V3nom Exclusive Interview With AFK Gaming


AFK Gaming

V3nom on Staying Relevant in Indian Esports, Inspiring Gamers, and Impact of Collegiate Events

One of the top ambassadors of gaming and esports in India.

Aditya Singh Rawat
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V3nom talks about how he continues to stay relevant and on top of Indian esports even after all these years, in an exclusive interview with AFK Gaming,
V3nom gives his opinion on the importance and impact of grassroots-level tournaments in India like the Red Bull Campus Clutch: India Finals.
V3nom also shared his plans for the future along with an important piece of advice for all upcoming gamers.

In the last few years, esports and gaming have become huge talking points in India. The current size of the Indian esports industry is around INR 250 crores and it is expected to grow by 46% in the next four years. A lot of new faces surfaced along with this boom, establishing themselves across a wide array of roles. While the new generation of professional players, streamers, and content creators, might have taken the spotlight, there are some old-timers who still continue to put in the work and are very much on top of their game.

One such personality who has always maintained his presence in the Indian gaming community is Ankit “V3nom” Panth - Red Bull player and HyperX India brand ambassador.

AFK Gaming had the opportunity to speak with V3nom during the Red Bull Campus Clutch: India Finals, discussing the importance of establishing a grassroots-level structure in Indian esports, what motivates him to continue ahead, and most importantly his advice for the next generation of gamers.

Importance and impact of grassroots level tournaments in India

The offline collegiate-level Valorant tournament which took place in Mumbai, India on 24th September was a one of a kind experience for the university students in attendance. The winners, Team Villainous, got the opportunity to travel all the way to Brazil in December later this year to attend the World Final.

“I think Red Bull Campus Clutch is a great initiative for upcoming gamers, especially for university students,” shares V3nom, “In our time such opportunities did not exist, we only used to compete in cafe-level tournaments. But now Red Bull has given young gamers a platform to feel the stage, play in front of a live audience, and understand what it takes to be a gaming athlete, even before stepping into the professional circuit.”

Winners of Red Bull Campus Clutch India Finals

He believes that such grassroots-level tournaments will help in giving a push to young talented players and assist them in finding their way into the professional scene. More established organizations turn towards such events as they serve as serious scouting grounds, allowing organizations to assess as per their requirements.

“I am sure a lot of people are keeping an eye on events like these because LAN is where it all matters. I hope in the future it will develop into a place where organizations find new players for their rosters and give opportunities to upcoming talent,” says V3nom.

Giving a personal example the Red Bull player revealed that his very own Valorant team - M42 Esports, was actually there to scout a player competing in the event. V3nom stated that the team had kept a close eye on the player’s development for quite some time, with an offer on the table stipulating that winning the tournament would guarantee him a slot in the team.

On a more personal level, V3nom shares that Red Bull often signs someone who has built their own community which is different from the rest, helping them with the smallest of things in order to improve their performance, “In my case, I have asked them for a chance to talk to other Red Bull athletes who play Valorant, so I will be able to understand what it is that India lacks and others don’t.”

V3nom continues to stay on top of Indian esports

Staying relevant and inspiring the next generation of gamers

V3nom started his journey with CS 1.6 and built his way up from there by switching to CS:GO and then later on to Valorant. V3nom’s love for competing in esports remains intact even after all these years. The secret behind his unwavering passion and drive has been attributed to the cheering of fans at LAN tournaments, the community showering him with love, and his continued desire to do a lot more for Indian esports.

“I want to make people understand that this is not child’s play. It takes years of hard work, dedication, and commitment, to get a chance for representing your country. I still need to remove a lot of misconceptions about gaming, and at the moment I am trying to balance all of these things while continuing to compete,” explains V3nom.

He points out that his dedication, love for esports, and being absolutely honest with his audience are the key factors that have contributed to him rising from a professional player into a personality who inspires his fans, even winning over the trust of some of their parents. “This has put a lot of weight on my shoulders and I feel that more still needs to be done for helping them out in understanding and clearing a lot of doubts regarding esports,” says V3nom.

Talking to the next generation of influencers, content creators, and gaming athletes, V3nom advises them to not chase fame and if they become popular they should not to let it get to their heads. Instead, he tells them to balance it out by creating a positive impact and helping others understand the pros and cons of this industry.

“Stay away from controversies, people will try to poke you but keep your head down, instead of wasting time responding to them just continue to work hard,” adds V3nom, “Don’t follow the philosophy that if you hit my eye, I will hit your eye. Take a step back and avoid that circle where people are instigating or provoking you. That’s what I have done all my life and it has been paying off well.”

As for his interaction with parents who want to connect with their kids and learn more about the world of gaming and esports, V3nom loves to educate them and clear all their doubts, opening up the industry to more people and making them feel welcome.

“There are a lot of life doubts parents ask me, about my gaming journey, about the game, and every time I meet them it is a new question, so I feel that till the time I can answer these questions I am relevant and can keep going,” states V3nom.

Is fitness in esports a necessity?

Despite being a professional athlete and a streamer, V3nom always finds enough time to stay healthy which helps him focus better, stay away from injuries, prevent the negative impact of gaming, and ensure career longevity.

He thinks both physical and mental fitness is definitely important in esports due to the high-pressure demand of the profession, “It requires hours of dedicated practice from players, which means sitting in the same posture, and if you don’t have a strong back or a body that can handle that kind of stress, one can start falling prey to injuries.”

Promoting physical and mental well being for gamers

Giving a personal example from his experience, V3nom says that he has witnessed multiple players facing wrist and back injuries because they don’t exercise those areas, facing lesions due to stress and fatigue.

“I have done all those things and till today, I’m 33 years old playing for more than 15 years, I don’t have any injuries,” states V3nom, reasoning that it is not because of luck but a result of his hard work in the gym, “I keep myself fit and put the effort in taking care of my body and that is what has helped me through my professional career.”

For young and mature gamers alike, he suggests meditating to improve focus, practicing yoga, and simply taking a break from the hectic schedule, essentially maintaining a healthy balance mentally and physically.

Balancing esports and fitness

Taking the day as it comes, V3nom has not thought much about his future but he often receives offers from big companies, requesting him to join their gaming or marketing departments once he is done competing, ”So that gives me a sense of surety and understanding that I have built something which is even admired in the corporate world.”

At this point in time, he is not sure what the future holds for him but for now, he will continue to compete with his Valorant team M42 Esports.

Before returning back to the event, V3nom had a quick message for all the young and aspiring esports players, “Be consistent and work hard, I am sure you must have heard all these things from a lot of gamers but this actually helps. Coming from a lower middle-class family does not mean that you won’t have a future, people say that money makes money, but if you find the will and are dedicated towards one goal then eventually the pieces will fall into place.”

He concluded by suggesting that though you choose one path, it is important to keep that balance in life where you continue to study and obtain a degree. If the set goals are not achieved in a certain timeframe, one needs to start thinking practically and understand that maybe this is not for them. A hard pill to swallow but a necessary one to move ahead in life.

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Aditya is the in-house CS:GO writer at AFK Gaming. While his understanding of the esports space is not restricted by geographical borders, his current focus lies in the Asian region. Understands and follows almost all major esport titles.

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