February 2023 Indian Esports Rewind

Sadakshi Kalyan Ramun
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>The month of February saw the Indian esports scene make headlines on different fronts.</p></div>
The month of February saw the Indian esports scene make headlines on different fronts.


AFK Gaming

The month of February saw the Indian esports scene make headlines on different fronts. From an esports organization appearing on prime-time television to the President of India gracing an all-women Valorant LAN, these stories made people stop and take a closer look at what esports truly is. Having said all that, here’s a recap of everything important that happened in February 2023 in Indian esports.

President Draupadi Murmu Presides Over India’s First-Ever All-Female Valorant LAN 

The Windows 11 Skyesports Grand Slam Season 3 featured top creators and teams competing for glory on 16th and 17th February during the India Gaming Show (IGS). This event saw the return of Skyesports’ all-female esports IP, Skyesports Luna, this time as a LAN event with Valorant, making it India’s first-ever all-female Valorant LAN. One of the highlights of the LAN was the presence of the President of India, Draupadi Murmu in the JetSynthesys Gaming Arena in the IGS. According to The News Minute, the President talked about the scope of women empowerment in the gaming industry while conversing with JetSynthesys Founder and CEO Rajan Navani and Skyesports CEO Shiva Nandy.

Another headliner at the India Gaming Show 2023 was Riot Games’ immersive experience into the Valorant universe where it exhibited a photo arena featuring the game’s most iconic map sites and Harbor’s jewels.

Themed ‘Defining New Frontiers - The Future of Gaming in India,’ the India Gaming Show 2023 took place in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. It hosted a captivating array of programs and discussions, LANs, exhibitions, international conferences, esports events, and cosplay shows, among others. 

AFK Gaming’s Perspective: The Indian Gaming Community (IGC) continues to grow by the day and the presence of the Indian President at the India Gaming Show 2023 during the all-female Valorant LAN shines a positive light on women gamers in the country. Recognition from the government and office bearers will push more women to consider esports and gaming as career paths. Moreover, Riot Games’ continual interest and investment in the South Asian region is also reassuring for the IGC.

Riot Games Appoints Arun Rajappa as Country Manager

Riot Games appointed Arun Rajappa as Country Manager for India and South Asia on 16 February as part of its expansion plan in the region. According to the announcement, Rajappa will be responsible for developing business in the region and leading a team to curate hyperlocal activities, as well as creating immersive player experiences for Riot's growing pool of players across various titles, esports, and entertainment.

Rajappa, who has previously worked in executive roles in leading tech firms including Google and Microsoft, will be the India representative for Riot Games and will report to Shinji Komiyama, Director of Country Management for Asia Pacific. 

Riot Games has increased its marketing efforts in the Indian market through various initiatives and activations, including the launch of Harbor (Valorant's first Indian agent) and Lotus (a new Valorant map inspired by traditional Indian architecture). The company has also utilized billboards featuring prominent Indian esports teams and personalities to promote its products. In addition, Riot recently partnered with Nodwin Gaming to launch the Valorant Challengers League South Asia featuring $140 Thousand USD (INR 1.15 Crore) in prize money.

AFK Gaming’s Perspective: Riot Games' appointment of Arun Rajappa as the Country Manager for India and South Asia and increased efforts to create localized experiences to appeal to Indian gamers suggests that the company is focussing on increasing its player base in the region. With Rajappa's experience in building high-quality products and teams, he is expected to be a valuable asset in Riot's plans to expand and thrive in the Indian market. 

In addition, Rajappa's appointment could facilitate improved communication with tournament organizers, esports organizations, and other stakeholders in the country, particularly with the launch of the Valorant Challengers League South Asia 2023.

Quick News

  • Indian esports tournament organizer and gaming company Upthrust Esports appeared in Shark Tank India on 7th February which was telecasted on Sony LIV and Sony Entertainment Television. Although none of the sharks invested in the company, Upthrust Esports claims that it is planning to onboard partners, investors, and sponsors to take esports to the next level. 

