As wins and sponsorships dry up: Itís no sports for eSports in India

The eSports scene in India slows down owing to a lack of infrastructure,performance and sponsorships.

Bangalore, October 17, 2017: Poor IT infrastructure, team performance, and lack of cash sponsorships has slowed down the eSports scene in India.

Shravanth Reddy, COO & CTO of League of Extraordinary Gamers(LXG), a gaming eSports café and a major eSports organizer with branches in Bangalore and Chennai, said Indian teams have poorly performed because they lack professionalism when it comes to training and practicing.

He added that these days sponsors prefer to give peripheral sponsorships which includes monitors, keyboard, graphic cards instead of cash sponsorships. As a result, he said it is continually becoming difficult for many players to continue eSports as a profession.

Amit Maran,the technical manager at LXG said that the scene is largely plagued by internal politics as top players like Ayush “astaRR”Deora frequently change teams which weaken major teams and the team building process. He said even though some of the Indian teams have salaried players these days, the salary is around Rs. 30,000 or even less, which is much lower than the international teams like Na’vi.

Competitive gaming started in India in the early 2000s when internet gaming cafes like Zapak started opening up all over the world. The competitive video gaming scene started with video games like Counter Strike 1.6 and FIFA. Nowadays, the eSports players are largely divided between games like Counter Strike Global Offensive and DOTA 2 both of which were released in 2013.

The Indian scene got a boost when Team Wolf qualified for ESL Cologne in 2014 and recently in 2016, whenESL (Electronic Sports League)started its Indian Premiership in a partnership with India-based Nodwin Gaming.

Vamshi Krishna, Consumer Marketing Head (Nvidia South Asia), pointed out that a KPMG and Google Study (“Online Gaming in India – Reaching a New Pinnacle”) found that there currently 35 million interested PC Gamers and 240 million mobile gamers in India. He added that the official Nvidia projection is that India will have a 60 million gamer base within 2020.

He blamed the lack of proper gaming cafes in the country. He said the eSports has a slow growth in India due to poor internet penetration and lack of gaming cafes — there are only 300+ cafes in India whereas in China there are 160,000 eSports cafes.

Deepak Thomas, CEO, RIG ESPORTS, said that gaming cafes in India are currently making a comeback in the form of high end eSports lounges. He added that there are still a lot of problems that the Indian gaming scene is facing — lack of good internet speed, stable and decent pings which essentially is the computer’s reaction time to respond to a request by another computer.

Another problem he highlighted is that the modern gaming lounges in India need to be equipped with the latest hardware and at the same time, need to keep their pricing low so as to attract enough players to sustain their daily business. Even though it is beneficial for the average gamers, in the long run he feels that the business might become unsustainable in the face of rising rents and cost of hardware.

Risaabh Vohra, an executive with ESL India which is one of the biggest organizers of eSports events in the world, said eSports has been affected by the lack of infrastructure in India but, the player base in India is still a growing one.

We have been organizing tournaments worth lakhs of rupees on a regular basis so as to attract international organizers and there are teams who are winning it regularly, said Mr. Reddy. But whenever the top teams like Team Wolf, Dare2Dream, Invisible Wings qualify in India and go for finals abroad — they end up losing.

He added that the Indian players do not get any quality bootcamp sessions with professional coaches mostly due to lack of funds as a result their skill level does not improve at all. Many become contend with regular domestic wins and are reluctant to go abroad for tournaments due to the large expenses.

Krishna, an architect and a regular gamer at RIG ESPORTS, said, “I have never tried games on a competitive level. I usually play casual games like Grand Theft Auto V…. My parents would have never allowed me to pursue eSports as a career.”

Reflecting the same sentiments Thomas said eSports not catching in India is due to a lack of portrayal in the mainstream media, parents are unaware of the potential of the sport and usually have a negative attitude towards it. 
The gambling aspect in games like Counter Strike GO have further deterred parents from letting their wards indulging in such games, he said.

Suromitro Basu, a part time eSports player, sounded optimistic as he said DSport will telecast 90 minutes of Indian eSports every day till December and it is a matter of few years when the Indian scene will be a major thing globally.
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