Left to right first row: Akshat Rathee, Anup Dustakar, Wykrhm Reddy, Gnana Shekar Reddy, Sid Joshi Left to right second row: Amar Ratnam, Sat Mayekar, Nishant Patel, Shravanth Reddy, Bharath Ravindran Image: AFP
The Indian gaming scene made rapid strides in 2017, with increasing number of tournaments, growing amount of prize money and a host of promising talent coming up. And, of course, gamers are very much at the forefront of the gaming revolution in the country. But it's not just the players wielding joysticks and keyboards on the battlefield who are fighting on the front lines to take the gaming scene into the promised land.
There is a host of individuals and ex-gamers, with unadulterated passion for gaming, working tirelessly behind the scenes to develop the industry in India, While they're pretty well-known in the industry's inner circle and are some of the most influential people in the Indian gaming scene, very few casual enthusiasts will be aware of their contribution. They vary from event organisers, team managers, social media influencers to ex-gamers who still have a role to play.
T2 Online takes a look at the Chanakyas of the Indian gaming world:
1. Akshat Rathee
Akshat Rathee is the founder and managing director of NODWIN Gaming, a venture owned by the NODWIN group of companies. Under his leadership, NODWIN Gaming partnered with the globally renowned eSports tournament organiser ESL. This led the Indian firm to take eSports to unbelievable heights in only four years, fulfilling the dreams of many gamers.
He has helped bring the global eSports phenomena to the country in the form of mega tournaments such as the ESL India Premiership, ESWC India, Intel Extreme Masters India Qualifiers, ESL One Cologne India Qualifiers and Mountain Dew Arena.
2. Anup Dustakar
Anup Dustakar is another big name from NODWIN Gaming who is widely influential in Indian eSports with a huge experience of more than eight years. Prior to NODWIN Gaming, Anup was a professional DOTA 2 gamer, playing for one of the best teams in the country, before he decided to switch roles and use his knowledge to help our eSports industry. He has organised over 100 top eSports tournaments for the country till date, while playing a key role as an eSports specialist in multiple gaming projects like the Indian Cyber Gaming Championship.
3. Wykrhm Reddy
An artist, DOTA evangelist and community ambassador, Wykrhm Reddy is almost always the first to publish international DOTA 2 updates and announcements. Not much is known about how Wyk, as he is known, ensures that no one can beat him when it comes to
sharing the best updates from DOTA 2 and the eSports world. But we do know that the artist from Hyderabad loves DOTA 2 among other eSports titles by Valve Corporation. He is insanely popular on social media with more than 500,000 likes on Facebook and 97K followers on Twitter, apart from being a moderator on Reddit.
4. Gnana Shekar Reddy
Gnana Shekar Reddy worked as gaming evangelist, managed social media for Flipkart, and organised FGOC and FGA. He currently works as social marketing head for NODWIN Gaming and also runs his own gaming start-up called The Gameplay.
5. Sid Joshi
Sid Joshi is the man with the Midas touch. The owner of Entity Gaming has a knack for finding the best gamers and moulding them for greater glory. When his in-form CS Go team was bought by his rivals, he created a new CS Go team, and the next month they won ESL India. Whatever he touches becomes gold — his Paladins team made it to the grand finale of the Paladins World Championship and is currently playing in Atlanta,USA.
6. Amar Ratnam
An avid gamer since childhood, Amar Ratnam has played more than 1,000 video games on various platforms. The first person to be paid for gaming, Ratnam is the founding member of the first professional eSports club in India.
7. Sat Mayekar
Sat Mayekar started playing games at the age of 11 and got his first title at 13. He hasn't looked back since, and has carried on his winning streak in multiple tournaments. Mayekar used to professionally compete in the racing genre because that's what gave him his dose of adrenaline. He is currently working at India's leading video game distribution company E-xpress Interactive Software Pvt Ltd as a product and community manager. He is also the manager of the Indian gaming team Brutality.
8. Nishant Patel
Former pro gamer-turned-eSports entrepreneur and DOTA 2 commentator, Nishant Patel is the first founding member of AFK Gaming. He has played a key role in spearheading its creation and growth.
9. Shravanth Reddy
Shravanth Reddy started off as a designer, developer and SEO analyst, and moved on to being the CEO and MD of LXG — League of Extraordinary Gamers, one of the biggest brands in the gaming industry today. He seeks to create a sustainable platform for the gaming community in India to connect, learn and grow. "The aim", he says, "is to act right now when Indian gaming is in its nascent stage and nurture the community in order to make gaming superstars of tomorrow."
10. Bharath Ravindran and Lokesh Suji
Bharath Ravindran is the manager of the ASUS ROG Titans DOTA 2 team. Thanks to him, a gaming laptop brand signed gamers as employees for the first time in India. The five-member team just has to play to get a salary and other perks like ASUS employees.
Lokesh Suji is an eSports evangelist, the director of Esports Federation of India, a board member and vice-president (South Asia) of Asian Esports Federation, and chief gamer and founder of Indian League Gaming. A known name in the Indian eSports arena, Suji's dream is to ensure that eSports is recognised as a category that is developed and managed professionally like other sports such as cricket or football — just like it is done in the US, European Union, South Korea and China.
A few notable mentions.
Preet Arora is currently managing Alien-H, handling the crew and maintaining relationships with clients. He was introduced to video games by a cousin, and soon got addicted. He has been closely associated with the gaming community and has worked with various brands to host events.
What started as a fun job for Soham Rane after Class X soon catapulted him into making a big splash in the gaming scene. He landed a position at Team Liquid and Red Bull Media, where he got to present his opinions on professional DOTA 2 games in front of an international audience.