  • nCore Games made a strategic investment of $1 Million USD in gaming company Newgen Gaming which operates in the esports sector through Penta Esports. Founded in 2021, Newgen Gaming has industry veterans Anurag Khurana and Kiran Noojibail, and Akshay Paul and Krishanu Ghosal at its helm. With the investment, Newgen Gaming will scale its operations in South Asia and Middle-East, and North Africa (MENA). 

  • Kratos Studios, the new web3 gaming venture of ex-CEO of Nazara Technologies Manish Agarwal, and Ishank Gupta raised INR 160 Crore at a valuation of INR 1200 Crore. The seed round was led by Accel and saw the participation of investors including Prosus Ventures, Courtside Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, Nazara, and others. Notably, Kratos Studios also acquired IndiGG through a successful token swap. 

  • Indian esports giants S8UL Esports and Global Esports (GE) formed a strategic alliance by pooling their resources and strengths in the areas of PC Gaming, esports, and content creation, to develop the Valorant ecosystem in the country. With this partnership, S8UL Esports made its entry into competitive Valorant. 

  • Global Esports represented the Pacific region at Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) LOCK//IN 2023 at São Paulo, Brazil but was eliminated in the first round of the tournament. However, Global Esports had its glory moments in the matchup and had a lot of positives to take away. Star player Ganesh "SkRossi" Gangadhar gained global recognition during the series. Notably, SkRossi is taking part in the Valorant showmatch between Tarik “tarik” Celik and Leonardo “frttt” Braz on 4th March before the grand final of VCT LOCK//IN. 

  • NODWIN Gaming and Riot Games entered a two-year strategic partnership to host the Valorant Challengers League South Asia tournament. Apart from hosting the tournament, the two entities will also work to exclusively monetize the Valorant Challenger League in South Asia through sponsorship and media rights.

  • Anaadi Army emerged victorious in the Open Qualifier for Valorant Challengers League South Asia which saw the participation of 137 teams from across South Asia. Following this, Anaadi Army has secured itself a slot in the main event of Valorant Challengers League South Asia and has a chance to qualify for the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) Asia Pacific Ascension 2023.

  • Indian esports organization and a Riot Games-partnered organization Global Esports achieved sizeable reach and staggering viewership in 2022. Global Esports CEO Rushindra Sinha revealed that in 2022, Global Esports’ videos on YouTube reached 250 Million impressions with a total of 30 Million views with a watch time of 1.8 Million hours and 108 Million minutes. The organization has also accumulated over 600,000 subscribers. 

  • Krafton convened its Q4 2022 Earnings Call at the start of February and Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) was the subject of discussions. While Krafton’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) acknowledged the adverse effect of BGMI’s ban, they affirmed that the company is committed to resuming services in India. However, Krafton did not confirm BGMI’s unban in India or provide a date or timeline for the same, thus squashing all misleading reports and rumors.

  • India's Finance Minister, Nirmala Seetharaman, presented the Union Budget on 2nd February, 2023, which introduced direct taxation for online gaming through Section 194BA in the Finance Bill. The budget differentiated between skill-based and luck-based gaming with the aim of legitimizing the online gaming industry and providing certainty to taxation, potentially fueling growth in the sector.

Indian Esports Tournaments in February 2023: A recap

Looking forward 

We kicked off the month of March with the news of Villager Esports looking to raise its first investment. Villager Esports Founder Kuldeep Lather said that the focus for the next phase lies with technological innovation in gaming alongside its community-focused esports vertical. The company was founded in 2019 with an objective to inform people about the unique opportunities present within the esports ecosystem. 

To refresh your memories, in January 2023, India was provided with a direct slot in the Overwatch World Cup 2023. In line with this, the India Open trials took place on 24th February and team LINEAR has secured itself a guaranteed tryout for India's World Cup team. Now, according to the schedule by Blizzard, the open tryouts for the World Cup will be taking place in March. 

There’s more good news coming your way if you are a Valorant fan. The open qualifiers of the Valorant Challengers League South Asia concluded recently and NODWIN Gaming and Riot Games will soon be announcing the main stage of the tournament where teams will be competing for a chance to qualify for the VCT Asia Pacific Ascension 2023 tournament.

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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.