With multiple IPs and tournaments in development, Cornerstone Esports plans to help international teams enter India: Cornerstone Sport COO Jogesh Lulla

Recently, Cornerstone Sport has launched a new vertical Cornerstone Esports and they have signed up with leading Indian Esports teams. Cornerstone Esports offers services that include brand advisory, talent and team management, tournament development, investment and consulting services, and merchandise to stakeholders. In addition to this, the new vertical has multiple intellectual properties in development.

With industry-leading partners, the company aims to create an ecosystem that will benefit all stakeholders and bring in a more organized approach to this industry.  And will also work towards improving the opportunities in Esports for global as well as Indian teams and talent.

In conversation with AnimationXpress, Cornerstone Sport COO Jogesh Lulla shared, “Globally esports is one of the largest sports in terms of viewership and prize money. It was pretty much non-existent in India until 2018 but is now growing at an extraordinary pace. There is a lot of interest from all the right stakeholders which is bringing in structure and recognition to the sport making it the right time to enter the market to make an impact. Our strengths in managing athletes, sports marketing, brand creation, event management, content production and animation make this a natural extension to our business.”

Here is the excerpt from the interview:

Every business expansion/exploration requires market study so what have you noticed while understanding the esports market in India?

The Esports industry in India has over 150,000 professional players, 60,000 teams and generates viewership from 17 million people across 14 broadcast platforms, which is expected to increase to 85 million viewers and 20+ platforms in the next four years. The average age of an esports fan is 26 making it a perfect platform for any brand looking to target the youth.

For Cornerstone, this was a natural extension to what we already do since the services required by brands and athletes in esports are the same as that for any other sport.

Our experience in sports marketing and the pace at which the market is growing, made our decision to enter the space pretty simple.  

How should a small esports organisation look for investments/sponsors?

There is no one size fits all answer and athletes and teams in any sport need the right strategy, guidance and patience. We have been doing this for athletes and teams for years now and each one requires a unique approach.

As far as sponsors are concerned, it is important to bring on a sponsor whose goals align with you. Smaller teams may want to look for smaller and possibly regional brands to start off with.

 The question for the right investor is even more complex. There are way too many variables to consider before deciding on who to approach for investment!

That being said, esports teams should look for investors that have:

– The ability and willingness to provide capital for the long term.

–  The willingness to change their investment strategy with the rapidly evolving business of esports.

– Experience and connect with Indian and international esports stakeholders. 

India boasts of top Gaming Content Creators and structured agency firms are at the need of the hour who can connect them with the right brands. Your opinion.

Yes, precisely. There are many firms in the space that have provided a big boost to players and teams already and have served as a conduit for brands looking to enter the space. The reason we have decided to enter this industry is to better leverage the value of said gamers, and further, inculcate an air of professionalism and process in the industry moving forward. With all the experience that we at Cornerstone have in the sport and entertainment fields, we believe we can serve as an asset to brands and gamers alike in this sense.

Also, we have been working on helping brands to get them the statistics (engagement rate) of content creators who can work as the right influencer for the brand for some time already. Brands looking to enter a digital industry would naturally require certain KPIs, which is integral to helping them meet their marketing objectives. It is with this information that they can make the most informed decisions, and our role is to help facilitate that so that all parties are satisfied. 

Esports is a sport.  Your opinion 

Yes, Esports is a sport.  It takes many hours across many years to play at a competitive level. Like any sport, you can hop in and enjoy playing casually, but you will not be a professional athlete. The level of physical and mental exertion in esports, if not more, is as demanding as traditional sports. The level of cortisol produced by an esports athlete is about the same as that of a race-car driver. This is combined with a high pulse, sometimes as high as 160 to 180 beats per minute, which is equivalent to what happens during a very fast run, almost a marathon. That’s not to mention the motor skills involved.

Esports athletes, just like in other sports, also need and benefit from physical and mental conditioning.

Adding to it, the USA & China Governments now recognize Esports gamers as professional athletes and also offer scholarships for the same. Closer to home, esports will now be part of the Asian games as well.

We can also talk about the social element of esports. Millions of people tune in to watch an Esports event and can all feel the intensity of the game. Imagine how intense a person feels when actually playing a high-stakes FIFA, Call of Duty or BGMI game. Now, imagine that on a big stage, with countless spectators and a cash prize! 

Can you share the talents Cornerstore Esports has under its roof?

Talents like Jonathan Amaral, Chetan ‘Kronten’ Chandgude, Abhijeet ‘Ghatak’ Andhare, Suraj ‘Neyoo’ Majumdar, Abhishek ‘ZGOD’ Choudhary, Vivek ‘ClutchGod’ Horo and Harpreet Singh Janjuha ‘RonaK’ have already been signed by us on our esports talent roster. We also exclusively represent GodLike Esports, which is considered one of the best esports teams in the country. 

What are the biggest developments Cornerstone Esports has in store?

We have a large focus on helping international teams to enter India and will also be looking to make a few strategic investments in areas that we feel it might be better to partner with others to grow faster.

In addition, we have multiple intellectual properties and tournaments in development which will be unveiled towards the end of the year and early next year and the obvious part will be us expanding our roster and adding more professional gamers, teams and content creators from various titles.