That may sound interesting to me, but the days when only spectators sat in front of the screens related to sports are over. Today, even as esports viewership continues to grow, real gamers are also sitting in front of screens playing esports and online games. Online skill games are a multifaceted sport gaining popularity and competition on the global gaming stage given the current proliferation of internet and mobile phones in India. And in India too. India has already won an international esports medal.
At the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, where eSports was featured as a demonstration sport (medals were won but not counted towards overall standings), Hyderabad's Tirth Mehta won the bronze medal in Hearthstone, a digital trading card game. Many others are eager to join various tournaments around the world with their phones and consoles. The upcoming 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, scheduled for September 1025, will feature eight PUBG (Playerunknown's Battlegrounds) Mobile, Dota 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2), Hearthstone, League of Legends, FIFA, Street Fighter V e-sports -Medals to win Arena of Valor and Dream of the Three Kingdoms 2 as well as two demo events AESF Robot Masters and AESF VR Sports. (Indian players can qualify for the event through Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) as the original PUBG mobile platform is banned in the country.)
For India to do its best in Hangzhou, support is needed. In tennis we have seen a growth in infrastructure, the formalization of national federations and government support which has led to the growth of the sport and consequently success. Focus solely on your performance and don't worry about managing the logistics and completing other challenges. It is time for India to invest in its esports infrastructure and make the country a hub not only for professional athletes but also for gaming providers.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics held last year, five e-sport events were featured in the (non-medal event) Olympic Virtual Series: baseball, cycling, rowing, sailing and motor sport. It won't be long till e-sports becomes an Olympic sport too. It won't be long before eSports becomes an Olympic sport as well. Esports also has tremendous potential to support additional opportunities related to game development and publishing, such as Live streaming.
Traditional sports such as chess, which recently made headlines thanks to 16-year-old Indian grandmaster Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa's fabulous win over world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen at online rapid chess tournament Airthings Masters, have benefited greatly from the new platform.
Throughout the multiple Covid lockdowns over the past two years I've been following the live streams avidly and particularly enjoyed the post-game antics where players joined the streams to give their new ratings. The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has partnered with game developer Mobile Premier League (MPL) to launch a virtual event for skeet, the shooting sport in which a clay disc is thrown from a trap to match a bird's flight to be simulated according to the regulations of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). As someone who grew up playing video games, I'm excited to get back on the tennis court virtually this time. India has all the necessary ingredients to be a hub for experienced esports players. In order for any sport to be attractive to athletes and spectators alike, it is imperative that it meets certain standards such as stamina and ability. With the majority of young adults in the country regularly interacting with their cell phones, I encourage you to use your time to develop your gaming skills and become a successful athlete around the world. Whether on the real or virtual tennis court, there is nothing valuable. Win, also on a world stage.
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