Cover image source: @Reckoning Esports
Indian esport orgs have made some huge strides in the recent past with organizations such as Entity Gaming and Signify (they hadn’t disbanded at the time of writing) picking up multiple rosters in multiple titles and bringing in foreign talent. And while everyone sets their eyes on being the number 1 in the country and hopefully the region, more challengers arise, some that are looking to change the status quo, very fast and very soon.
If you’ve been a follower of Dota in India, then among many things you are a part of a very exclusive gang of people. And as we have seen, this dwindling gang of passionate Dota 2 fans, especially those passionate about Indian teams has had little to look forward to in recent years. ESL One Mumbai might have been a first of its kind spectacle, but the local scene has become stale with little to no new players and only one team who have gone unbeaten in pretty much every tournament they have taken part in for more than 2 years now. We take a look at one of the teams who have been working hard in trying to grow the scene and their journey in the land of competitive Dota.
Reckoning Esports is a name you most likely have heard of if you’ve been following Indian Dota 2 LANs in the past year or so and while the org is yet to win big, their new roster certainly shows promise, skill and more than anything is a big display of intent by the management to try something different. In a time when people are increasingly talking about the economic instability in the Dota circuit for both teams and TOs, the decision to bring in 5 players from a different country seems risky. But we start the story 2 years ago, in 2017 as Sharang ‘Sh4rky’ Naicker laid the foundations of what would become Reckoning Esports.
Leading what was essentially a cafe based team, Sh4rky quickly realised that a little bit of structure and discipline would mean a whole lot for team playing at a local level. He eventually joined hands with his rival, Joshua ‘Dot’ Jebaraj and formed a mixed team to test the waters in local competitions and LANs. However, it soon became apparent to Sh4rky that he himself wasn’t equipped to play on the upper tiers of Dota and he decided that the best way forward was for him to take a more holistic approach. He stepped back, offering to coach and manage the team, which by now was a mix of players from Pune, Mumbai and Chennai.
“I tried to have multiple permutations and combinations to find the right set of people and in September of 2017 I found the right set of guys”
But choosing the right players for the right team was never an easy task. With a long term goal in mind, Sh4rky picked up players who could and would gel together and had the vision and dedication to persevere. In his quest to find players, he formed two squads, the original Reckoning Esports and Reckoning Infinity. For Reckoning, the journey was laborious and the squad had to go through several defeats in their early days before they were able to qualify for the Masters League in the ESL India Premiership. For Reckoning Infinity, however, things clicked instantly and the squad was able to have an instant impact, with good results within the subcontinent. Both sides although impressive, were unable to break through to the highest tier of Indian Dota and while they always looked like they had potential, it never seemed likely that they could beat the final boss of Indian Dota 2 - Signify.
Eventually, the players went their own ways, as is the case with most Indian rosters who don’t find immediate success. It was a big blow for the org, whose owner had dreamed of TI one day.
“My goal has always been TI10” - maintains Sh4rky whose team now comprises of 5 players from Myanmar. How did that happen? Well, orgs, teams and players tend to move fast in Dota and once the once-Veteran squad caught Sh4rky’s eyes, he reached out to try and sign them. It was in a JDL match when he first laid eyes on the team, and he was surprised at how easily the squad was able to beat Clutch Gamers - an SEA team who boasted EU players on their roster. Eventually, the Veteran squad would start participating in the ESL India Premiership and would soon be competing against Reckoning Esports.
By the time the season ended, 3 of Reckoning’s players had moved on to join Entity Gaming and rebuilding a team around the 2 remaining players was proving to be a hard ask. It was at this time that Sh4rky would reach out to Kenji, the captain of Veteran. However, the team was busy preparing for WESG and had little time to think about or even consider joining a new team. But when the dust settled it was an easy decision for the players to make.
“We were having lots of difficulties in Myanmar, we lacked the stability to be a proper team. We were all playing from different places and cafes and it held us back from being a better team. So when Sh4rky reached out, we realized that his org would be able to provide the support and infrastructure we needed.” says Kenji.
“It was a new step for the players who had never really pursued an opportunity like that earlier and the team was excited to see what was in store for us. Our families, friends and the Dota community back at home were really proud of us and supported us so it made the decision easy as we knew that it would help us improve and move ahead in our careers.“
The team also needed some oversight in the form of a coach and both the management and players realized this as Sh4rky turned to his former player and teammate Joshua aka Dot to help.
“After my stint with Reckoning was done, I took a small break to figure stuff out and during this time Sh4rky reached out to me to help coach the team. At the time I was unsure whether I wanted to coach but eventually, I ended up watching the replays and realized that these guys were really skilled and talented but there were some areas I could help them in” says Dot.
“Earlier I was captaining the team so I would have more control on the team but as a coach I realized that it was different, but the players made my job easier. They were understanding and cooperative and even the language issue wasn’t really difficult to overcome.”
With the TI9 qualifiers on the horizon, Reckoning has a huge task ahead of them. But the team is positive. Sh4rky feels that the team has a very decent shot at making it to Shanghai. “Right now the team is in a good place with their own playstyle and what we are trying to do is read our opponents and understand how to counter them”.
However, the roster is still new and TI9 won’t be the end of the world. In July, the players will be heading back to Myanmar to try and qualify for the SEA Games 2019 and represent their country. After that once the team is back in August is when the real grind starts as the team will look to qualify for DPC events on a regular basis and work towards TI10.
Things are on an upward trajectory already and they have qualified for the LAN Finals of the ESL India Premiership Summer Season. “Our major focus right now is to improve in our scrims and strategies than to focus on tournaments right now.” However, the team is confident that they will be coming out on top at the LAN. “I’m pretty sure that we’ll win the LAN and looking at our skill level and chemistry I feel our team is better than any of the teams who will be playing there”
“We lost some games in the online stages since we weren’t patient enough in our games. We tried to rush the games and play really aggressive but we weren’t disciplined enough.”
Things are working out for the organization, who, earlier today announced that they have signed up with a new sponsor, Xanova, which is a gaming peripherals manufacturer.
However, the unstable nature of the Dota scene itself is an obstacle that the organization will have to figure out. On this subject, Sh4rky says, “As a team owner in SEA, one of the challenges is being able to retain your team after they perform well since there are so many up and coming teams“
Despite the many challenges and adversities, the team and the management have a vision which seems to make them click. A 25-year-old team owner from India, a group of Dota players from Myanmar and a coach from Chennai makes them one of the most unique and interesting teams to follow. With a unique playstyle and some Insane (pun intended) talent to showcase, it’s not unrealistic to expect big things from this roster.
The roster already has a huge fan-following back at home in Myanmar but will they be able to win over the hearts of the Indian fans soon?
The team will be in action against the likes of Signify, Entity Gaming and Global Esports at the ESL India Premiership Summer Season Finale which kicks off tomorrow.