Esports has gained monumental attention in the last couple of years across the world, which has led to its exponential growth. Of course, most of its credit goes to the massive investments it has gained from gaming and technology firms, making it mobile friendly and huge coverage across streaming platforms.
Though esports leagues were commonplace in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia, with the availability of good internet, investors now are tapping the gigantic Indian market. Eventually, leagues and competitions are becoming popular in the country.
In 2019, KPMG report affirmed that esports was worth INR 43.8 billion and was expected to grow to INR 118.8 billion by the end of 2023. This makes it the 17th largest esports market in the world.
Online games are not limited to console titles like Call of Duty and PUBG. Online poker tournaments have been taking place for several years before other games. While lot of esports competitions are based around PC or console games, mobile games are growing in adoption by organisers. This is one of the key drivers for the growth of Indian esports since the country has the world’s second-largest number of smartphone users.
Since smartphones are useful in other areas of life, people are much more likely to have them than consoles. They’re also more likely to have a high-speed internet connection with a smartphone than a computer thanks to existing 4G infrastructure and expected rollout of 5G. Downloads of mobile games from app stores grew 165% between 2016 and 2018, the highest increase than any other country. Between 2010 and 2018, the number of Indian online gamers increased from 20 million to 250 million. This figure reached 300 million in 2019 and is expected to exceed 440 million in next two years.
Over the years, esports titles like Dota 2, Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CSGO), and PlayerUnknown's BattleGround Mobile (PUBGM) have been the major drivers of India's booming esports industry. In the past, Dota 2 has consistently been one of the most popular esports titles in India. Having commanded the lion’s share of prize money paid out in Indian esports, an ardent fan base, and a rising number of professional teams, the game hit the heights of its popularity in India in 2016-2017. Since then, the prize pool has continued to increase over the years. Whereas, the popularity of Counter Strike: Global Offensive has increased substantially, recording over 800,000 concurrent players in January 2020. The CS: GO competitive scene in India has evolved and many new teams have risen to prominence, giving a tough time to the veteran teams.
However, it was PUBGM that became the gamechanger for Indian esports ecosystem. PUBG was originally a game made for PC and console. It was launched for mobile users in March 2018. In a short span of time, PUBGM became a hot favourite among all gaming enthusiasts. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi became aware of the impact of the PUBG game among the youth of India. PUBGM has been the game of choice for Indians last month. Around 22 lakh people played PUBGM last month which is far ahead of the second most popular game.
With the steady popularity of these games, many esports organisations were formed to encourage Indians to explore the sea of opportunities esports has to offer. Yuvin Esports is the Indian esports organisation that strives to cultivate esports culture in India, chisel amateur players into pro-players. Founder Sharang 'Sharkyy' Naicker started building teams for DOTA 2 in 2016 and was a bellwether of team esports games in the country. Their DOTA2 teams, Reckoning Esports is ranked 2nd best in India.
Recalling the meagre prize pools during his competitive days, Sharang says that PUBG is the game that ignited the esports industry in India. “India is on the map of esports because of PUBGM and it will go on to be the case for other esports titles as well. Earlier, the prize pool consisted of Rs.10,000 to 20,000. Nowadays, it has gone to USD millions.”
Since last year, Yuvin Esports has been organising a Community Cup, a competition of various esports titles that saw a successful first season, which attracted over 600k engagement across various social platforms. And now they are back with Season 2. This time with more titles, a greater number of teams and a much bigger prize pool. YCC Season 2 will be held between 26th June to 7th July 2020 and spread over 3 major esports titles.
Dota 2 competition has a mix of qualifying and invitational format. 29 teams from eight South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and India registered for the tournament. The qualifying rounds were held on 20-21st June. Two teams each from India and Pakistan have qualified for 2nd stage. Indian teams are viz. Sleepy Boisz and Team Randoms while Ninja Titun and Zealous Gaming from Pakistan have progressed ahead. Considering the robust DOTA2 community, Myanmar based teams are special invitees in finals of YCC S2. The final stage will be held between 26th June to 29th June 2020.
CSGO (12 teams) and PUBGM (24 teams) will see participation from only Indian teams.
The tournament is going to be an amazing treat for the esports enthusiasts specially for DOTA2 lovers across South Asia and Southeast Asia regions. The matches will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
There are multiple engagement activities planned over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for the reveals.