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Asian Games 2018: Esports makes dazzling debut, gives hope to India

After Vietnam, India had the second highest number of teams who had qualified for the main event post the regional qualifiers along with Hong Kong.

asian games 2018 Updated: Aug 26, 2018 19:02 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Palembang
Asian Games 2018,Asian Games,Esports
The Indian team battles against Laos at the eSports "Arena of Valor" tournament as a exhibition sport at the 2018 Asian Games.(AFP)

Gaming is no more for entertainment only. If you are an expert, you have an opportunity to win laurels for the country. Gaming has been a passion among Indian youth. And by the time it becomes an official discipline at 2022 Asian Games, esports would have a big chunk of competitors from India.

On Sunday, esports kicked off its Asian Games journey as a demonstration sport at a glittering ceremony with over 150 athletes — including nine from India — from 18 different countries, tussling for supremacy in an electrifying atmosphere.

The Indians could make it to the national side only after winning in the South Asian Regional qualifiers. Navaneetha Anand, Ankur Diwakar, Tirth Mehta, Karan Manganani, Tanmay Kumar, Abhineel Bajoria, Giridhar K Sajeev, Harsh Maan and Vishwajeet Singh Tomar are trying their luck in games like Pro Evolution Soccer, Hearthstone, Clash Royale and Arena of Valor.

After Vietnam, India had the second highest number of teams who had qualified for the main event post the regional qualifiers along with Hong Kong. “It’s a big day for gaming world over that the disciplines finally gets its real shape. We too have millions of people back home, playing games on their mobiles and other gadgets, and now they have a target to achieve something into it,” director of Esports Federation of India, Lokesh Suji said on Sunday.

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Team members too sounded excited on getting a unique opportunity to turn their gaming passion into a medal-winning one for country. “It’s like a dream come true and I am feeling proud and honored to be able to participate in Asian Games esports event,” AOV esports athlete Harsh said.

“I never thought that one day my passion of gaming would bring me to Jakarta in the Asian Games. I have practiced hard and hoping that it pays off at the main event,” Tirth Mehta, a Hearthstone esports athlete said just before the start of the event on Sunday.

Both Abhineel Bajoria and Giridhar K Sajeev, pursuing medical undergraduate degrees, admitted that gaming at this level has boosted the confidence of many of his friends too. “It sounds different when you get to know that gaming can fetch you a medal, but now it seems a reality and I am excited to it,” Abhineel said.

PES esports athlete Navaneetha Krishnan and Ankur Diwakar were surprised to see the passion for gaming here. “It’s great to be here as we never thought that gaming has been this much popular over the world and now this is going to become a medal sport.”

Asian eSports Federation president Kenneth Fok claimed that his organisation was committed to pursuing Olympic status for computer gaming. “Our vision for the federation is to have eSports recognised as an Olympic sport, and that is clear. We see eSports as a traditional sport.”

First Published: Aug 26, 2018 19:02 IST

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