India and Pakistan have always competed with each other in almost every field. Both countries boast wonderful cricket and a hockey team.
There's a never-ending tussle for excellence whenever teams from both these countries face off against each other, no matter what the sport. But things are slightly different when it comes to esports.
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The Comparison Between Indian and Pakistani Esports
When I say esports, I don't want to demean the players from either country. Both these countries have very skilled players. However, India and Pakistan have very different approaches to the esports sector as a whole.
It’s been a long uphill battle for both these countries in terms of recognition as a country with formidable esports teams and players.
Pakistan got their first major break in 2015 when Sumail Hassan won The International, in 2015 for the team Evil Geniuses. Sumail is a Dota 2 professional and continues to play the game professionally.
Their second break came when Arslan Ash stunned the world and went on to win the EVO in USA and Japan in 2019. He further went on to be declared as the ESPN E-Player of the year.
This feat not only put the Pakistani esports communities on the map, but it also did wonders to budding gamers within the country.
India, on the other hand is yet to achieve such a feat. However, there are a lot of gamers who are recognized within the boundaries of the country itself. The saddest part is that these players receive an unrestricted exposure within the country itself, but don't receive the same level of exposure beyond the country's borders.
One of India's most popular titles is PUBG Mobile, with the battle royale shooter garnering a huge playerbase within the country, but India is yet to see any player break out to international success.
Why The Relative Silence?
Moreover, Indian gamers don’t have a very good image in the international circuit. It all started after Counter Strike pro Nikhil “Forsaken” Kumawat, who was a part of the Optic India roster was caught in a cheating scandal.
He was caught running scripts in a LAN tournament in what could have been a huge break for India in esports representation. Instead, it set the country's chances of being recognised back.
Moving forward from that, India still had a chance at making a name in the esports arena, but then fresh controversy marred the circuit yet again.
Valorant pro Abhay "Xhade" Urkude was banned for using third party applications while playing at a tournament.
Prior to Forsaken’s incident, many gaming organizations like Fnatic and Team Liquid were showing interest in the region. However, one cheating scandal was enough for them to look away.
While this is one part of the story, another part of the story rests upon the governments of the two neighbouring nations. Pakistan’s government has recently extended their support towards the gamers of the country.
In a recent tweet, the government spoke about upcoming opportunities for Pakistani gamers. That’s the kind of support that’s required to promote esports in any country. India on the other hand, fails to recognize esports as a legitimate sport.
Yes, we have the Esports Federation of India and the organization is trying really hard to work on the esports infrastructure within the country.
However, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi tweeted that games were the cause of violence. This comes as nothing but discouragement, especially for the Indian esports community.
Moreover, some Indian players did qualify internationally. And despite that, they were denied a visa. All these factors contribute to the lack of an Indian presence on the global esports map.
Personally, I don’t feel India needs to learn anything from Pakistan. With a solid infrastructure and a diverse player base, there's plenty of positivity - despite the government's best efforts.
The problem with the Indian esports circuit lies with the players themselves. While most players work really hard to establish themselves, there are a few who keep trying to look for an easy win - something that hurts the community in multiple ways, with ripples felt throughout the industry.
Truth be told, as a gamer and an esports journalist, it’s quite depressing to see the state of esports in our country. I just hope the situation improves in the near future.
We Indians have always excelled at sports, no matter what the game. All we need is a little bit of appreciation and a little bit of recognition.