Investing in an Indian Esports Team - If Not PUBG, Then What?



Indian esports continues to resemble a gold-rush. If we break up esports in to major markets, The West (North America and Europe), East Asia, China, and South-East Asia have all had their respective esports booms and are now headed in to a mature phase. Latin America, led by Brazil, joined the party as well. Now, it’s India’s time to shine. Built on a foundation of Population, Youth and Mobile – India could be gaming’s promised land.


At last count, there were over 365 million gamers in India. That’s more than 1 in 3 people in a country of 1.4 billion people! India’s esports ecosystem surged on the popularity of PUBG Mobile from 2018 until the middle of the CoVid19 pandemic. Upon the PUBG ban, it seemed India’s esports ecosystem was almost wiped out; Garena’s Free Fire and Activision’s Call of Duty Mobile (CODM) rushed in to occupy this void and sustained the market to a big extent. It seems Indian gamers have a love affair with the mobile platform and the Battle Royale genre. The oft-heard phrase, “India is a PUBG ecosystem”, aptly captured this sentiment. As Free Fire and CODM continue to grow, and with the forthcoming relaunch of PUBG, team owners and investors are gearing up for an exciting 2021.


Does it then make sense to invest in a non-PUBG (or Non-Battle Royale) squad in India? Clearly, amongst a gaming population so huge, prospective team owners could identify niche pockets or early-move advantages in other games and genres to stand out and build their esports IP. As a community-first esports company, we understand the value that going niche can create for teams, owners and marketers. Let’s look at some titles that might make interesting propositions for this case.


League of Legends: Wild Rift

There are, obviously, traditional favorites. League of Legends (LOL) is a global phenomenon that has sustained its fan base for over a decade now. Often cited as the world’s largest esport, LOL does have a dedicated fan base in India as well. The niche, PC-based gaming community takes the game very seriously. [Interestingly, the game even plays an important part in the storyline of the Netflix India Original series – Mismatched].


With the lack of big successes for Indian teams on the global arena, and presumably due to the lack of viewership, the game’s publisher – Riot Games – has so far not made huge investments in the region.


To break out from the sidelines, however, Riot Games is now gearing up a mobile rendition of LOL. Titled League of Legends: Wild Rift, the game is expected to launch in India in Q2 2021. This has already started generating a lot of conversation among Indian audiences. Upon opening up registrations for its Be