India will be getting its first televised esports league this April, thanks to Indian businessman and philanthropist Ronnie Screwvala.
The bi-annual event will feature six teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2, with a prize pool of 50 million rupees (~$76,000 USD), a report by India’s Economic Times says.
The brand new league, known as UCypher League, will be featured in a daily broadcast on MTV in India, as well as Twitch and YouTube Gaming.
“We want to increase the popularity and get more people to watch esports. If we do a live telecast, it will be difficult to get non-gamers,” said Screwvala, who founded media company UTV Group, which was later acquired by Walt Disney and renamed Walt Disney India. “Therefore, we have decided to package it smartly, we know the art of storytelling, which will make for a good programming too.”
Earlier in 2017, Screwvala announced a $15 million pledge to esports in his country, and UCypher seems to be the first step in that progression.
“We are following a multiplatform approach. We want to build an audience first. Once the league is established, then only we will sell teams,“ said Screwvala.
India is the world’s second-most populated country at a recorded 1.371 billion people in 2015, according to the World Bank, but esports has yet to truly take off in the region. Screwvala thinks that the time for that growth is now, as he said in another interview with Sportskeeda.
“We have been planning an esports league for a long time now,” he said. “We were waiting for the correct time as there was not enough participation before. However, smartphones have changed the game for Indian esports. Also, with the introduction of fibernet and cheaper pricing of consoles, [the] number of gamers are increasing in number everyday.”
With the esports industry growing steadily, it makes sense to see more countries and regions joining in on the trend. And with the exposure from MTV India, that growth is likely to continue.