Although, India is a Cricket centric nation and will remain so in the coming years, but if there is any prominent sport after cricket in India, then it is football.
Yes, you heard it right, football has been played prominently as a major sport in India for a long time. In India, I am sure there is no one who has never played football, most of us had played this outdoor sport in our childhood as the parents of all of us either provided us with a Cricket bat or a football to play with.
In today's world, e-sports is one of the fastest-growing industries. With the rise in smartphone and internet usage, an increasing number of people (mainly teenagers) are turning to e-sport as a full-time career. E-sports is a growing industry that attracts people from all walks of life and allows them to make money, get popularity, and represent their country on a global stage.
Football has a huge fan following and loving base in every corner of India. And so when eSports was introduced, the Indians became very interested in it and it became a success soon. Those who were really igaming fanatics, playing games on the computer for hours and having the mindset of winning every mission as it is a real-world sport, however, it's a virtual gaming world, came forward to try themselves and make their career in the eSports industry.
FIFA, the game created by Electronic Arts (EA), has been around for a few decades and enjoys a massive fan base, and has been more popular at the tournament over the last few years as being more competitive. This is due to the fact that the game is console-based, making it unique to a select few as opposed to the rest of the games, which are typically played on a mobile phone or computer.
The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the world football governing body, launched the online gaming championship in 2019. Following India's entry earlier this year, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) held national qualifiers in March to find promising eSports players to represent India. Charanjot Singh, 18, and Siddh Chandrana, 20, these two were among those who succeeded.
Charanjot Singh, who is 18 years old and was ranked eighth in the FIFAe rankings, is currently the highest-ranked Indian in the West Asia region, followed by Scyteskrusher and Saksham, who are 24 and 28 years old, respectively.
FIFA is a flagship product of EA Sports that has been released every year since 1995 and is one of the most popular games in the world. It offers genuine football teams and players, with ratings that are updated on a regular basis.
At the AIFF eFootball Challenge, top Indian FIFA gamers competed. The e-players have played FIFA 21, developed by (Electronic Arts) EA Sports. The only console which was allowed for the eSports tournament was playStation. The best FIFA gamers from India had competed at the first-ever All India Football Federation (AIFF) eFootball Challenge earlier this year.
“If you look at console gaming, FIFA is really popular. Unfortunately, because of the commercial arrangement between EA and FIFA, a lot of things are restricted and it remains an underdog. For any video game to become popular, there has to be a lot of flexibility to play around with it for the ecosystem partners, whether they are streamers, marketing guys, or brands,” Lokesh Suji, director, Esports Federation of India (ESFI) told Livemint.com.
“Sports simulation games like FIFA have the potential to target a younger audience. For instance, schools and parents will be more receptive to these kinds of games as compared to first-person shooter games. But growth is hampered because of the restrictions in place,” he adds.
India's top-notch FIFA eSports gamer, Siddh Chandrana spoke with JustGamblers exclusively
“I started playing FIFAe casually back in 2007 and got into competitive FIFAe almost after a decade that is in 2017. I signed my first ever professional contract with M10esports in 2018.
I am currently based in Mumbai, and I play for Futbolist sports, a Multi-gaming organisation from Turkey. I am one of the four E-players to play for the Indian National eFootball team,” said Chandrana.
“FIFAe has not been the mainstream in Indian esports and has been growing gradually over the years. This is the first season where India has gotten eligibility for the global series so I expect it to grow more in the coming seasons and be at the pinnacle of Indian sports,” he added.
According to Statista.com, in the financial year 2020, India had approximately 365 million online gamers. By the fiscal year 2022, this figure is expected to reach 510 million. Overall, with a growth rate of 165 percent between 2016 and 2018, India placed first and ranked the highest in terms of growth in online game downloads on app stores.