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The world of Esports in India: A new era of digital competition

The world of Esports in India: A new era of digital competition

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Recently, the Omen Valorant Challengers South Asia Split 2 LAN playoffs in Chattarpur showcased the electrifying atmosphere of Indian esports. The stadium was filled with fans rooting for their favourite teams, demonstrating the immense popularity and potential of esports in the country. This momentum is set to continue with upcoming events like THE FINALS Esports Revolution Showdown hosted by Skyesports in Chennai on July 7, 2024.

Skyesports, a premier name in gaming and esports, is bringing together the country’s top gamers for an intense tournament featuring a $5,000 prize pool. The event promises high-stakes competition, with teams led by famous gaming personalities like Scout, Mortal, Sentinel, and Binks. Esports in India is not just a hobby; it’s a rapidly growing industry where players can earn titles, fame, and significant financial rewards.

As these events gain traction, they highlight the vibrant and competitive spirit of Indian gamers, positioning esports as a major cultural and economic force in the country.

Esports in India: A booming industry with challenges and a bight future

Esports, or electronic sports, refers to competitive gaming at a professional level where individuals or teams compete in various video games. Globally, esports has become a multi-billion-dollar industry, drawing millions of viewers and offering lucrative career opportunities for players, coaches, commentators, and more.

Historical Context

In the early days, gaming in India was largely a casual activity, confined to homes and neighbourhood cyber cafes. The 1990s and early 2000s saw a rise in PC gaming, with titles like Counter-Strike and Age of Empires becoming popular among young gamers. However, these games were primarily played for leisure, with little to no organised competitive structure. The concept of esports was still in its infancy, and professional gaming was virtually unheard of.

The gradual shift towards organised esports began with a few key milestones

Early tournaments and gaming cafes

In the mid-2000s, gaming cafes like Zapak Gameplex started to emerge in urban areas. These venues became hubs for local competitions, fostering a nascent competitive gaming culture.
Early tournaments organised by these cafes, though small, began to attract attention. Events like the World Cyber Games (WCG) qualifiers in India provided a platform for gamers to showcase their skills on a larger stage.
Rise of online gaming platforms

With the advent of faster internet connections and affordable smartphones, online gaming platforms like Garena and Battle.net gained popularity. These platforms facilitated more organised play and introduced ranking systems, which spurred competitive gaming.

Formation of esports organisations

Around 2010, the formation of esports organisations like Nodwin Gaming marked a significant turning point. Nodwin’s involvement in hosting large-scale tournaments and partnering with international events helped legitimise esports in India.

ESL India Premiership: Launched in 2016, the ESL India Premiership became one of the country’s most prominent esports leagues, featuring games like Dota 2, CS, and Clash Royale.
PUBG Mobile Tournaments: The release of PUBG Mobile in 2018 was a game-changer. The game quickly gained massive popularity, leading to high-profile tournaments such as the PUBG Mobile India Series and PUBG Mobile Club Open, which offered significant prize pools and drew millions of viewers.

Influential gamers and streamers like Naman Mathur (Mortal) and Animesh Agarwal (Thug) played a crucial role in popularising esports. Their success stories and dedicated fan bases helped shift public perception of gaming from a hobby to a viable career path.

These milestones, coupled with the growing accessibility of gaming technology, laid the foundation for the vibrant esports scene we see in India today.

Fuelling the rise

Affordable internet and connectivity: The widespread availability of high-speed internet, particularly mobile data, has been a game-changer. 4G and upcoming 5G technology promise even smoother online gaming experiences.

Smartphones and mobile gaming: The surge in smartphone adoption with powerful processors and high-resolution displays have democratised gaming access. Titles like PUBG Mobile, Free Fire, and Call of Duty Mobile have become immensely popular, attracting millions to competitive esports.

Advancements in Gaming PCs and hardware: The growing availability of cost-effective gaming PCs and peripherals has further fuelled the scene. Brands like Dell, Acer, and ASUS offer gaming laptops and desktops tailored for esports enthusiasts. High-refresh-rate monitors, gaming mice, and keyboards are becoming more affordable, enhancing the experience for competitive players.

Demographic dynamics

Large and tech-savvy population: India boasts the world’s largest youth population, with over 600 million people under 25. This tech-savvy demographic is highly engaged with digital entertainment. Esports’ interactive and competitive nature makes it a favorite pastime for this audience.

Government and corporate support

Government initiatives and recognition: The Indian government has begun recognizing esports as a legitimate sport. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is exploring including esports in sports development programs. The Esports Federation of India (ESFI) plays a crucial role in lobbying for official recognition and organizing national and international events.

Corporate Investments and Sponsorships

Major corporations like Red Bull, Coca-Cola, and Samsung are increasingly investing in esports by partnering with organizations and tournaments, providing sponsorships and marketing support. Additionally, tech giants like Intel and NVIDIA contribute through sponsorships and technology offerings.

Support from Esports Organisations

Organisations like Skyesports, Nodwin Gaming, and ROG Masters are at the forefront, organizing high-profile tournaments and leagues with substantial prize pools. These platforms provide players with visibility and recognition. The rise of content creators and streamers further amplifies esports reach, attracting sponsorships and partnerships.Esports Tournaments and Events

Major Tournaments

  • ESL India Premiership
  • DreamHack India
  • India gaming Show

Local Leagues and Competitions

  • The Esports Club (TEC) Challenger Series: A series of local tournaments covering games like Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, and FIFA.
  • Skyesports Championship: Skyesports hosts numerous regional tournaments, including the Skyesports Championship and Skyesports Grand Slam.
  • Local LAN Events: Numerous smaller LAN events are regularly organized in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi. These events often feature popular titles like CS and Dota 2.

