The announcement of the formation of the eSports Players Welfare Association has given a big boost to India's rapidly rising eSports movement (EPWA). EPWA is a non-profit organisation dedicatedly formed to ensure that eSports players' professional, legal, and contractual rights are fully protected in India.

eSports has a global viewership of 474 million people and is the fastest growing sport in the world. At the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, eSports will be a medal event. 

eSports becomes a feasible career option for young people

According to latest EY estimates, India currently has over 60,000 esports teams and 1,50,000 participants. As esports becomes a feasible career option for young people, the number of participants is predicted to expand at a 78 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to 1.5 million by 2025, with 250,000 teams.

Enhanced prize money, more games, localization, regional adaptation, and the expansion of smartphone, laptop, and broadband infrastructure will all contribute to the growth.

The eSports Players Welfare Association (EPWA) aims to be the governing organisation

The eSports Players Welfare Association (EPWA) target's to be the governing organisation for eSports athletes in India. EPWA would be the first organisation of its kind in India to provide support to the eSports interested athletes. Amar Ratnam, a former professional gamer, has been appointed as the player-industry liaison.

Ritesh Nath, the CEO & Founder of EPWA stated, "The future of eSports in India is bright, especially due to the penetration of 4G and the subsequent surge in mobile gaming. Professional governance and structures are vital to the success of any sport; the absence of either in the eSports industry in India is one of the key drivers that led to the formation of eSports Players Welfare Association (EPWA). With the exponential increase in the number of eSports players (amateur and professional) and avenues for them to earn a living, EPWA will strive to ensure their rights are protected by defining industry norms, setting regulations, and assisting relevant stakeholders to form policies." 

“Our aim is to educate players about their rights. An EPWA member will get services such as vetting of contracts before they sign or at the time of renewal with team owners or esports tournament organisers. Legal advice will be provided in case of issues such as non-payment of dues. We will also offer brand sponsorship advice where we won’t get involved with the commercials but will help players on validity and construct certain clauses in their contracts," added Nath.

Nath is a self-employed sports consultant with over a decade of experience in leadership roles in a variety of sports organisations. He has worked on commercial partnerships and sponsorships for athletes including Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Sunil Chhetri, as well as sports leagues like the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pro Kabbadi League (PKL), and Indian Super League (ISL). He's also done work for Nielsen Sports India.

"eSports has been in the limelight lately with attention being drawn to it thanks to its inclusion as a medal event at the upcoming Asian Games in 2022 and potentially an Olympic nod as well. As wide as the gaming industry may be, absence of any regulations or stringent rules in eSports allows for exploitation of players. The top priority at EPWA will be to address player grievances regarding their legal obligations and contracts. EPWA will also work to bridge the awareness gap that exists in the country by educating the industry about the latest eSports rules and regulations from India and around the globe,” Shivani Jha, Director mentioned. 

EPWA strives to help enrolled eSports players, the most important part of the entire eSports ecosystem, with the following services, which are founded on the values of justice, equality, transparency, and accountability.

Professional and amateur eSports athletes are both bound by contracts with their teams, sponsors, and tournaments, which are frequently biassed. EPWA proposes to provide sound legal advice with the goal of protecting the interests of those involved in eSports.

Contracts: Because contracts are the foundation of every relationship, EPWA suggests that team contracts, tournament contracts, and sponsorships/endorsements be reviewed and flagged for any problems.

Career Suggestion: For the most part, navigating an eSports career can be difficult. EPWA assists in defining eSports professions and providing resources to help them reach their objectives.

Dispute Resolution: If a player is confronted with a difficult scenario involving their contractual duties, EPWA tries to help them find a solution on their own or with the help of third-party legal counsel.

Community Building: EPWA aspires to create a network of eSports players from all over India who can share ideas, communicate, and act as a single voice for eSports players in the country.

EPWA is a membership-based organisation. 

A player or streamer must register on the website to become a member, after which they will have access to the services listed above, as well as many others.