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With PUBG Mobile taking over the Indian esports circuit with an unprecedented amount of viewership, fans and tournaments, it was always only going to be a matter of time before a global esports team made its way to India. Fnatic is the first to capitalize on this opportunity by picking up an India-based roster.
By featuring some of the most popular PUBG Mobile players in the country, the organization enjoyed the immediate attention of a massive fanbase who are eagerly awaiting the debut of this roster under the Fnatic brand.
The organization’s venture in India is expected to have far-reaching, positive, effects across various facets of the local industry, similar to what was witnessed when OpTic Gaming first entered the country back in 2018.
Legitimacy for the Indian Esports Ecosystem
Even before Fnatic’s entry, the Indian PUBG Mobile scene had multiple factors indicating that it was on an upward trajectory, with the multitude of tournaments, massive prize pools, and huge footfall and viewership numbers to nourish optimism that the title was here to stay.
Fnatic’s investment in India indicates that the organization sees the potential market in the country with an abundance of opportunities for merchandise sales, sponsorships, and other streams of revenue. In fact, Fnatic’s Chief Gaming Officer Patrik Sättermon has acknowledged that the Indian PUBG Mobile market is a “thriving esports community.”
In October 2018, a member of the OpTic India Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) roster was caught cheating on LAN at the ZOWIE eXTREMESLAND Main Event in Shanghai, China. Shortly after, the roster was disbanded and the entire OpTic India project was shut down, leaving behind a perception of distrust around Indian esports in the eyes of the international business community. The fact that Fnatic has managed to break through this stigma, has now reinvigorated and re-established faith in the country’s esports scene. Contingent upon the team’s performance on the global stage, this move will also inevitably bring Indian esports back on the radar of other big-ticket global esports organizations, who might once again consider picking up esports teams in the country.
With endemic Indian esports organizations like Entity Gaming, Global Esports, and Orange Rock Esports signing the best of the remaining PUBG Mobile players, perhaps partnerships between international organizations and local ones is the way forward for the scene.
Fnatic’s Effect on Other Local Organizations
Fnatic is among the world’s longest-running esports organizations. The organization has a proven track record of building and operating successful rosters across game titles, not only from a performance perspective, but also from a business perspective.
Its success transcends multiple games across various platforms including League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota 2, FIFA, and Clash Royale. It has established a culture of winning across its multiple divisions, which is expected to carry over to the newly acquired PUBG Mobile team as well. Fnatic will no doubt lend its experiences and facilities that enable its success to the Indian roster, helping it to evolve and develop into a stronger presence in the global scene.
This, in turn, might urge other organizations in the Indian esports realm to invest in developing their rosters to keep pace with Fnatic’s growth. The opportunity to practice and compete versus Fnatic is a valuable one for existing Indian esports organizations. Claiming victories against Fnatic in tournaments will provide ample brand-building opportunities for local teams via content created by leveraging bragging rights.
Sättermon’s statement to AFK Gaming, “Over time, we are looking to set up a gaming facility and staff up so that all the fans and gamers in India can get the full Fnatic experience that they deserve, in terms of products, experiences, and of course content”, indicates that it will be making inroads into revenue opportunities, which are yet to be fully explored in the Indian esports scene. Perhaps with an international team like Fnatic leading the way, more teams will begin to explore these untapped revenue streams.
Increased Viewership and Attention from Global Audience
Much like how OpTic India brought the #GreenWall to India, Fnatic is also expected to bring in its own fan base from across the globe to the country. With it, they bring in increased viewership numbers, a cosmopolitan viewer base, and global attention to Indian esports tournaments.
The fact that Fnatic picked up the most popular and successful PUBG Mobile team in the country bodes well for the India’s esports scene. It is more than likely to be the strongest team both in terms of performance and branding in the country. With multiple international tournaments including the PUBG Mobile Club Open: Fall Split on the horizon, a lot of attention will fall on the roster. Perhaps other Indian PUBG Mobile teams can ride this wave and expand their fan bases.
Increased viewership from a cosmopolitan viewer base will offer access to international sponsorship revenue for local tournament organizers. Overall, increased global attention is only expected to increase revenue opportunities for domestic organizations.
Fnatic India will be making its debut at the PMCO 2019 Fall Split: South Asia Qualifiers, on Nov. 6.
It will be interesting to see how the roster fares against other top tier teams from the region. With the quality of talent at their disposal, anything other than a victory would be a disappointment for the organization. The viewership numbers that this tournament pulls should also be a rough indicator of the health and potential of the Indian PUBG Mobile market.
Earlier this season, PMCO 2019 India had an average viewership of 28K, according to Esports Charts. With the increased attention thanks to Fnatic’s debut, the PMCO 2019 Fall South Asia should eclipse this number.
Vignesh Raghuram is a staff writer for AFK Gaming.
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