Tech Revolution: AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) experiences could enhance spectator engagement, while 5G offers the potential for lag-free, high-fidelity online gaming, creating a more immersive experience for players and viewers alike.

India’s young, tech-savvy population, coupled with increasing government and corporate support, positions the country as a major player in the global esports arena. As technology continues to evolve and challenges are overcome, the future of Indian esports is one of exhilarating competition, passionate fan engagement, and boundless potential.

Shefali Johnson, Chief of Staff at NODWIN Gaming, discusses the esports landscape in India and offers insights on how students can navigate this virtual world and step into competitive gaming. She highlights the current opportunities and future enhancements in the industry.


Many students and parents in India view esports as just playing video games. How would you introduce the various career opportunities within the esports industry—such as players, analysts, and commentators—in a fun and engaging way to young people?


To introduce students and parents to the diverse career opportunities in esports, the easiest and most important way is to provide them with a live and interactive experience. For instance, during our events, we often encounter kids who express interest in pursuing various roles within esports, whether it be playing their favorite games or exploring other aspects of the industry. Showing them the behind-the-scenes processes, such as the different aspects that go into making a game, the preparation and training of players, the work involved in broadcasting, and the various roles that contribute to an esports event, helps them understand the industry better.

We have also had occasions where parents joined their children at our gaming festival to better understand the event and support their kids’ interests, as they were unsure about what was happening. When they saw that esports involves much more than just playing games and also offers opportunities all over the globe, they began to understand what their children were interested in as well as the potential career paths available in esports.

I believe schools organizing field trips to esports companies and live events can also offer students first hand exposure. This approach will not only educate students but also reassure parents about the potential and legitimacy of an esports career. Partnering with educational institutions to organize such trips can further bridge the gap between interest and understanding, providing a comprehensive view of the esports ecosystem.


Can schools incorporate esports into their curriculum, perhaps as an after-school program, to nurture skills like teamwork, strategy, and problem-solving in a safe and educational environment?


Yes, incorporating esports into the curriculum can be highly beneficial. Beyond just nurturing skills like teamwork, strategy, and problem-solving, esports can also be used to teach academic subjects in an engaging way.

For example, physics can be taught through games that involve calculating speed and distance, such as shooting games or car racing games. By integrating the science behind these games into the curriculum, students can learn complex concepts in a fun and interactive manner. This approach not only makes learning more enjoyable but also demonstrates the practical applications of academic subjects within the context of esports.


Balancing studies with gaming can be tricky. What advice can you give students who are interested in pursuing esports careers to manage their time effectively and ensure their academic success?


Esports is the pinnacle of video gaming and just like any professional sport, only a limited number of players reach the top. For example, almost all of us have grown up playing cricket, but not everyone becomes a professional cricketer. Therefore, it is important for students to understand that esports requires a high level of commitment and practice.

Students aspiring to enter the esports industry must maintain a balance to safeguard their academic performance. They need to have a structured routine that dedicates sufficient time to both academics and esports practice. Consequently, having a backup plan and performing well academically is vital. While pursuing esports should be a serious aspiration, it should not come at the expense of education. This balanced approach ensures that students have multiple career paths available to them.


For students passionate about esports, what are some helpful resources or platforms available in India to connect with mentors, coaches, or potential esports teams?


The Indian esports industry is highly inclusive and offers various avenues for aspiring professionals to connect with mentors, coaches, and teams. Social media platforms are a great starting point to follow and interact with industry stakeholders. Many esports teams and organizations run programs and events where students can meet and learn from experienced professionals.

Attending gaming events, conferences, and workshops provides opportunities to network and gain insights from industry experts. Programs run by esports teams often include mentorship and coaching sessions. Engaging with these resources allows students to build connections, gain knowledge, and explore different career paths within the esports industry.


Given NODWIN Gaming’s global presence, how do you see the future of esports evolving in India compared to other regions like South Asia, Singapore, the Middle East, and Turkey?


Esports in India is evolving rapidly, primarily due to the country’s mobile-first approach. The widespread availability of affordable smartphones and cheap data has made gaming accessible to a vast population. Compared to other regions like South Asia, Singapore, the Middle East, and Turkey, India has a unique advantage due to its large and growing mobile gaming community. As a result, India is on track to become the largest mobile gaming market in the world.


What exciting developments do you foresee for the future of esports in India, especially in terms of fostering young talent and creating educational pathways in this growing industry?


A promising and significant initiative is the introduction of student internships. At NODWIN Gaming, we have already launched internships and volunteer programs at our events, enabling young enthusiasts to gain practical experience and explore diverse roles within esports. These initiatives not only meet our operational requirements but also offer students opportunities to delve into roles like content creation, league operations, or on-camera positions such as casters or analysts. This approach is pivotal for nurturing and developing young talent in India.

Another exciting development is the collaboration between esports organizations and educational institutions to integrate esports into traditional education frameworks. It is imperative for the current educational system to recognize esports as a viable career path. By establishing systems and partnerships with institutes, we can develop programs in schools and colleges tailored for students interested in esports. Many universities worldwide have already embraced esports programs, and we are working towards bringing similar initiatives to India. Recognizing esports as a legitimate career choice and integrating it into education will not only nurture talent but also equip students for the future of this burgeoning industry.





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