Sports as a whole has not changed much in the past two decades, but the rise of technology did lead to something completely new – esports. Starcraft and Quake are just two of the original esports titles that highlighted that esports can become a career option in Asia.
Players like N0tail have earned over $6.5 M from tournament winnings alone. And what’s even more shocking is that N0tail is just 27 years old. In comparison, ‘GMHarikrishna’ of India has made $24K from international tournaments playing Lichess (online chess). PUBG Mobile has players like Owais, Ronak, VipeR, and Mortal, who have earned over $17,000 each in prize money from internationally recognized tournaments. They also have multiple local tournaments wins under their belt. In addition to prize money, salaries from organizations, sponsorships, and income from streaming and content creation also contribute to professional players’ earnings.
PUBG Mobile was widely considered the biggest esport title in India, and it is reportedly returning soon following a government-imposed ban. Yet, the number of gamers that can make a career as salaried, professional players is tiny. Out of a reported player base of 50 M PUBG Mobile players in India, only 89 players have competed internationally as per esportsearnings.com’s records. If we account for local tournaments, the number is substantially higher, but it’s still a tiny percentage of the overall player base. On the other hand, content creation is also a lucrative option, and many professional players try to support their careers through streaming or video content creation. As glamorous as esports sounds, the reality of going pro in India can be a bitter pill to swallow for many. It takes tremendous hard work and dedication to make it to the top, and while a career in esports is feasible, you should be aware of what’s at stake for you.
I had the opportunity to talk to esports consultant Nishant Ahuja (former team manager/co-founder at Signify and former esports manager at Global Esports), Rahul ‘Eminence’ Hinduja (COO of Global Esports), and professional esports player Rahul ‘t1to’ Sridhar (formerly a part of Noble Esports’ Valorant roster). They offered valuable insights into the esports industry and advice for upcoming generations of players who want to walk the path to pro.
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