If there is one thing India is obsessed with, it is the sport of Cricket. The 1.4 Billion population country is fanatical about Cricket with over half a billion viewers in the country. Cricket is a sport where teams of 11 players participate in a bat and ball game with scores awarded for various objectives. The sport of Cricket is regulated by the International Cricket Council. Innumerable legends have been produced out of India. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid are global superstars that are worshipped by many Indians, lending support to Cricket being called as a religion in India.
But as times change, so do the interests. Over the past few years, mobile gaming has rapidly grown popular among the youth of the country. With an estimated 300 million gamers in India, the future looks bright for gaming. Gaming also introduced around 17 million Indians to competitive gaming known as esports. India was responsible for about $94m USD in revenue from a total of $900m USD worldwide market in 2020.
Potential of Cricket Esports in India
This deep-rooted affinity for the sport of Cricket combined with the latest craze for mobile gaming in India promises an extremely exciting prospect for esports in India.
There are already many sports with a flourishing esports ecosystem such as FIFA 21 (Football), PES (Football), Madden (American Football), NBA 2K (Basketball) and more. Tournaments are hosted across the country where players play the video game of the respective sport and compete for prize money. This genre of sports video games competition is extremely popular among the fans of the sport itself as well as esports fans in general. Hence these competitions garner a lot of viewership and is very popular. FIFA the governing body of football even conducts the annual FIFAe World Cup which can also be extended to cricket esports with its own world cup edition which is sure to turn the heads of many Indians. In 2020, a Cricket esports tournament known as Ecricket World Series was played on a video game known as Real Cricket 20 and garnered a modest amount of viewership.
Future of Cricket Esports & Betting in India
This genre is also well known to involve real money participation by the fans in terms of either fantasy league or sports betting. Cricket as a sport has been at the forefront of such ventures in India and there are some notable cricket betting sites in India. Many such sites allow people to participate with an initial sum provided by the company on registration. Cricket esports will likely allow people with similar interests to become a part of the ecosystem. Cricket esports fantasy games that involve professional esports athletes has the potential to rival traditional cricket betting culture.
Indian esports federations have started assigning national rankings for Indian esports in 2021. Esports teams and players of various games are invited to a bootcamp where after days of competition are assigned a national ranking. This indicates that esports in India is heading towards a structured and sustainable growth for the future.
With an increasing trend of online culture reaching tier 2 and tier 3 cities of many developing and developed countries, mobile gaming which is easily accessible to almost everyone with a smartphone is set to take over the gaming and esports industry. In a country such as India where more than 600 million people follow cricket and home to 300 million gamers, it is inevitable for cricket esports to eventually take over as more and more high-quality cricket video games are created. The future of Cricket esports in India is promising.