We are living in an unprecedented time. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to most countries adopting strict lockdown, social distancing measures, and millions of people are forced to stay at home. When many of us would typically be attending sports events or at least watching them live on TV, the times are being spent inside our homes mostly away from sports. Nevertheless, the global video game industry is thriving, despite the widespread economic disruption caused by the coronavirus. With the practice of social distancing reducing consumer and business activity to a minimum, gaming offers an engaging distraction for people at home looking for social interaction, and initial data shows huge growth in playing time and sales since the lockdowns began.
Gaming in India is growing at a pretty rapid pace and to support this growth, tournaments are being organised frequently, which are attracting more and more participants every day. A Bengaluru based Indian esports platform, The Esports Club, has remained active in partnering with companies to serve the gaming and esports industries in India.
Earlier this year, The Esports Club partnered with Ahmedabad’s first-ever ComicCon, in an effort to create an exclusive gaming experience for the community. More recently, it launched a five-month-long league for Rainbow Six Siege, sponsored by the likes of Western Digital, ZOTAC Gaming, LG Ultragear and ACT Fibernet
With the ongoing Pandemic, The Esports Club is organizing a first major Valorant Tournament from June 20 to June 30 (Grand Finale on 30th). The Esports Club AMD Valorant Cup is the sub-continents largest Valorant tournament, open to players from India, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka. Players will be competing for a prize pool of Rs 70,000, split between the top eight teams! The response for the event has been tremendous, potentially the best ever for a PC title in India with over 3,000 players signing up in less than a week!
Currently, the tournament which initially comprised 64 teams, has been expanded to 384 teams to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for a slot in the first major tournament. The AMD Valorant Cup is shaping up to be the largest PC esports event in the country and one of the largest Valorant tournaments in the world.
The Bridge got a chance to speak with Mr Ishaan Arya, the Co-founder and Head of Business Development of The Esports Club, who took us through the journey of the organisation and how the Valorant tournament is shaping up.
Q: Tell us about the foundation of the Esports Club?
Ans: At The Esports Club, we believe in providing a platform that enables existing and aspiring esports players to continue and play, grow and earn while providing gaming brands with a more long term, sustainable and scalable investment option in the realm of esports. Our first party events provide teams & players with a long-term roadmap for esports to help them take it seriously while creating opportunities at all tiers of competition, regardless of skill. With our entire team coming from 10 years of esports & content experiences, we bring a unique perspective to how we conduct each and every event. Our approach helps ensure all three pillars of an esport event are adequately addressed; an optimal player experience for participants; a world-class viewing experience for spectators and of course, a unique and engaging integration and visibility for partners and sponsors.
Q: How the Indian sports eco-system has thrived despite the lockdown in the present circumstances?
Ans: Two industries that have flourished in these trying times are the ‘gaming industry’ and ‘digital content (entertainment) industry’. With external activities limited, most people have turned to digital outlets like Netflix & YouTube. Viewership for live streams is up, gaming video content consumption is at an all-time high and there are more people online and playing on both PC and mobile than ever.
Q: How many teams & players have signed up for the Valorant tournament till now?
Ans: We had 4,000+ players who signed up for the event. 408 teams are currently taking part in the event, making it one of the largest PC esports events in the country and one of the largest Valorant tournaments in the world.
Q: How is the response from sub-continent countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for this tournament?
Ans: We have about 20% of the teams and players from Bangladesh and 5% from Sri Lanka
Q: Tell us a bit about Valorant
Ans: Valorant is the game for which the tournament is being hosted. It is a character-based first-person shooter developed by Riot Games. It was launched just this month and the AMD Valorant cup is one of the largest tournaments in the world for Valorant.
Q: What do you think about the future prospect of India’s Esports market?
Ans: India has a very crucial role to play in the global esports market. Due to India’s younger demographic, we consume a lot more gaming content than most developed countries and that will naturally spill over to esports. We’re already seeing that with Mobile esports with the likes of PUBG Mobile benefiting hugely. Slowly, through games like Valorant, I expect the PC market to follow suit as well, however, I fully expect the Indian esports industry to continue to be a mobile-first market and become of the biggest regions for mobile esports in the world.
Q: How is The Esports Club contributing to the esports ecosystem in India? How do you see the Indian esports market different from other countries?
Ans: Our entire core team has come from the gaming and esports industry. We realised that while everyone was looking at tapping into esports, nobody was actively looking to develop it at the grassroots level to help sustain and grow this boom. Our aim with The Esports Club was to fill this void by creating a tournament platform that would not only serve as an investment option for brands but provide professional, semi-professional and amateur gamers with a long term esports opportunity with leagues and series of tournaments spread across five to six months.
Our second core value is helping spread the wealth. We want esports to provide earning opportunities across all tiers of competition; professional, semi-professional and amateur. You will see our tournaments which run as leagues have multiple divisions so that teams are divided based on their skill and compete for their own prize pools, so you will see very little skill mismatch and everyone will have an opportunity to win and earn without having to worry about competing with teams of a significantly higher skill level. Our knockout tournaments also help spread the prize pool beyond the top 3 or 4, in line with our belief that each major event we host should reward as many teams as possible.
Also read: E-Sports and sports unite to combat COVID-19