Corporates set the ball rolling on investments in e-sports leagues

From e-sports leagues to poker leagues, corporates are increasingly seeing value in investing in online gaming tournaments. Companies who have invested in such entities say a young demographic attuned to online will help it grow from a niche venture to a booming business over the next couple of years. Last week, Nazara Games invested close to ₹136 crore to create and develop infrastructure for e-sports leagues in India.

E-sports is a competitive tournaments of video games, especially among professional gamers, and turns online gaming into a spectator sport, mimicking the experience of watching a professional sporting event Manish Agarwal, CEO, Nazara Games, said: “Instead of watching a physical event, spectators watch video gamers compete against each other.” He said the company is looking to organise two seasons for the online event.

The league will provide Indian e-sports fans with live webTV content, guides, forums, online tournaments, and extensive and professional coverage of the e-sports scene. Recently, Ronnie Screwvala had announced the launch of UCypher, a major e-sports league. It is expected to be launched in March, followed by a linear television broadcast in May. Sources said Screwvala has reportedly invested close to ₹80 crore to popularise the venture. The Indian Gaming League has also launched its own league which is both online and offline.

The other unique league which is gaining prominence is Poker Sports League — with investments from Dabur scion Amit Burman and online poker website PSL will see 12 teams, with nine players each, fighting for a prize money of ₹3.36 crore. Amin Rozani, co-founder and MD, The Spartan Poker, who has been in the business for the past two years said that there has been a 3-4-fold rise in the number of players opting for poker online. Recently, eGamers Arena partnered with World Cyber Arena (WCA), one of the largest gaming championships worldwide, to host the national qualifiers in India. The prize money for the winner of this tourney will be a whopping $28 million. As per various estimates, e-sports entertain a young and desirable demographic. Its viewership reached 246 million in 2016. According to reports, the global e-sports industry is expected to grow from $493 million in 2016 to $1.1 billion in 2019.