Asian Games medallist hopeful of promising future for Esports

At a time when social distancing has become the norm, Esports has managed to pierce the mainstream consciousness as more and more people in India indulge in competitive video gaming.

File image of an individual wearing a PlayStation VR headset and playing a video game.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The Esports industry is thriving in India with the disruption caused by the coronavirus and the country’s lone Asian Games medallist in competitive video gaming, Tirth Mehta, is optimistic the upward trend will continue in the times to come.

The coronavirus outbreak has massively affected the global sporting calendar, with stadiums that once lit up with the roar of the crowd lying in silence.

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At a time when social distancing has become the norm, Esports has managed to pierce the mainstream consciousness as more and more people in India indulge in competitive video gaming.

Tirth, who won the bronze medal in Hearthstone -- a popular online digital collectible card game -- at the Esports demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games, feels the pandemic has helped the Esports industry expand its reach.

“The coronavirus has had a positive effect on the Esports industry,” Tirth told PTI from Hyderabad, where he works in an Esports start-up.

“The general numbers are going up everyday. There’s a huge surge in participation in tournaments, viewership has also increased,” he added.

The number of Esports tournaments has also increased in the country as organisers try to capitalise on the changing times.

Around the world, sports icons like 19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, world champion Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel and Argentina’s star footballer Sergio Aguero, also couldn’t resist the charm of Esports and picked up the gaming console.

Esports also made its way to television as broadcasters tried to provide audiences with live action in the absence of traditional sports.

“Esports is also being telecast on the sports channels so it has definitely piqued the interest of the people,” Tirth said.

The 25-year-old is optimistic that the surge in numbers will motivate potential stakeholders to invest.

“I assume the players, and hopefully, the sports channels will realise there is an actual audience for this and this number continue increasing even after the situation is back to normal.”

“I think it will continue to grow. Obviously, it will not see the same spike but it will continue going upwards,” he added.

Some of the popular Esports games in India include PUBG, Counter Strike, Dota 2, Hearthstone and Star Craft: Brood War.

Atin Suri, Founder of Esports Experiential, a platform that uses experiential marketing to encourage Esports for young Indian consumers, is also confident of the industry’s success in the country.

“There is no doubt that the future of Esports in our country is very bright. With half of the country’s population being under the age of 25, India is one of the largest markets with great potential for Esports in the coming times,” Suri said.

According to Suri, Esports is not confined to entertainment anymore as it has become a refuge for the urban youth over the years.

“Esports is a highly engaging activity and enthusiasts do find time to participate regularly.

“Esports is not only a platform that provides entertainment to people it is now a stress buster for the urban youth and a career opportunity for many enthusiasts.

“With the number of fans increasing every day, the industry is bound to grow much more in the coming times,” he said.

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