Riot Games Responds to Esports Licensing Concerns Raised by Indian TOs
With organizations like Velocity Gaming and Orangutan disbanding their Valorant rosters, the Indian esports fraternity and community dove into a heated discussion about sustainability, and other prevalent concerns. While most of them brought up the high salaries of players, lack of LAN tournaments, and poor social media presence of athletes, a few Indian tournament organizers [TOs] have alleged that the cause for the fall of the Valorant ecosystem is due to Riot Games and its licensing and other restrictions.
Upthrust Esports CEO Kartik Sabherwal claimed, “Limiting the ecosystem will lead to the downfall of the game!” Seconding this, Kuldeep Lather, founder of Villager Esports, also explained how difficult it was to get a license to host a Valorant tournament. He also claimed that a Riot Games representative was “very arrogant and disrespectful.”
Riot Games Responds to Indian Tournament Organizers' Allegations on Esports Growth Challenges
Addressing the allegations placed by TOs in an exclusive to AFK Gaming, Riot Games India & South Asia Esports Lead Sukamal Pegu noted that Riot is committed and dedicated to fostering the growth and development of esports, both globally and within India.
Riot Games is dedicated to fostering the growth and development of esports, both globally and within India. We have a player-first approach and are committed to fostering opportunities for talented players. Moreover, we are continuously evaluating and reshaping our tournament modules in the region to address any concerns effectively. Our primary goal is to cultivate a vibrant esports ecosystem in the country that benefits the audience, players, and the overall gaming community.”Sukamal Pegu
What Are the Indian TOs Saying? Is Indian Valorant Ecosystem Waning?
Many Indian teams have exited the Valorant ecosystem recently. First, it was Velocity Gaming, one of the biggest and most successful Valorant teams, that disbanded its roster in May after an early exit from the Valorant Challengers League [VCL] 2023: South Asia Split 2.
Now, recently, Orangutan Gaming, which is another team with a substantial fan following and a good presence in the Valorant esports ecosystem, bid farewell to its Valorant teams. Co-founder Jai Shah noted that the PC esports ecosystem is not sustainable in India and pointed out how high salaries, lack of tournaments, and low viewership numbers, among others added to the downfall.
Commenting on Jai Shah’s take, Sabherwal of Upthrust Esports stated, “This happens when the publisher limits the ecosystem.” He claimed that only a few TOs were allowed to organize events and that there was no proper structure to rope in new talent and pro players.
He alleged that Upthrust Esports tried to explore and promote Valorant through its grassroots and invitational events and that it faced “multiple licensing restrictions.”
Sabherwal further added that the growth of any game does not just depend on official events but noted that third-party tournaments are equally important to nurture the scene.
The same concerns about licensing issues were voiced by Villager Esports Founder Kuldeep Lather, who tweeted, “I can confirm tried so hard to get [a] license in the off-season last year but the Riot guy was just pain and ignored every request from our side, didn't even hold a meeting. Very arrogant and disrespectful.”
He noted that Villager Esports grew its Valorant community up to 17K players on just Discord alone.
Sabherwal also felt that if the publisher created a proper structure and allowed multiple TOs to host events, it would be a bustling and bullish ecosystem. He lobbied how more tournaments would be beneficial for all stakeholders including players, TOs, organizations, and even the publisher itself, and help the ecosystem sustain organically.
Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), being India’s most popular esport, was naturally brought into the discussion. Sabherwal attributed its success to Krafton’s ideology of believing “in equality rather than giving importance to just one or two TOs.”
“They [Krafton] worked with a proper vision where they knew that we need to get more and more raw talent rather than just depending upon few top faces! There are many aspirants on the grassroots level who still believe that someday they might outshine and become a top-tier player,” said Sabherwal. He also strongly opined that limiting the ecosystem will lead to the game’s downfall.