eSports tournaments: PC eSports tournaments in India picked up momentum after Valorant was launched last year. This easily adaptable game, that often gets tougher in the competitive league, was widely accepted and most tournaments surrounding the game, including a big one– Skyesports League 2020, piloted by Skyesports and Shiva Nandy, made 2020 a bearable year.

Breaking away from the stereotypes of handheld device esports, Skyesports’ dive into a rather unexplored territory is what makes the journey interesting. InsideSport gets in conversation with the man behind hosting one the biggest Valorant tournaments in the country– Shiva Nandy.

We talk about what it takes to organise events at such a large scale, PUBG ban, FAUG, how long does it take for an organisation to plan an event and will we see any LAN events in 2021.

Q. Sir let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room– PUBG ban and whether Skyesports will host tournaments with PUBG Mobile Kr version?

Answer. The game has been banned, and my team and I think that be in any game, if it is banned by the Government, we should not host anything on those particular game titles. But once the ban is lifted, we will be the first one to host a tournament or league, whatever it is, But until then, we are not ready for it.

This is the decision from our end, and once there is a green signal, we are good to go. The thing is, in eSports, the revenue comes from sponsors and media partners, and media rights. Even if you are doing KR scrims and all of that, the sponsors won’t be happy. Who will want to sponsor? When there is a green signal from the government, then we will do a tournament on the largest scale.

Q. Do you think PUBG will make a comeback by March, as suggested by various reports? Do you also think the halt was because they wanted to release faug first?

Answer. Definitely, 100% the game is going to make a comeback. The process is on and everything is set. The government needs to work on it and spend time on it. When their focus shifts to this game, then we will have a decision. I am very sure it will happen. It might not happen in recent times, but I am sure it will happen in a month or two. The government has a pandemic to fight, they have to focus on other things as well. When they have an agenda, they will definitely focus on this.

No, I don’t think it is being stalled because of FAUG’s release. There is no comparison between FAUG and PUBG Mobile. Both the games are different and i am definitely sure that the game play is not going to be the same as PUBG Mobile. PUBG is sort of a larger game, I am not even sure if FAUG is a multiplayer game, and it is not a battle royale format. The game could not be an eSports game. I am sure there is no relativity between PUBG Mobile and FAUG.

Q. Is it safe to say that even when there are PC games and other games, ban on PUBG Mobile has made a huge dent on what the esports scenario in the country was?

Answer. PUBG Mobile was the only game that showed what eSports was to the Indian market. It is because of PUBG Mobile that we know the word esports and it explored a lot. It is unavoidable. The ban makes sure a lot of other games are explored by a lot of people. A lot of people made a shift to PC games like Valorant, and some people started to play Clash of Clans, FreeFire and Brawl Stars. It has given a boost to the ecosystem. People will have to understand what eSports is. PUBG ban made a lot of people understand that there are other games also.

Moving from an ecosystem to a holistic environment, Shiva talks about broadcasting and how the backend works.

Q.Events that are not LAN based, how does Skyesports manage everything at the backend?

Answer. Skyesports had planned the Skyesports League 2020 a year back for PUBG Mobile. The next step was to take permission from Tencent, and we did. We are very careful about what tournament. We started planning in February last year and that went on till a long time. It was good to go. The dream was to have city vs city but covid, and pubg ban stopped it.

When we planned the city vs city concept, we wanted to do it on LAN only and we were ready to wait. So we are very cautious on that. This was a pilot project. And we thought that in that way, and came with the 2020 schedule and broadcasted it in different languages.

Q. Do you think Skyesports will go beyond 7 vernacular languages in the coming year?

Answer. We started using vernacular languages to accommodate more people. We want everyone to be a part of this ecosystem. Yes, in future, Skyesports will definitely look to incorporate more languages than what it already has.

Q. What is this city vs city concept?

Answer. The whole idea was to get on with a tournament where people could support their favourite city. We wanted people to adapt to the city vs city concept. We planned everything for online– a 25 days long tournament and we wanted people to be there on time and we wanted to create a sports like environment. How people get used to watching matches at a fixed time in cricket during a league, that is what we wanted and we eventually achieved that in the second or the third week.

Q. How did you manage to create that intense LAN like atmosphere?

Answer. We did a lot of R&D. We took a lot of help from the team and them setting up cameras and then we decided to focus on them. That is how the production quality of the semi-final and final stood out, So much so that even TSM Subroza was taken by surprise by our quality.

Q. What’s in store for 2021 and beyond?

Answer. Next year is going to be a massive one since we hear that there’s a vaccine that is going to come in Tamil Nadu in two weeks. So if that is the case, then we want to start something parallelly to IPL. IPL starts in the evening and our tournament will start in the afternoon. That is the combination we want to look at.

Final question

Q. If you do, in fact, get permission from the government to host a LAN, where do you think you will want to host it?

Answer. We are going to follow all the protocols– inside the stadium and whatever the local government sets. We might just have it in Chennai or Bengaluru

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