The Indian Esports community is a relatively small horde that has been around since the early 2000s. Our community has however experienced rapid growth over the past two years. Tournaments like ESL India Premiership and Mountain Dew Arena have made pro gaming in the country one step closer to being a viable career option in the eyes of many.
With ever-increasing prize pools and a combined 34.9 Million Dollar investment (Approximately INR 230 Crores) by UCypher and Nazara, we are set to have a blockbuster 2017.
For the most part, it has been smooth sailing for our community but we’ve had a few shocks along the way. Some were pleasant and some ugly. Join me as I take a trip down the memory lane to look at some of the most shocking moments in the Indian Gaming Community.
7. Navi Comes to India
Fans of India were shocked when the announcement came through. The Ukrainian duo of Ioann ‘Edward’ Sukhariev and Gleb ‘Funn1k’ Lipatnikov had come to India to take part in the launch of Gamegod at Games Arena in Bangalore. Natus Vincere was by far the most popular team in India back then (hell, they still have thousands of fans even now) so when their players showed up in India, the fans were understandably enthused.
The event also marked the launch of Indian servers for both CS:GO and Dota2. The entire community went into a state of shocked jubilation as this would be one of the first times that two top tier overseas gamers set foot into our country.
Fans thronged the Arena as Funn1k and Edward took part in several promotional activities like autograph sessions and 2v2 Show matches. They also had a dance-off with each other! and had a hilarious adventure involving some stolen prize money.
6. The ESL India Premiership announcement
Image Courtesy: ESL India
When a tournament makes the front page of r/dota2 you know it has got to be huge. That was what happened when the ESL India Premiership was announced. It was almost unbelievable. An INR 42 Lakh event was unheard of (back then, oh we’ll get there). And the fact that the tournament was being run in partnership with ESL meant that we finally had a chance to become a major player in the Esports world.
Fans and players were naturally hyped for this event and gave it their all over the course of 6 months in which we saw various teams compete in 9 tournaments. It all culminated into a grand finale at Comic Con Delhi where Risky Gaming and Beyond Infinity stood tall amidst all their competitors. While the winning moments were special, nothing can compare to the awe we felt when we saw the 42 Lakh Prizepool.
5. Beyond Infinity going toe to toe with TNC Pro Team in the finals of the TI6 Open Qualifiers
Beyond Infinity was once considered to be India’s strongest team by many, but their performances at SEA events left much to be desired. That was all set to change on the 23rd of June 2016. Beyond Infinity went on a rampageous run taking out the likes of Rex Regum Quam and Assail on their road to the finals of the 2nd Open Qualifier of The International 6.
Image Courtesy: ESL India
On the 24th they met TNC Pro Team, a team boasting the likes of Jimmy ‘Demon’ Ho and Carlo ‘kuku’ Palad in its roster. Beyond Infinity fought valiantly in both games before going down to them. TNC would later go on to beat two-time major winner OG in the main event of TI6.
That tournament run of Beyond Infinity finally proved to us that we as a country had finally arrived on the International competitive stage and can one day make it to the main stage of a Valve Major or dare we say it? - The International.
4. Team Wolf takes part in ESL One: Cologne
Image Courtesy: Indian Wolves
This was the first and till now the only time that an Indian team took part in a Valve Major. After winning the Indian qualifiers, Team Wolf had been rewarded with a bootcamp along with Serbian professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Aleksandar ‘kassad’ Trifunovi? as their coach for this event.
Despite putting up a much better performance at ESL One Cologne, the squad failed to get past NiP and Hellraisers. However, the Indian CS:GO community took solace in the fact that they won 7 rounds against NiP.
Although Team Wolf put on a subpar performance in both tournaments, they have paved the way for the Indian Gaming Community to take part in International competitions.
3. Crowley removed from the Entity Esports squad
Raunak ‘Crowley’ Sen, a popular Indian Dota 2 star, left the Invisible Wings roster with A35 to join BlizzarD, Sw1fty and No_Chanc3 to form Entity Esports. This team was expected to dominate all Indian events and also become a tier 1 team in the SEA region.
While Entity Esports did dominate all the Indian events that they participated in, they were found wanting in the SEA events. They underperformed in a lot of tournaments including multiple ProDota Cups and ESL One Genting Qualifiers. They showed signs of improvement in the ROG Masters in Malaysia where they were knocked out by Fnatic after beating Chinese team MAX.X.
So it came as a shock when the squad announced their decision to remove Crowley from the active playing roster. The decision to remove Crowley after their somewhat good performance at the ROG Masters LAN definitely flabbergasted fans and the Indian gaming community in general.
2. Nazara Games and Ucypher announcing investments of around 100 crores each
While 2016 was a great year for Esports in India with tournaments like ESL India Premiership, The Dew Arena, Indian Esports Champions and The Taiwan Excellence Gaming Cup providing excellent and challenging competitions for players and fans alike, 2017 has welcomed us with two announcements that has blown away the Indian Gaming community with shock and awe.
Ronnie Screwella, The Entrepreneur behind the hugely successful ‘Pro Kabaddi League’ has announced an Esports league called Ucypher. He marked out a budget of INR 80-100 Crore for this, which has everybody freaking out.
Not to be left too far behind, Nazara Games, mostly known for their mobile games, were reportedly ready to invest ~INR 136 Cr into Indian Esports over the course of five years.
In 2016, the Esports prizepool in India hovered somewhere around INR 77 lakh. We thought this was a pretty big figure, but these two tournaments have taken these figures to an entirely different ballpark.
1. The Indian Gaming Carnival Fiasco
Image Courtesy: HLTV
“The Indian esports scene was thought to be a dead one, one that only existed as a figment of people’s imagination. And all in all the concept was a hard sell, with only a few believers and loyal fans, the scene was heading nowhere fruitful.”
The India Gaming Carnival is likely the biggest culprit for Indian esports' lacklustre growth pre-2013. The event was promised to be “the push that Indian Esports needs to go to the next level”. Teams such as Orange Esports, MiTH Trust and more attended the event with hopes of great things to come. Even the one and only Honey Singh was announced to be one of the performers at the event! The entire Indian Gaming community was very excited as this was the first time an event of this scale was happening here in our country.
However, in April of 2012, The events that occurred in Greater Noida scarred us and left us outraged and scandalized. The entire event was accused of being a scam marred with fake and dodgy sponsors, threats towards people who were trying to expose them, fake ticket sales and more. CS GO squad Moscow 5 was allegedly scammed and robbed when they attended.
The tournament was by far the worst thing to have happened to Indian Gaming in recent times. Giant-sized mosquitoes, a venue out in the middle of nowhere, terrible management, delays, broken tables, overpriced unhygienic food - you name it! This tournament was every Indian gamer's worst nightmare.
The organizers' actions blemished the credibility of the Indian Gaming Scene and it has taken us well over 5 years to recover our credibility.