Amid the focused gamers, loud supporters, cavorting Chinese models, blinding light and exploding music, Santanu Basu was looking for his India blazer.
The blazer was one of Basu’s prized possessions that he brought to Yiwu in eastern China to wear during the FIFA Online 3 e-tournament, a widely popular interactive game, organised as part of the Yiwu Cultural Products Trade Fair. He was among the eight top gamers from Asia — including four from China — selected to take part in the FIFA-regulated tournament.
Basu for sure is a bundle of Bengali clichés: loves his football, his fish and supports East Bengal. But here comes the twist: he is among the few professional, sponsored Indians to represent the country in gaming — or e-sports — competitions across the world. That’s where his India blazer comes in handy.
Basu has used that blazer at least 21 times. “This is my 21st FIFA international championship. I’ve played before in Dubai, Indonesia, Korea, China in 2009, Malaysia, and Singapore. Last year I won the domestic Indian championship in Delhi.”
Ranked number 1 in India, Basu comes 41st in the world.
He is gaming for 10 years, at least five years internationally, and he is not happy with how it is shaping up in India even though he thinks there are at least 25,000 gamers in the country.
“We are way behind. Look at China,” Basu said, pointing around at the massive game show organised by the authorities. The venue was packed, the facilities were top-class and the players were being looked after efficiently.
“Like China, we should host events like this. It is not about paying huge money. It’s about bringing people together and giving them a boost,” Basu said.
“We should be organising similar international competitions in India to attract players from all over the world,” he said.
Basu did not win the tournament inYiwu. He lost to China in the semi-final and then lost to Malaysia in the decider for the 3rd place. “The Chinese (supporters) booed me a lot,” he said.
But for the 27-year-old, Yiwu is hardly the last stop. Next few months, Basu will be playing for India in Portugal, Singapore and France. Keeping him reassured will be his well-worn India- blazer.