Since its modest beginnings in the 1950s, when basic games and simulations were played on minicomputers and mainframes, the video game industry has undergone tremendous growth. Today, the Indian Esports industry flourishes as a multi-billion-dollar sector, thanks to advancements in high-speed internet, improved technology, the increasing popularity of gaming among the younger generation, and official recognition as a multi-sport event from the government of India.
According to the recent “Windows of Opportunity” report on India’s Media and Entertainment industry by FICCI-EY, the number of Esports players across all competitive level games in India increased from 600,000 in 2021 to 1 million in 2022, and is expected to reach 2.5 million in 2023.
From winning the bronze in Hearthstone at the 2018 Asian Games to clinching bronze in DOTA 2 at the inaugural Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year, the prowess of Indian Esports has been highlighted multiple times in major international tournaments.
Now, India is not only sending its first-ever female contingent in CS:GO at the World Esports Championships but is also set to participate in the upcoming Asian Games 2022 where Esports is debuting as an official medal sport. As per the FICCI-EY report, the number of international Esports teams in India grew from 6 in 2021 to 7 in 2022 and is expected to rise to 10 in 2023.
Mr. Lokesh Suji, Director of Esports Federation of India (ESFI) & Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF) is confident that by supporting and nurturing the Esports ecosystem, India will continue to make its mark on the global Esports stage. “What started with competitive gaming that was only visible in college fests or local tournaments in the late 2000s is now a Rs 250-crore industry. While we have witnessed significant growth and improvement in recent years, winning medals at prestigious events has demonstrated our potential to compete at the highest level and is a testament to the rise of India as a video-gaming powerhouse,” he says.
The rise of gamers and gaming content creators in the country has transformed the entertainment landscape. Many gamers have built large fan bases and have become influential figures within the gaming community through live streaming, video content creation, and social media platforms.
Recognizing the potential of these content creators, brands have started to forge partnerships with them through brand deals and sponsorships which has not only opened up new revenue streams for creators but has also contributed to the entry of non-endemic brands in the sector. This is further supported by the findings of the FICCI-EY report, which states that the number of brands investing in Esports rose from 72 in 2021 to 80 in 2022, and it is projected to reach 100 by 2023.
Animesh Agarwal better known as Thug, Founder, and CEO of 8bit Creatives and S8ul esports says, “In recent years, the perception of gaming has undergone a remarkable shift, with individuals and brands both recognizing its immense potential as a lucrative revenue stream. At 8Bit Creatives, our creators have successfully curated numerous campaigns with brands from diverse sectors. This allows me to assert that both endemic and non-endemic brands are actively seeking ways to engage with gamers today.“
The recent return of the game as Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) has revitalized the Esports community and is expected to accelerate the growth of competitive gaming. According to the estimates from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the game clocked about $33 million in in-app spending from July 2021 to July 2022 and also made history by becoming the first Esports event to be broadcasted on mainstream television (Star Sports).
ParvSingh aka soul_regaltos is a professional gamer as well as gaming content creator with over 2.3 million subscribers on YouTube. Speaking on the importance of BGMI he says, “BGMI has played a pivotal role in contributing to the rise of in-game spending within the Indian gaming community. By also causing an upsurge of Esports tournaments in the country, the game has attracted brands through numerous lucrative mediums such as in-game advertisement, sponsorships, and content creation opportunities. It has single-handedly elevated the competitive landscape, giving emerging players the opportunity to showcase their skill and become stars within the community.”
The evolution of Esports in India has been further accelerated by the emergence of new technology and platforms catering specifically to the gaming community. New-age technology such as Web3, AR and VR, gesture-controlled gaming as well as exclusive gamers’ social network platforms are all enabling a technological revolution to radically transform the Esports industry in India.
Qlan, an exclusive social networking app designed for gamers and esports enthusiasts, recently secured pre-seed funding to fuel its expansion and enhance gamer networking, discovery, and content creation capabilities. Sagar Nair, Co-founder, and CEO of Qlan commented, “The burgeoning global Esports industry is witnessing an influx of technologies poised to revolutionize the sector. Our own app QLAN has successfully been able to elevate gamers’ social networking to new horizons and empower the ever-expanding community of gamers. We firmly believe that India will adopt further next-gen tech in video gaming to not only relish its immersive experience but to change how gaming is perceived in the coming years, allowing the industry to scale bigger heights.”
