2020 has been a tough year, with lockdowns bringing life to a stop across the globe. However, it also gave gamers a chance to come closer together in the virtual world. In a year of several ups and downs across the global esports landscape, it has been an absolute rollercoaster ride for India. Multiple mobile titles have put serious effort into growing their esports scenes, with Call Of Duty: Mobile finally announcing tournaments. PUBG Mobile has been going full steam ahead with its tournaments, and the lockdowns haven’t stopped them. Despite the ban in India, the company made close to $2.6 billion (Rs.19,177+ Crore) since the start of 2020 this year. However, PUBG Mobile is working hard on bringing the game back for its huge fan base and growing pro player circuit. Free Fire has also seen tremendous growth this year, with multiple regional and international tournaments being announced. The prize pools of tournaments have also shot up across the board. Call of Duty: Mobile’s first major tournament, COD Mobile World Championship had a giant prize pool of $750,00,000.
Given these major developments, we take a look back at the top 10 stand out moments in Indian Mobile Esports in 2020.
1. Countrywide Lockdowns Put A Stop To Offline Tournaments
The countrywide lockdowns declared at the start of 2020, put a wrench in the offline tournament plans across esports titles. PUBG Mobile was forced to take major tournaments online or postpone some like PMPL SA. Call of Duty: Mobile World Championship’s Stage 5 also got cancelled as a result. Events like DreamHack ended up being postponed as well. Hopefully, as vaccines roll out in 2021, perhaps organisations can resume their offline events and tournaments.
2. Mortal Nominated For Esports Awards
The Esports Awards, created to celebrate the industry’s movers and shakers, released the second instalment of its spotlight show series with a new wave of announcements. Over 5 million votes were cast during the whole event. Indian YouTuber and pro player Naman "MortaL" Mathur became the first Indian to ever be nominated for the Esports Awards 2020 in July. Mortal was nominated for the ‘Esports Mobile Player of the Year’ as well as ‘Streamer of the Year’, along with several others from around the globe. MortaL ended up bagging the second place in Streamer of the Year and third in Esports Mobile Player of the Year.
3. Noble Esports Picks Up India’s First Wild Rift Roster
In November of this year, Noble Esports announced their full League of Legends: Wild Rift lineup featuring some of the most accomplished MOBA veterans in India including Jeet "Swifty" Kundra and Raunak "Crowley" Sen as well as other talented players like Divine, Zapheto, and former League of Legends pro Capt Kirk. Noble Esports had entered India in August of this year with a PUBG Mobile squad and later went on to sign teams for both Wild Rift and VALORANT.
4. Entity, TSG Army, Global Esports Free Fire Pros Banned By Garena
Multiple players in the Free Fire esports scene were found guilty of hacking. Two players, namely Entity Gaming's Ashwatma and Zack from TSG Army both received 1-year bans. Entity Gaming were widely regarded as the top Free Fire team in India and have been dominating all local competitions since their conceptions.
This was also followed by 6 more players being banned. Global Esports’s Free Fire roster (previously known as Bandra 50) found that its players were using a modified version of the game.
5. Orange Rock Comes In Second Place In PMWL East
2020 was a big year for Orange Rock esports who came in second place in the PUBG Mobile World League 2020 - Season 0: East with 2 Chicken Dinners, 167 Placement Points and 111 Kill Points giving them a total of 278. The team had a spectacular opening weekend, Mavi, GiLL and ScoutOP adding multiple kills to the board. However, the team failed to keep their hot streak going during the three weeks of league play and ended up qualifying for the finals at the 10th position on the leaderboard. The finals saw an impressive performance from Orange Rock esports. The team had undergone some roster changes, picking up Sc0utOP on loan from Fnatic. Before going into the finals the team also made slight changes to the roster.
6. Chinese App Ban Waves Affect PUBG Mobile, MLBB and AoV
The Government of India blocked more than 250 Chinese mobile apps which it deemed as ’prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India’. Banned apps included PUBG Mobile, PUBG Mobile Lite, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Arena of Valor and MARVEL Super War. The move led to PUBG Corp. shutting down access to Indian users and later severing ties with Chinese publisher Tencent and taking the rights of the game back. While none of these apps has been unbanned yet, PUBG officials are working hard to bring it back to the country in a desi avatar. Fans of Mobile Legends are taking it into their hands to try and get the game unbanned. One fan put up a petition on Change.org to get the game unbanned which got 72,653 signatures and is very close to its goal of 75,000.
7. Team Mayhem Wins EU East and Asia Qualifier For CODM World Championship
The regional finals/Stage 4 of the COD Mobile World Championship 2020 ended with Team Mayhem winning the Eastern Europe and Asia Qualifier. The side also qualified for the World Championship 2020. Team Mayhem won $15,000 off that tournament, however, following the cancellation of the World Championship, all teams (with the exception of Oxygen Esports) are to receive $107,000 equally from the $750,000 prize pool. This meant Team Mayhem walked away with $1,22,000 from the tournament, one of the biggest sums won by any Indian esports team ever.
8. Fnatic parts ways with their star assaulter ScoutOP
In early December, news of Fnatic parting ways with its star assaulter ScoutOP shocked the Indian scene. The organisation announced in an Instagram post about the player's departure. Scout had played over 20 major and minor tournaments with Fnatic and last played in the ESL India Premiership 2020 Summer Season: Finals with the team before being loaned out to Orange Rock. He was instrumental in getting OR to a second-place finish in PUBG Mobile World League 2020 - Season 0: East.
9. MortaL Switches Role From Player To Coach
It has been quite a turbulent year for Team SouL with multiple roster shuffles and frequent IGL changes which have caused them to regress. The team simply couldn’t replicate the success they had seen in 2019. In a stream on 16th November, MortaL announced that he was stepping down as the IGL of Team SouL and was taking a break from competitive play. He also stated that he was planning to become a mentor in his team and coach his team. According to the player, this decision was made keeping in mind the best interests of Team SouL and his family.
10. Critical X Disbands FF squad
On 1st December Critical X announced in an Instagram post that they would be letting go of their Free Fire roster called CRX Elite. The team consisting of Taneja, Pahadi, Jonty and Iconic being let go was a bit of a shock to the Free Fire community. CRX Elite had made their mark in the esports scene and are quite popular among fans of the battle royale. CRX Elite had been dominant and were the table toppers of the Free Fire India Championship 2020 Fall League stages. The team managed to place second in the recently concluded Free Fire India Championship 2020. Pahadi took home a cash prize of INR 60,000 as the MVP of the Grand Finals at FFIC.