Editor’s Pick: Should Indian athletes start investing in E-sports?

With the growing trend in the west of celebrities and athletes investing in e-sports, Indian sportsmen could also have a similar impact on India’s gaming circuit.

The pandemic turned out to be a curse for sporting events across the world. Most games were shut, while the resumption of sports after the lockdown has been without spectators. For e-sports, lockdown came as a blessing in disguise. The gaming tournaments could be hosted during the lockdown, making it a much popular event when all other sports had been silenced by the virus.

E-sports did get more recognition during the lockdown as it was the only live sports available at that time. However, the gaming industry has been growing at a rapid rate in the past few years. The e-sports industry is expected to more than double the outlay of 2018 ($776.4 million) by 2023. The same report has projected that the total revenue of the industry is likely to be $950.3 million by the end of 2020.

Such eye-watering numbers have attracted brands to start investing in gaming events and teams. In the past couple of years, celebrities and athletes have also started investing in the e-sports industry.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero launched KRU Esports in October. The organisation is set to be based in Barcelona and Argentina. Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs also has his own FIFA team, while football clubs have also started investing in esports by signing players that will represent them in various tournaments. Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has invested in esports, similarly, UEFA has also started holding a bigger tournament from 2019.

Considering the predicted growth of revenue, the time is right for footballers and clubs to invest in the esports industry. By the time pandemic eases and vaccine comes into the picture, esports will have much higher evaluation than it was before.

The gamers in the west are likely to benefit from the investment from celebrities and athletes. Similarly, the gaming circuit in India could also benefit from the influx of money from brands and celebrities. Brands such as Airtel have been organizing events with gaming companies in the past. There are likely to be more organizations in the future that will consider gaming events an ideal platform to get visibility. However, this is unlikely to benefit e-sports teams in the long run.

Virat Kohli invested in ISL by becoming a joint owner of FC Goa. The Indian cricket star’s interest in football and improved quality of the league over the years has helped football to get out of the shadow of cricket. Similarly, investment from athletes in India will also help in raising the bar of gaming and create awareness of esports as a career option since internet is slowly becoming a necessity across the country.

According to The Bridge, India currently ranks 17 in global esports industry. Since India is second most populated country in the world, the viewership for esports should be reaching record levels in the world. The increased involvement of gaming companies in esports tournament across the country, clearly shows that the gaming industry in India should be in its peak by the end of this decade.

Moreover, the improved quality of gamers will help India to get better accolades at the international level. The investment from athletes is not only a lucrative option from an investor’s point of view, but it also helps in improving an industry that is looked down on in the country.

India is unlikely to contribute to a big chunk of the revenue earned by esports in 2023, but there is a lot of untapped potential in the Indian market that could become gold dust after a few years. Athletes and Sports Athletes could hit a jackpot by strategic investing in esports teams now.

By Kiran Thakare

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