All in all, the video game industry in India has experienced remarkable growth, diversification, and recognition. It has become a significant cultural and economic force, offering entertainment, job opportunities, and a platform for creative expression.
TUNDRA’S NEW ‘TEAMMATE’ UNVEILED
Ballantine’s, the world’s second largest Scotch whisky has teamed up with defending champions Tundra Esports as their Official Spirit Partner for The Dota 2 International 2023, which will be the first ever esports team sponsorship for Ballantine’s. The partnership will see Ballantine’s make its debut on Tundra’s new The International official jersey, which goes on sale on 6th October 2023, which will celebrate those that live the ‘Stay True’ lifestyle, subvert expectations, and do things their own way.
Tundra’s Esports Dota 2 team are the reigning World champions, winning The International in 2022, beating the opposing team in a clean 3-0 sweep. The team has gone on to keep their crown as the DPC WEU Tour 3 top team, and they are one of the clear favourites going into the next Dota 2 The International 2023, which kick offs on 12th October and ends October 29th.
Ballantine’s is a long time champion of self-expression and has a storied history of celebrating people who live life with an independent spirit and have the self-confidence to stay true to themselves, even when faced with challenge, expectation & judgement. It was Tundra’s unwavering commitment to this ‘Stay True’ vision within their unique playstyle that led them, against all expectations, to be the crowning champions of Dota 2 The International 2022 and a perfect partner for Ballantine’s.
The partnership is the latest move by Ballantine’s in the esport space following their partnership earlier this year with BLAST.tv for the 10 year anniversary of CS:GO Majors in Paris. Together, Tundra Esports and Ballantine’s will be launching a series of bespoke behind the scenes content that gets up close and personal with the players.
Afterwork Drinks sees Head Coach Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling speak on his work day and share his experiences with Ballantine’s. TI Dream Team where the Tundra Team, composed of Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu, Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen, Oliver “Skiter” Lepko, Neta “33” Shapira and Leon “nine” Kirlin will put together a roster of their favourites players giving insight into their picks, plus some words of wisdom Sip of Knowledge for any gamers hoping to go pro in turning their passion into their profession. Alongside this, as part of the partnership, Ballantine’s logo will also be featured on Tundra’s new The International jersey, as well as across Tundra’s social channels, and will also be featured within the Dota 2 in-game team’s flag and banners.
Carleton Curtis, Chief Executive Officer of Tundra Esports, said: “We are honoured to be the first esports team in history sponsored by Ballantine’s the Official Spirit Partner of our Dota 2 roster for the International 2023. This is a brilliant opportunity for us to work together in creating exciting new content and bring fans together around the world.”
Team Vitality and Lille Olympique Sporting Club Renew Their Partnership
Leading global esports organisation Team Vitality and Ligue 1 club Lille Olympique Sporting Club (LOSC), the 2021 French football champion and founding club of the eLigue 1 Uber Eats, announced the renewal of their partnership for the 2024 season. This renewed partnership solidifies the club’s commitment to excellence in competition and has brought together a formidable duo that will perform on the French EA SPORTS FC 24 scene. The two French clubs have joined forces for a second consecutive year to compete in French EA SPORTS FC esports.
Team Vitality and LOSC eSports introduced Ilian Bouchi as its newest recruit to the EA SPORTS FC 24 team. Coming from the north of France, Ilian is a die-hard football fan who discovered his talent for FIFA games with his family as a child, before being scouted for his potential soon after his first competitions.
Known for his exceptional mechanics, Ilian quickly ranked amongst the top players in Europe. He will focus his talents on achieving the clubs’ goals of dominating the eLigue 1 Uber Eats and taking the scene by storm. His arrival reflects the commitment of Team Vitality and LOSC eSports commitment to recruiting top young talent and remaining at the forefront of competition.
Ilian Bouchi said: “I am honoured to join a team as prestigious as Team Vitality and LOSC eSports. It’s a privilege to play alongside Rocky, having followed his career when I was younger and seen them evolve as a player. As a LOSC supporter myself, I’m really looking forward to representing the club for this upcoming season. I will do my best to take the team as far as possible.”
