Wild Rift’s regional closed beta returned a week ago and includes Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Korea. Riot has said that other regions will be added to the beta later. As of now, most of the regions in the test are geographically close to one another. While Riot has said that Wild Rift’s global launch will happen sometime during the end of 2020, Indian fans may have to wait a little longer with sources suggesting that Wild Rift may come to India somewhere during March 2021.
Due to Tencent’s involvement in Riot Games, the game’s launch has an aura of uncertainty around it. However, despite the Tencent connection, Riot’s other major titles, League of Legends and VALORANT haven’t run into any issues with Mumbai recently getting a server. As for an esports scene, Riot is currently busy improving the overall Wild Rift experience so talks about esports are still not in the cards. This hasn’t stopped Indian organisations or fans from getting hyped.
Will Wild Rift Make A Splash In India?
With PUBG Mobile gone, there is a huge gap left in the scene and games like Free Fire and Call of Duty: Mobile are trying their best to fill it. With a ban reversal nowhere in sight, PUBG Mobile players are slowly moving to other games and games like Free Fire, Call of Duty: Mobile and very soon Wild Rift will want a piece of the pie. With the void left behind by PUBG Mobile, former LoL veteran and current manager of TSM Entity Sid Joshi, has started exploring the game with his PUBG Mobile roster.
Wild Rift is highly anticipated by the Indian MOBA community. It has developed a small but dedicated following since its announcement. Since Mobile Legends and Arena of Valor were also banned by the Indian Government, fans of those games are also being nudged towards Riot’s new mobile MOBA. “I think Wild Rift will explode here”, said Joshi when asked about the game’s potential in the country. “It's a beautiful game and 9/10 professional PUBG Mobile players I've suggested the MOBA mobile genre to have absolutely loved it and are hooked to it. If the timing of the game release is just right, I believe Wild Rift will break records in India. All PUBG Mobile players in India are absolutely hungry right now and with how PUBG Mobile blew up and the current state it is in right now, I think it is the perfect time for any mobile esports title to take over.”
When asked about what Wild Rift can do differently than League of Legends PC for esports in India, Joshi said, “As someone who's been a fan of Riot Games since 2009, I know how easily they can create a great esports scene here that not only creates local celebrities but also nurtures talent capable enough to take on the world. And a part of the reason that League of Legends didn't work in India was because of the extremely low player base, abysmal viewership numbers and Garena.” His previous prediction turned out to be fairly accurate when he claims to have urged professional CS:GO players in the country to switch to VALORANT. “Look how VALORANT has taken over SEA now. I do believe the same will happen for Wild Rift”.
Indian Rosters In Wild Rift
Players in India are slowly gaining access to the closed beta but organisations are already getting into top gear. Noble Esports has announced a roster which may include an ex-League of Legends player.
While Joshi declined to comment on the state of TSM Entity’s plans for Wild Rift, a recent video, shot by the team’s PUBG Mobile coach Ghatak, showed the squad going through the basics of League of Legends PC, perhaps trying to grasp the skills required for a possible move into the mobile MOBA world.
Gameplay and Mechanics
There are a few key differences in Wild Rift in comparison to League of Legends such as ability progression and max champion levels. The maximum level for champions in Wild Rift is 15 versus 18 in the PC version of the game, and basic abilities have a maximum rank of 4 instead of 5. Ultimate abilities can be levelled up at levels 5, 9 and 13 instead of 6, 11 and 16. Several champions' abilities have been modified to accommodate either the twin-stick control scheme or the smaller duration of the match and a new passive indicator on the health bar has been introduced for champions like Alistar, Ezreal, Jax, Master Yi and Twisted Fate.
However, apart from these differences, much of the game is the same as League of Legends PC. Regarding this, Joshi said, “The gameplay, mechanics and itemization compared to League is exactly the same in Wild Rift with just a few minor changes to a few skills and items, I suppose to balance it a bit for a mobile. That's what I loved most about the game. It basically feels like league pc being played on mobile using an emulator.”
As a former Dota 2 player, Sid thinks that the challenge isn't to learn the game but to be able to play the game on a mobile phone effectively. “Before I entered the PUBG Mobile scene, I barely played any games on a mobile which is why I found PUBG Mobile almost impossible to play even though I did understand the game at a basic level. DOTA players who pick up the game now will be considerably behind the already existing MOBA mobile community in India, but slightly ahead of the battle royale players that are looking to switch. There will be an extreme grind, but I personally know and believe in a few ex-DOTA pro players who are going to dominate Wild Rift when it comes out.”
Mobile MOBAs have already taken off in Asia with MLBB quickly becoming one of the largest titles out there with a huge esports scene. Whether Wild Rift can replicate this phenomenon and more specifically in India remains to be seen. However, if the hype is to be believed, India is more than ready to onto the Rift.