Valorant making inroads in India's booming esports market
India boasts the world's sixth largest economy and the third largest based on spending power, and it is fast becoming a significant factor in the global esports market.
While rival nations such as China and South Korea still dominate the esports business in Asia, esports are becoming increasingly popular in India. CS:GO and Dota2 both had significant following among India's esports fans, but it was PUBG, released in 2017, that pushed through to the mainstream, becoming known to all age groups.
This uptick in esports interest was given a huge boost during the COVID-19 lockdown, as gamers and those who had previously not taken much of an interest in esports began playing online. And, perfectly timed to take advantage of the growing market, a new esports game has arrived on the scene that has the potential to provide a huge boost to the Indian esports sector.
Valorant is a compelling esports title produced by legendary games developers Riot Games who were also behind the creation of League of Legends (LOL), the hugely popular MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) title. LOL is one of the big three esports titles that dominate the sector globally in terms of in terms of viewership and number of bets generated by fans as claimed by esportsbettingtop, along with Dota2 and CS:GO. In fact, the LOL World Finals of 2018 generated a live viewing audience of more than 99.6 million viewers, a record that marked a new level in esports history, and that is yet to be surpassed.
Now Riot Games are hoping that Valorant will replicate that success, and the early signs are that India could be one of the main Valorant nations for years to come.
Released globally on June 2, 2020, Valorant is an intriguing first person tactical shooter that appears to be modelled to an extent on LOL as it consists of five players per team, with each player possessing their own unique skills. This format is not entirely original, but it has been expertly realized in Valorant. Crucially, the relatively low computing system requirements of Valorant make it accessible to a wide diversity of players around the world, including professionals and casual players.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Valorant is that every hero in the game has a fascinating array of abilities, all of which have the potential to prove decisive to the team's success or failure. In this respect, it compares favourable to shooters such as CS:GO, which are effectively based around either point black shooting or long range sniper skills. In Valorant, players can use their ability to lead to multiple possible outcomes in each situation.
That extra dimension of tactical play is further enhanced by the teamwork element, and the result is a different type of esports team play experience, and a significant change in the dominant Indian esports culture, which is based heavily around tactical gun conflict. Effectively, Valorant has presented itself as the perfect esports title, combining team play and tactical elements.
Valorant's potential has already been recognized by many well known streamers such as Ninja, who has made the transition to the new game, bringing his sizeable fan base over to the game. For the time being, Indian esports streamers are still favouring the esports that have held sway in the nation for the last few years, namely PUBG and COD Mobile, but there are signs that Valorant is rising in popularity among the Indian streaming community.
Given that the Indian esports market was already booming during the ongoing pandemic, it is likely that Valorant will help to propel further interest. There are already ongoing discussions about the development of dedicated Valorant server for the Indian esports gaming community.
The growing interest in Valorant has also led to a proliferation of Valorant-related tournaments. The India Today Valorant Cup of September last year proved to be a huge success, and it has been followed by two more successful competitions. The Skyesports League was a mammoth 52-day tournament that ran from April to June this year, won by the Rajasthan Strikers. That was immediately followed by the Rise of Legends 2021 competitions, which featured Valorant teams from three nations, eventually won by Indian esports team Global Esports.One of the barriers to esports growth in India has been accessibility. Cost factors and the requirement to utilize high specification PCs meant that some games are only accessible to the wealthy and to high profile streamers. By creating a playable and engaging esports title that is free to play and runs on most PCs, Riot Games may have provided the player engagement fuel that can propel the Indian esports sector to a new level of dominance in the global market.