When international events accept esports there’ll be no stopping it
'Who knows with our initiatives we can unearth a Neeraj Chopra or Abhinav Bindra in esports for our country'
Gaming has become one of the fastest growing industries in India with a growth rate of 40% in 2019-20. Mobile gaming in India is a US$2.2 billion market, expected to touch US$7 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 40%. This has put India among the top five mobile gaming markets in the world.
This kind of popularity rakes in money, something that can’t be ignored. Even the Union Budget this year had some love for the esports sector.
February has been an eventful month for esports in India.
Esports a Pilot Event at Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022
In a recent development Global Esports Federation and Commonwealth Games Federation announced that Esports will be included as a pilot event at Commonwealth Games, Birmingham 2022.
It will take place at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham on August 6-7, 2022. The Commonwealth Esports Championships will have separate branding, medals, organisation, and governance, led by the GEF and its community of partners. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is hoping that esports could become a medal event by 2026.
Growth and potential of esports is overwhelming and you will have to get involved, sooner the better
Lokesh Suji, Director, Esports Federation of India and VP Asian Esports Federation (AESF), said, “Growth and potential of esports is overwhelming and you will have to get involved, sooner the better. Just like Olympics, “esports” is one of the recommendations outlined in the new Commonwealth Sport 2026/30 Strategic Roadmap.
“Commonwealth Games is another big sporting event in line with Asian Games, it’s reassuring to see that Commonwealth has also openly decided to engage with esports (with this side event) and soon esports will be a medal sport in CW games too.”
Esports Debut as a Medal Event at Asian Games in Hangzhou, China
Esports is also set to make its debut as a medal event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China to be held from September 10 to 25.
In another development, with the intent of taking stock of the preparations and planning of non-Olympic sports federations participating at the upcoming Asian Games, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President, Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra called upon and met the officials of 9 sports federations, including Esports Federation of India (ESFI) at the Olympic Bhawan, on 14th February 2022.
Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) is recognized by the Olympic Council of Asia as the sole governing body for Esports in the Asian continent. It is also in charge of technical conduct for Esports at the 2022 Asian Games. ESFI, which is a recognized member of the Asian body in India and has been sending esports teams since 2007 to Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games and in the last Asian Games 2018 as well where India got Bronze Medal in the esports title HearthStone as Esports was a demonstration event.
We take this opportunity to further request the esports community to carry on with their training and get used to the challenges for making into the team to represent in this mega event
The meeting was co-chaired by Chef de Mission, Mr. Bhupender Singh Bajwa and detailed discussions were held regarding training camps and various expenditures that are required.
During the meeting, IOA stressed on the need for a fair and transparent selection process of players and athletes. The last date for the submission of the Indian Team entries by name is April 15, 2022.
“ESFI is committed to the development of esports and bringing together the esports fraternity to unlock the full potential of our athletes and provide them with enough international opportunities to compete with their counterparts at an equal level. We take this opportunity to further request the esports community to carry on with their training and get used to the challenges for making into the team to represent in this mega event.” pledges Vinod Kumar Tiwari, President of Esports Federation of India.
The 2022 edition of the Asian Games will see medals being awarded in eight categories of Esports, which are EA SPORTS FIFA branded soccer games, an Asian Games version of PUBG Mobile and Arena of Valor, Dota 2, League of Legends, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, Hearthstone and Street Fighter V.
ESFI again appeals to the probable qualifying gamers/players to get their passports ready and to get fully vaccinated.
Besides ESFI, other eight non-Olympic sports federations which were present at the meeting were Bridge, Chess, Ju-Jitshu, Kurash, Sepaktakraw, Sports Climbing, Soft Tennis and Softball.
Big-Screen Video Gaming Experience in Cinemas
India’s leading multiplex chain, INOX Leisure Ltd (INOX) and Esports Federation of India (ESFI) entered a partnership that will witness INOX providing a never-seen-before community viewing experience of Esports tournaments, that too on the big screens, for the fans, and provide required exposure to take the game to next level across the country.
As exclusive Cinema Partner, INOX will host and promote ESFI tournaments across the country, which should help in building awareness and popularizing esports, besides offering world class cinemas as esports and video gaming venues in cities all over India.
INOX has been intrinsically supporting Indian sports through various collaborations, with the most notable being with their longstanding partnership with Indian Olympic Association. Now, with a goal to revolutionize Esports landscape in India, INOX and ESFI together aim to take esports to the masses using INOX cinemas as venues for hosting esports tournaments, streaming of live tournaments, provide training opportunities and offer a talent scouting platform for future global events. More importantly, the partnership would introduce esports enthusiasts to the thrill of a live stadium amidst cheers and applause, while they compete in esports events professionally.
Commenting on this association, Alok Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, INOX Leisure Limited, said, “We are thrilled to bring the action of esports to the cinemas of INOX in collaboration with Esports Federation of India who has been working relentlessly to grow Indian esports and together, make esports, a mainstream sporting activity in India.
With esports gaining global significance, there cannot be a better time for us to fulfil this responsibility. With this association, we will build more esports IPs and who knows with our initiatives we can unearth a Neeraj Chopra or Abhinav Bindra in esports for our country
“Our cinemas are present at highly urbane and youth-centric locations servicing the entertainment needs of a predominantly young population in an unmatched ambience equipped with advanced cinema technology. We believe, this advantage, coupled with all our marketing capabilities, will help us popularize esports at a much faster pace in our country.
“With esports gaining global significance, there cannot be a better time for us to fulfil this responsibility. With this association, we will build more esports IPs and who knows with our initiatives we can unearth a Neeraj Chopra or Abhinav Bindra in esports for our country.”
Alongside Alok Tandon, Vinod Tiwari, President, Esports Federation of India & Director Olympic Council of Asia – NOC and International Relations and Lokesh Suji, Director, Esports Federation of India & Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF) were present at the event along with India’s first & only Esports medalists at the previous Asian Games 2018, Hearthstone player Tirth Mehta, who joined virtually from Bhuj.
As per the E&Y report titled Esports In India, published in June 2021, India currently has more than 1,50,000 professional esports players that has generated a viewership of 17 million people across 14 broadcast platforms, and the forecast is to have 1.5 million professional players with 85 million viewership from 20+ broadcasters by FY2025.
The association will enable INOX to engage and offer an enticing content proposition to the age bracket of 15-24 years by promoting this new age sport that has the potential to garner huge fan base and is expected to reach INR 11 billion by FY2025 as per industry data.
With growing scope for alternate content, INOX has been one of the pioneers in movie business to propagate the screening of sporting content, major ones being the ICC World Cup events of 2019 and 2021. Through this partnership, INOX and ESFI will be jointly hosting city tournaments and build various esports IPs to intensify its growth, not just at elite, but also at the grass root level. The objective will be to introduce the charm of gamers and gaming enthusiasts, across the country, to take part in online as well as in-cinema tournaments.