Team Vitality appointed Johann Simon, better known as “Maniika”, as coach of the team. The ex-professional player has over a decade of experience in FIFA games and has participated in several World Cups with several titles to his name including, eLigue 1 Champion (2017) and Dreamhack Champion (2016). This season will be the beginning of his new path into coaching. Finally, Olivier “NephaleM” Morizet takes on the role of Team Manager to support the team throughout the year.
Johann “ManiiKa” Simon said: “I am delighted to start this new adventure, particularly for a huge organisation like Team Vitality and a club like LOSC! I can’t wait to work with the team and help them conquer eLigue1.”
Just like last year, the two clubs are keen to stand out during eLigue 1 Uber Eats with the ultimate goal of winning the league and qualifying for the FIFAe World Cup.
The team will continue to wear the Team Vitality x LOSC mixed jersey with the colours of red and white which stands as a symbol of the collaboration. The team will also continue to train at Team Vitality’s V.Performance bootcamp, in the famous Stade de France. They will also have access to the prestigious Domaine de Luchin training centre and headquarters of LOSC.
“Signing LOSC for a second year is an incredible opportunity for our two clubs. LOSC is a club that shares our vision of excellence in competition, whether that is in esports or traditional sports. We can’t wait for the season to begin to see this new duo evolve together,” Nicolas Maurer, CEO & Co-founder of Team Vitality, said.
“We’re delighted to renew our collaboration with Team Vitality who are one of Europe’s leading esports organisations, after a successful first year together. Team Vitality is an ambitious organisation, and so is LOSC! We’re all competitors, and by combining our strengths and shared values, we look to achieve our highest goals. We welcome Ilian and Maniika who’ll join Rocky and the team. We hope they have a great season in EA Sports FC esports,” Olivier Letang, President and CEO of LOSC, said.
LEC Introduces Sporting Financial Regulations
To support the long-term financial stability and competitive balance of the LEC, the league is going to introduce new financial regulations – known as Sporting Financial Regulations (SFR) – for the start of the 2024 LoL Esports Season.
The LEC SFR will encourage teams to maintain the total sum of its five highest-paid player salaries below a certain threshold, with teams exceeding the threshold having to pay an excess fee (SFR Fee).
In doing so, the LEC seeks to create a financially sustainable environment for its pro players, partnered teams, and the league itself, allowing all parties to grow at a healthy and scalable pace, and protect the ecosystem from unsustainable spending practices. In addition, the framework will support the league by creating a better competitive balance and more engaging competition, further enhancing the experience for players and fans.
“In the current economic climate, we are dedicated more than ever to creating a sustainable future for our players, teams, and the LoL Esports ecosystem in EMEA as a whole. The LEC SFR, which will come into effect from the beginning of the 2024 Season, is one way in which we’re continuing to work towards our goal of long-term financial sustainability. By doing this, we aim to encourage teams to operate more sustainable businesses to provide job security for players and ensure we serve our fans for decades to come,” said Maximilian Peter Schmidt, Director of League of Legends Esports EMEA.
SFR will encourage each team to maintain the total sum of salaries (known as SFR Spend) paid to the top five highest-paid players in a team within a certain range. The range includes both an upper spending threshold (SFR Threshold) and a lower spending threshold (SFR Floor), with the lower spending threshold amounting to 50% of the SFR Threshold. Meanwhile, the SFR Threshold is calculated based on a number of considerations, including LEC player salaries, League Revenue Pool of the current and forecasted years, team financial data – such as revenue and expenses – and other market indicators. Teams that exceed the SFR Threshold will be imposed with an SFR Fee.
An exception will be made to teams if a player enters into a contract with the team either during or before the end of the 2023 LEC Season Finals. In this instance, the SFR Spend will be reduced by one-fifth of the SFR Threshold or the actual salary amount; whichever is lower.
The policy will be introduced starting from the 2024 LEC Global Contract Start Date (21 November 2023), with the first cycle running until the 2024 LEC Global Contract End Date (18 November 2024).
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