April 2023 Indian Esports Rewind

Sadakshi Kalyan Ramun
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>April 2023 was a rather promising month filled with esports action and hustle-bustle in India. Here's a breakdown of all the important news in Indian Esports</p></div>

April 2023 was a rather promising month filled with esports action and hustle-bustle in India. Here's a breakdown of all the important news in Indian Esports


AFK Gaming

The Indian Gaming Community (IGC) kicked off April with good news. The Indian Government clearly differentiated between “online games” and “online real money games,” squashing any ambiguity that the public might have had in the past. In more exciting news, some of India’s biggest streamers, content creators, and mobile esports athletes got recognized for their hard work and commitment. Many of these stars have been nominated for the inaugural edition of the Mobile Gaming Awards called the MOBIES 2023. 

Coming to the Indian esports scene, the IGC witnessed top-shelf banter between players and organizations. Be it Revenant Esports Valorant’s rather interesting announcement video or the tiff between Adam "ec1s" Eccles and Orangutan, the community reveled in the banter. 

We also saw Road to Valor: Empires’ first-ever tournament pan out brilliantly where talented players were pitted against famous content creators. Currently, the community is gearing up for celebrating the grand return of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) in the coming months. This franchised esports league boasts a ₹2,00,00,000 prize pool and is all set to tour 20 Indian cities for its café qualifiers.

With these teasers out of the way, let’s get into the big picture and see Indian esports in April 2023 from a closeup!

India’s Renewed Interest in CS: GO, Massive Tournament on the Line

Counter-Strike 2 has been the talk of the town ever since the game was announced by Valve in March 2023. It would be an understatement to say that the IGC was simply hyped for the game as there is clearly a renewed interest in CS: GO for both casual players and pros. 

India-based esports tournament organizer Skyesports acknowledged the community’s need for a well-chalked-out esports ecosystem for CS: GO and announced its intention to make the business side of esports sustainable and viable for organizations. 

Skyesports announced a brand new CS: GO LAN event called ‘The Skyesports Masters’ with an INR 2 Crores ($244,000) prize pool and the tournament is set to include eight franchised teams. Interestingly, The Skyesports Masters will begin with an on-ground café qualifiers phase where it will tour 20 cities across India. The tournament organizer has tied up with local gaming cafés in major cities including Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, and more to scout for the best Counter-Strike talent. 

Once the rosters are finalized after teams have incorporated their best finds from the café qualifiers, the eight participating teams will compete in Mumbai to crown the champions. This three-month-long LAN event in Mumbai will be divided into a league stage and playoffs.

AFK Gaming’s PerspectiveCS: GO’s resurgence in India is not just a good sign for the game’s ecosystem but is very reassuring for the Indian esports scene in general. Tournament organizers pivoting into other titles in the absence of BGMI is proof that Indian esports is not one-legged and completely dependent on one title. 

With the Skyesports Masters franchised league, a total of eight organizations are re-entering CS: GO with a properly planned structure that guarantees stable revenue streams by way of sponsorships, merchandise sales, and media rights deals. Organizations including Velocity Gaming, Enigma Gaming, and Revenant Esports already expressed their desire to participate in this league.

From an aspiring pro player’s point-of-view, having scouting rounds like the one in Skyesports Masters is extremely motivating and important. A setup like this could help India discover its next big FPS talent.  

Through this tournament, Skyesports is aiming to build an ecosystem around CS: GO and eventually Counter-Strike 2 when it is made available. This will be huge for PC gaming in the country, where most competitive titles, except Valorant, have failed to take off and thrive prominently.

New IT Rules in India Differentiate Between Online Games and Online Real Money Games

In January 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in India proposed amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. These amendments aimed to introduce regulatory norms for online gaming in the country, which has seen a significant increase in popularity in recent years. However, the original amendment did not differentiate between "online games" and "online real money games."

To address this issue, the latest changes to the regulations have now defined these two types of games. An "online game" is now defined as a game that is offered on the internet and can be accessed by a user through a computer resource or intermediary. On the other hand, an "online real money game" is a game where a user makes a deposit in cash or kind with the expectation of earning winnings on that deposit.

While the revised amendments do differentiate between online games and online real money games (RMG) based on whether or not cash has been deposited with the expectation of earning winnings, the push to use this demarcation is still not significant. RMG industry associations and some RMG and fantasy sports companies have supported the changes made in the IT Rules in India. However, some companies have not adopted the new definition of "Online Real Money Games" to describe their products and services and continue to use the broader term "Online Games." There is no legal enforcement to compel them to use the new definitions, and they are free to use the terminology they prefer.

AFK Gaming’s Perspective: This differentiation is crucial as it allows regulators to set specific rules for online real money games to prevent them from being used for illegal activities such as money laundering or fraud. Additionally, this distinction may also help address concerns around problem gambling and the protection of vulnerable individuals at risk of developing a gambling addiction.

Overall, the updated regulations provide more clarity and transparency around online gaming in India. By introducing specific rules and regulations for online real money games, the government aims to ensure that these activities are conducted in a safe, fair, and transparent manner, thereby promoting responsible gaming practices.

