On 28th July 2019, a 16-year-old who goes by the name ‘Kyle Giersdorf’ also known as ‘Bugha’ won the Fortnite World Cup, earning $3 million. The total prize pool of the world cup was $30 million. For comparison, the prize pool of the 2019 cricket world cup was $10 million.
As of 2020, the net worth of the E-sports industry is considered to be worth $1.1 billion, expected to grow at 15% each year.
What is ‘E-sports’?
The term ‘E-sports’ is used to describe the world of competitive and organized gaming. Some of the games that you might have heard of are: Fortnite, Counter-strike, League of Legends, Dota, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege etc. E-sports has not made its presence known in the conventional mode of entertainment which is via the television.
Instead, people who watch E-sports usually watch it on streaming platforms like Twitch, Youtube or even Hotstar for that matter.
How does E-sports compare with other sports?
There have been a lot of predictions regarding e-sport leagues in the United States of America and how could it beat other sports leagues in America soon. One of the prediction is that E-sport in America is going to have more viewers than any other sports league in America except the National Football League (NFL). Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) are two of the most popular leagues not only in the United States of America but also the world.
However, NBA is expected to bring in 63 million viewers and the MLB is expected to bring in 79 million viewers in 2021. E-sports, however, is expected to bring in 84 million viewers, second only to the NFL which is expected to bring in 141 million viewers.
With the pandemic, e-sports, in general, have grown their audience as it does not necessarily require its players to be physically present to get the games going and provide entertainment for the audience.
What makes E-sports unique and interesting is that joining the competitions and becoming a professional is relatively easy compared to other sports. This makes it very attractive to people who want to become a professional or at least get a taste of how it feels to be a professional.
A lot of professional teams such as Manchester City (English Soccer club), Paris Saint Germain (French Soccer Club), Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets (NBA teams) also own e-sports teams. This increased interest and investment shows that people expect the e-sports industry to grow and are not hesitating to pounce on the opportunity.
E-sports in India, its history and where is it heading?
People who do not follow e-sports in India might not have heard the name of ‘Nikhil Kumawat’. He was a member of Optic India which was a team that played and won Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments.
On 19th October 2018, there was a match between Optic India and RevolutionVN in a tournament held in Shanghai. Optic India was a great team but never a top contender and certainly not the favorites to win. This is where everything went downhill for e-sports in India, so bad that the team of Optic India had to be disbanded.
‘Nikhil Kumawat’ whose in-game name was ‘Forsaken’ was caught cheating and the team of immediately kicked out of the tournament.
This incident put a major dent on the reputation of India in e-sports. As it was an international tournament, this incident gained a lot of attention in the e-sports community in general which made the matter worse for the image of India in the international e-sports community. This incident is probably the only incident related to India as of now when it comes to the e-sports community in general.
After this incident, can India possibly improve its reputation and improve in e-sports in general?
Yes, in fact, India is growing a lot when it comes to e-sports.
PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS also known as ‘PUBG’ is a very popular game throughout the world. However, mobile gaming has become very popular in South Asia, Africa and South America.
PUBG was, in fact, a phenomenon and very popular when it was released, it remains popular among many e-sports enthusiasts all around the globe.
There were many international tournaments where teams from India participated. PUBG is not the only game where India is making its presence known, games like Dota, FIFA and Call of Duty also have a lot of teams from India.
As of 2020, it is very easy to watch competitive teams fight for silverware on many platforms such as Twitch, Hotstar and even on Youtube.
The future of E-sports in India does not look bad, but predicting how well will it grow is hard to say since minor and major events will influence the growth of e-sports a lot. If a team from India wins an international tournament then maybe the growth will be fast and astounding, but if no teams from India qualify for any tournaments or are involved in an incident which causes problems then the growth might be stunted.
Team SOUL is one of the most popular teams of PUBG mobile in India. SOUL has participated in a lot of international tournaments and has won many domestic tournaments. The team is internationally recognized as well, its key player ‘Naman Mathur’ whose in-game name is ‘Mortal’, he is extremely popular among the youth of India who follows PUBG mobile.
Hopefully, India produces more teams and for other games. It is a great source of employment and a great source of entertainment as well.
Sidharth Panda is a sports enthusiast who also happens to have a keen interest in the universe.