384 Evolution Hearthstone Cup 1

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Did you know that video gaming can be a career alternative?

Esports are now a part of Asian Games, and could soon be included in Olympics too. Lokesh Suji, Director at sports Federation of India and board member and Vice President- South Asia at the Asian Esports Federation talks to Moneycontrol about India's esports qualifiers to the Asian Games, and how gaming is shaping into a career choice.

Excerpts -

Q: India has qualified for the Asian Games—-could you share more details? 

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A: Esports have been included in the Asian Games-2018 as a demonstration sports, the games titles were announced by Asian Esports Federation (AESF) last month. Titles include Clash Royale, Hearthstone, and League of Legends. For Asian Games (esports), Asia is divided into five regions and India is part of the South Asia region. The winners of the regional finals will go for the main event at Jakarta organized by AESF. Esports Federation of India (ESFI) had conducted India qualifiers for five game titles to select the India team. Indian Esports athletes have been able to secure their slots for the main event in Asian Games for four game titles (PES, Clash Royale, Hearthstone and Arena of Valor). They will go to Jakarta as part of the Indian Contingent subject to Indian Olympic Association approval (IOC).

As for the esport athletes for Pro Evolution Soccer(PES)we have Navaneetha Anand and Ankur Diwakar who were undefeated against the Teams from Maldives and Sri Lanka. For HearthStone we have Tirth Mehta, who played against the Teams from Sri Lanka and Pakistan and emerged clear winners. He remained undefeated for the south Asian qualifier. Finally for Clash Royale we have Karan Manganani, who won against Teams from Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Q: What exactly are esports? Are these video games or play station games?

A: Esports (also known as electronic sports) are a form of competition using video games. Most commonly, esports take the form of organised, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players. The most common video game genres associated with esports are the real-time strategy (RTS), first-person shooter (FPS), fighting, and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). These are organised online and offline.

Esports have garnered a lot of interest worldwide, and the worldwide audience for esports is more than 400 million.  The finals of League of Legends World Championship-2017 was watched live by around 46 million fans across the world. Last year’s prize pool for World Championship of DOTA2 (MOBA Video Game) was $25 million and the winning team of 5 esports athlete took home $2 million each.


CR-Karan Manganani

Q: Is this online gambling?

A: We are talking about games like FIFA, Clash Royale, Tekken, League of Legends, DOTA2, CSGO these are largely video games where you have to play as a team against another team of athletes (online or offline), improve your team coordination, work on your leadership qualities, strategise and master the game and not to forget keep yourself fit and healthy so as to be able to respond in milliseconds to make a move (Some pro gamers make 10 moves per second). These video games are purely skill based.

Please note not every video game is an esports game and esports are device agnostic. You have games like Clash Royale, Arena of Valor which you can play on your Smartphone, then you have games like FIFA, Call of Duty, Overwatch which are available on both console and PC, games like DOTA2, League of Legends are available only for PCs.

Q: Tell us the India story of esports. Does India actually have a market for the same? 

A: Esports is not new to India, it’s popular but not mainstream. Yet, every college fest is incomplete without a gaming championship. India has the highest number of youth population and second highest penetration of smart phones. Internet infrastructure and speeds are getting better day by day and are becoming affordable too. All our nation’s initiatives are towards digital India, esports in India is at its inflection point.

As per KPMG Google report India has around 120 million online gamers with a revenue of around $290 million and by 2021 this number will become 310 million and revenue of $1 billion, these are not esports numbers but they give you a perspective of the potential which India has.

Q: Generally, parents don’t approve of children playing video games...will the perception change with esports being a part of Asian Games?

A: Currently, playing video games is not encouraged in India. I always quote the example of Cricket, when we were growing up cricket had the same kind of problem, but today we as parents encourage our kids to play cricket, for a simple reason that Cricket is a viable career option today. Esports are also a viable career option today; you can be a caster/commentator, analyst, pro gamer, streamer, content creator, esports journalist, cosplayer, an esports host, esports event organizer, esports lawyer, coach, team manager etc,

It’s the question of awareness and inclusion of esports in Asian Games is a big boost. There are universities worldwide who have started giving esports scholarships like Robert Morris; existing FIFA, NBA clubs have already started having their own esports teams like PSG, Manchester City.

Q: Coming back to Asian Games, who is sponsoring the qualifiers?

A:  ESFI did not have any sponsors for the Indian Qualifiers, as the time limit was too short to generate the sponsorship. But AESF will cover the international travel, accommodations, and meals for athletes for the main event at Jakarta. They also covered the expenses for the Indian teams who flew to Vietnam/Hong Kong for the south Asian qualifiers for Clash Royale and League of Legends respectively.

Q: How much can an esport player earn on an average?

A: Globally, these numbers can go to millions of dollars, and on an average, you can make $200,000 through winnings, brand endorsements, streaming etc. In India we have miles to go, still, a certain set of teams are paid between Rs 15,000 and Rs 30,000 monthly as salaries plus the winnings or brand endorsements.

Q: The International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) are hosting a forum to discuss the future of esports at the Olympics---do you think esports will make it to Tokyo 2020?

A: An esports event was organized last year during winter Olympics, which was a big success. IOC on October 28, 2017, had said esports are showing strong growth and can provide a platform for engagement with the Olympic movement. Competitive esports could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players' involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports.

Q: What are we doing in India to popularise it as a population sport?

A: In India we have ESFI, we do regular tournament and qualifiers to give an opportunity to Indian esports athletes to compete at the international level, our athletes regularly participate in the World Esports Championship organised by International Esports Federation (IESF). ESFI is the full member of IESF and Asian Esports Federation (AESF).

AESF is also planning to do the Asian Cup. ESFI does not have any government support as of now. We have been participating in various forums (Times Global Sports Show, SportexAsia, IMAI etc) to create awareness. It was because of the ESFI's efforts that Indian esports athletes are able to be part of the Asian Games. We are also working on a program to enhance the skill set of the Indian Esports athletes.

On the other side, we have a lot of private players who have been doing esports tournaments with decent prize money. There are startups around esports, some creating content others developing online esports tournament platform etc.

Source : https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/sports-trends/indian-esports-athletes-qualify-for-asian-games-2665181.html

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