However, the success of these changes ultimately depends on how well they are implemented and followed by both RMG and online gaming companies. To ensure that the new definitions are adhered to, the government may need to introduce more stringent measures, such as fines or penalties for non-compliance. Additionally, the government could work with industry associations and self-regulatory bodies to promote the adoption of the new definitions and encourage best practices across the industry.

Quick News

  • Indian esports organization Orangutan Gaming announced a partnership with real estate company Raiaskaran. Through this unique partnership, both organizations will be jointly involved in content creation, social media campaigns, in-person events, and other forms of engagement. Raiaskaran’s logo is also featured on Orangutan Gaming’s official jersey as a ‘Powered-by’ partner.

  • Indian tournament organizer Upthrust Esports hosted the first competitive tournament for Krafton’s latest PVP strategy game, Road to Valor: Empires. Dubbed The Multiverse Series - Road to Valor: Empires, this tournament featured a total prize pool of INR 50,000 where ardent players were pitted against the top content creators in India. Mukul "8bit Mafia" Anchal was crowned as the winner and became India’s first Road to Valor: Empires champion.

  • Krafton’s official New State Mobile tournament titled New State Mobile Battle Adda featuring 32 of the best teams from India came to a conclusion on 30th April. Revenant Esports was crowned the champion while Rithvii from OR Esports has been named as the MVP.

  • The Mobile Awards called the MOBIES will be hosted on 14th July in Los Angeles, California to celebrate and recognize top-class performance and innovation in mobile gaming. Many Indian esports and gaming personalities have been nominated under various categories. Naman "MortaL" Sandeep Mathur and Jonathan "JONATHAN" Amaral have been nominated for 'Mobile Content Creator of the Year' while Harsh "Goblin" Paudwal has been nominated for 'Mobile Player of the Year'. Yours truly, AFK Gaming has also been nominated under the category of Coverage Platform of the Year.’

  • Pune-based publisher SuperGaming announced that the made-in-India battle royale Indus crossed 1.5 Million pre-registrations. The developer team is currently working on getting Indus ready for its esports audience as it announced its 4th community playtest where players can test out the game’s esports features.

  • Homegrown gaming and streaming platform Loco entered its third year and celebrated the occasion with a week-long campaign called #LocoLevel3 with exciting product releases and content. According to Loco, the platform has witnessed 7x daily active users (DAU) growth, 3x active streamer growth, and 47x growth in live watch hours. According to data from Sensortower, in 2022, Loco also achieved a 65% market share (by DAU) in the game streaming sector.

  • Indian esports organization Revenant Esports announced its participation in the Valorant Challengers League 2023: South Asia Split 2 and the team houses a six-player international roster. Revenant Esports also took social media by storm by releasing an edgy video, targeting other organizations that participated in Split 1.

  • Blind Esports announced its Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) roster which includes six players including four former Global Esports players.

  • Orangutan Gaming emerged victorious in the Valorant Challengers League South Asia: Split 1 after defeating Gods Reign with a 3-0 scoreline, and took home $14,000 USD.

  • The Valorant Challengers League South Asia: Split 2 kicked off on 29th April. The tournament boasts a total prize pool of $100,000 USD (INR 81,74,550) which will be split among the participants based on their overall standings. The winner of Split 2 will also get a chance to compete in the Valorant Challengers Ascension 2023: Pacific.

  • Global Esports which is currently participating in the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) Pacific League 2023 picked up two crucial wins against the likes of Talon Esports and Gen.G. The team will have to pack a punch in the rest of the remaining matches to move further ahead in the standings. 

Looking Forward

While March was a bit downbeat with claims of esports dying, April was a rather promising month filled with esports action and hustle-bustle. In good news, May is going to be action-packed with so many esports tournaments picking up steam. Fans will get to watch Valorant esports uninterrupted this month with Valorant Challengers League 2023 South Asia Split 2 and the Valorant Champions Tour 2023: Pacific League. 

The whole community is excited to see if Global Esports can carry forth its winning momentum and make it to the playoffs of the VCT 2023 Pacific League. Meanwhile, the race is on to find out which team from the VCL 2023 South Asia will get to compete in the all-important Valorant Challengers Ascension 2023: Pacific. 

Likewise, fans are also extremely delighted to see The Skyesports Masters shaping up with rigor in front of their eyes. The tournament organizer will soon be announcing details regarding the location and ticket sales of the Mumbai LAN, which is going to be a celebration of esports. 

Talking about celebration, esports personalities, and content creators from India getting recognized in the mobile gaming space is incredibly encouraging and motivating. India’s presence on the global map signifies that as a community we are on the right track to becoming a superpower in gaming and esports. The likes of MortaL, JONATHAN, and Goblin have been nominated under different categories at the MOBIES 2023. You can vote for your favorite personalities, games, and perhaps AFK Gaming as well by heading to the official page of MOBIES 2023. There are a total of eleven categories and only one vote per category can be submitted.

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Sadakshi has been a gamer throughout her life and has followed League of Legends since Season 3, immediately falling in love with the esports scene. Bringing in her print journalism experience, she focuses on content that is both informative and innovative. While her heart still remains with League, her love for competition has pushed her to explore other titles such as Valorant and Apex Legends.