Indian Valorant Caster Details Challenges, Discrimination Faced in the Scene
Professional Indian Valorant caster Kaavya “Zahk” Karthikeyan penned a long farewell message in a tweet, sharing her negative experiences working as a female caster in India. She discussed the challenges with Indian tournament organizers (TOs) including issues with processing payment, a gender pay gap, sexism, and more. Zahk also mentioned that these issues were a major factor in her decision to stop working in India.
Zahk speaks up about gender pay gap, sexism, and more in the Indian Valorant esports ecosystem
According to , TOs exploit new casters horribly by underpaying them. “The first ever gig I got, I was expected to cast six games a day, nine games on Sunday, almost daily. For this, I was offered ₹12k INR ($145 USD) a month. People told me I should be grateful to get what I got seeing they started working for free but that doesn’t make it fair. At the end of the day, someone is still working for you, and exposure doesn’t pay the bills,” she said.
Zahk claimed that TOs also do not pay their casters on time, and that casters had to reach out to TOs multiple times to clear the dues. “They don’t respond, don’t take calls, and only pay what they owe after months. I still haven’t been paid for an event I did in August for a particular TO, and it’s a pretty negligible sum (₹5k<). I’ve reached out to the TO multiple times and only after asking twice do I get a reply saying it hasn’t even been internally processed,” she added. “I had several caster friends who suffered because their payment did not come through for months.”
Following this, Zahk talked about the double standards and sexism she encountered during her caster journey. “As a woman, my clothing choices are far more criticized and policed than others. Recently at a gig, I was told the attire was formal. I was wearing a collared shirt over a t-shirt. My male co-caster was wearing a casual t-shirt, without even a collar. I was told to wear something more formal/button up until the collar. My co-caster did not get any comments or similar feedback.” She revealed that she was told to “shut up” when she pointed this out.
Zahk also talked about the unfair pay scale and gender pay gap she had to face. “After some experience with VCT APAC GC (Valorant Champions Tour: Game Changers Asia-Pacific ), I was hired for an event at ₹500 a map and told that that was the budget for the event and that’s all they could do. This was less than a quarter of what I usually get abroad but I was ok working with the TO since it was a women’s event which generally has lower budgets here. I came to know they were paying my co-caster twice that.”
Following this, she stated that the next time she worked with the same TO, her co-caster was making ₹1.2k, whereas she was making ₹600. “I have been consistently low balled by TOs and only been hired at atrociously low prices,” she said. “My male co-casters have consistently gotten 2x to 3x times more what I’ve gotten, if not more. People with less experience casting Valorant who merely read the killfeed get more cause they’re friends with the TOs.” She mentioned that this is one of the main reasons why she stopped working in India and moved abroad.
Zahk talks about cronyism in the industry
Zahk stated that many tournament organizers in India hire their friends as casters, even if they are not knowledgeable about the game or have poor streaming quality and delays.“How are we supposed to improve if there’s no drive to do better and no criticism? I’m not saying folks should be perfect but at least talk about it? I’ve been open about my experiences at certain events which have gotten me blacklisted despite my skill and experience. Not to mention an incredible amount of hate and online harassment,” she added.
Following this, she stated that a TO blocked her from its Instagram account because she pointed out the bad production quality of an event. “Despite (the TO) hiring me again (again at lowball rates), it refused to unblock me.”
“After a year and a half of working in India, and six months working in NA/SEA, I see the differences. Before I got opportunities abroad I was always so stressed out trying to find and do work here. The constant undercutting and favoritism is painful to deal with. Perhaps India doesn’t have to get to the level of these folks but a basic semblance of decency is necessary,” said Zahk.
Finally, Zahk appealed to all TOs to pay casters a fair rate and on time, treat all talent the same when it comes to attire, admit event screw ups instead of hating people who actually point it out.
After working for over a year as a Valorant caster in India, Zahk will be moving to Europe for better work opportunities.