I have been an athlete for life, more passionate about team sports than solo. I was an avid footballer and represented my school and college in multiple competitions. My exposure to online games was very early during my 8th/9th standard.
Because of my passion for sports, and exposure to the international sporting ecosystem I could sense the changing trends in sports earl, how virtual games were emerging as a new source of entertainment. It was a magnet attracting the young population towards online games. India was following these footprints.
This was early 2016 when we had just started calling online games 'esports'. With 4G becoming omnipresent, esports had started to become more pervasive.
I can visualize the early opportunity to bring in some structure to follow online games as a profession. It was a question of getting an equally passionate bunch of players to make a team and participate in tournaments.
I started playing with my café level friends, set a practice routine, and donned multiple hats of being a player, coach, and team manager to help the team participate and win tournaments at local, city, and state levels.
I continued my journey as a semi-pro player for a few years and eventually realized that I was better equipped to identify players' potential early, groom them to be important pillars of a team, the permutations that can make a winning team, game strategies, etc.
I retired from active playing and that led to the genesis of Reckoning Esports. In 2016, Reckoning Esports’ first professional team for DOTA2 (Defence of the Ancients 2), started as a group of friends in a gaming café competing in multiple tournaments.
Those were the days when, the Indian esports scene, especially DotA 2, was reigned by just a few players and teams and no other team could break into the den. It was quite boring to see the same winners and lacked all the action.
It was not because the contestants lacked skills, or hard work but simply the discipline to grind and strategic direction. The ecosystem conducive to grooming players into professional esports athletes was nonexistent.
I leveraged my experience and gaming skills to bring the much-needed structure into the Indian esports industry.
With the structure in place and relentless efforts for more than 2 years, in 2018 our team, Reckoning Esports - DOTA2 team succeeded in destabilizing the top-ranked teams, a team ranked 150th in 2016 and became 2nd best in 2018.
This stirring brought in new lease of excitement and action into Indian esports. It was the moment of ‘Reckoning’, not only for our team but for the entire Indian esports ecosystem.
We have differentiated ourselves from the competition in an approach to building the business. Our Talent Scouting Program is the major differentiator. We have a unique approach to talent scouting and professional guidance.
We believe in providing opportunities to unearth talent rather than getting star players on board. The program covers not only India but also more mature esports countries. In our journey of 7 years, we have selected players from countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Russia.
We support athletes with international coaches and analysts. We have been following this strategy from the early days and it has helped our Indian athletes to benefit from the exchange of knowledge from more experienced international counterparts. Secondly, we have always believed in diversification across PC and mobile games.
This helped us stay in business when the most popular mobile game was under ban Last but not least, esports is all about sports entertainment, and building wider, engaging communities from the grassroots is crucial. Getting sponsorship pounds to esports is also essential like any other traditional sports.
We are proud to mention that apart from getting endemic brands like Cougar sponsors who were looking to enter the Indian market, we also introduced national brands like Tata Motors to Indian esports through experiential events. Do visit our social media channels and you will realize that our content is unique too.
3. What are your plans?
Being a leading Indian Team and Talent Management brand, we feel we must implement our strategic approach to more countries, starting with neighboring countries having more younger population. We will expand our footprint to the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.
Reckoning Esports will be in more geographies and more esports titles, partnering with franchisee leagues in India and Southeast Asia. To fuel our growth plans we are planning to raise USD 2mn. We have already completed a sub-round of fundraising of USD 100k, led by Lead Angels and Arthayan Advisory.
4. What is your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Find your passion, evaluate the market fit, and then acquire the right skills that will enable you to build a business. Build a strong support system from your family and friends. It's okay to fail but focus on being successful. And most importantly be a learner for life!