I was informed about CeBIT / Plugged-IN earlier in February this year for business reasons. The summary of the expo got me very excited and I had decided that I need to be a part of this event. Although I could not be a part of the event, the excitement was always there to experience the Indian edition of the most popular expo.
Plugged-IN Games Arena that’s sponsored by MTS was one of India’s largest gaming event in terms of prize pool. 20 Lakhs INR (approx. US$32,273 at the time of writing), which would be split among CS: GO & DOTA 2 equally. Top 64 teams were to be awarded. And to make it even more exciting there was the announcement of players from Team Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) attending the event.
Roshan had a media invite from MTS to attend the launch of India’s first online multiplayer gaming platform. I was curious to know about it and I made a request to Roshan if I could attend the press conference on behalf of Hardware BBQ to which he obliged.
I tagged along with Mr.Naqui Ahmad of NVIDIA in the morning. We reached the venue at around 9 AM. Not many had shown up & I could notice members of Team Oblique Gaming & Team NeckBreak eSports at the entrance. We greeted each other and waited for the registration counters to open and grant us our passes. In a while, the gates opened and everyone lined up at the counters to collect their passes.
Few minutes & I notice players from Na’Vi show up at the registration counters. I just had to make the first move. I went towards Ioann “Edward” Sukhariev and requested if I could have a picture taken to which he agreed. And then I saw a bunch of aspiring Indian pro gamers wanting to take a picture with NA’VI players. They were too shy in the beginning but gained courage after I made the first move. We almost had the counters blocked.
Later, I had to inform the PR agency who gave me Media (Senior Reporter at Hardware BBQ :D) pass to enter the expo. I was then taken to Hall-1 where Plugged-IN was on. As I entered the hall, I could notice a nice setup of Gionee (Left), GameGod (Right) and a little ahead I noticed a PlayStation booth. I started going around and I noticed few other brands like BOSE, WD, ASUS, Brother (Printers), Hitachi, NVIDIA, SteelSeries, BenQ and Acer (None would have noticed, SteelSeries to their left & BenQ on their right made them invisible). There was an AUDI A3 car at one end of the hall.
There was the games arena ahead of all the stalls. There were about 100 systems ready for all the aspiring pro gamers to compete and win a total of 20 Lac INR for CS: GO and DOTA2. A huge stage was setup and screens on the extreme end for the spectators to watch & enjoy the games.
A few gamers noticed me and we started talking for a while. I was then told that the announcements would happen on the stage and I found a place at the front to witness the product launch. Then came the hostess and got the event started. Leonid Musatov, Chief Marketing & Brand Officer of MTS India took the stage for the product launch. The star players from Team Na’Vi were invited on the stage where he announced GameGod- India’s first online video gaming platform which would enable gamers to play on ranked servers for the first time in India.
I was then taken to the conference room for a press briefing. We had Leonid Musatov, Iaonn “Edward” Sukhariev & Gleb “Funn1k” Lipatnikov at the briefing. Leonid spoke about the Indian gaming industry and the reason why Professional gaming or eSports is yet to take shape. He said that the current eSports scene in India is chaotic and unorganized. This encouraged them to introduce GameGod which (according to them) will take eSports towards the right direction.
The current servers can handle up to 50,000 gamers at once. Leonid Musatov told me that the GameGod tournaments will be back shortly. Gamers would require a membership in order to participate in the tournament. The membership starts from INR 499 and goes up to INR 4,999. The different packages are as follows:
• Membership Card: INR 499/-
• Navi Jersey Combo: INR 1,999/-
• Navi T-Shirt Combo: INR 1,499/-
• SUL Combo 2: INR 1,299/-
• All in One Pack: INR 4,999/-
Leonid Musatov also said that pro gamers like the ones from team Na’Vi earns around 400,000 USD a year. They also retire by the age of 25-26. We had a photo session with the Na’Vi players after the briefing.
After the press briefing, we had a short little talk with the players from Na’Vi. I asked a few questions to them along with the other media.
Karthik: When did you start gaming?
Funn1k: At the age of 10.
Edward: At the age of 10 or 11 (He recollects).
Karthik: How long did it take to turn pro?
Funn1k: 3-4 years.
Edward: At the age of 17.
Karthik: How many hours do you practise?
Funn1k: 5-6 hrs a day and 8-10 hrs during tournaments.
Karthik: How many tournaments do you attend every year?
Funn1k: 5-6 Big Tournaments & 1-2 every month.
Karthik: What do you do when not gaming?
Edward: Sports – Swimming, Running etc.,
Karthik: How do you train? What is your training process like?
Edward: Play all maps
Funn1k: 400,000 USD/Year
Karthik: Advice to Indian gamers?
Funn1k: Respect players in the team.
Edward: Everyone can win
Once done, I reached back to the Hall-1. The games started a little late perhaps due to late entries. There were few stage games played later in the day. I watched a few games till the end of the day.
I had a slow start on the 2nd day. Thanks to Mr.Naqui Ahmad who was patiently waiting for me. We reached the venue at between 9-to-9:30 AM. It wasn’t exciting on day 2 until Na’Vi players showed up for a 2 player Vs. 2 Player challenge. A couple of Indian gamers were given the chance to play with Na’Vi. And Indians did pretty well against the Na’Vi players.
Later, Na’Vi players decided to ‘Just Dance’ on the stage, which was a cool sporty gesture from them to entertain the crowd who had come to meet them.
The games continued as usual. We then had the chance to watch India vs Indonesia, where Team Virtual Impact (India) played Team nXL (Indonesia) in the winner bracket finals. Team Virtual Impact gave a very tough competition to the Indonesian team. They could not manage to hold nerves & Team NXL won the close game 16-14. This meant that Team nXL had reached the grand finals & sure to take the win or the runner-up spot.
In DOTA 2 Oblique Gaming were the favourites to the win. They had no trouble reaching the grand finals. Now it was down to the rest of the teams to battle it out in the lower brackets and face Oblique Gaming at the grand finals.
I was late to the event. I had to attend an unexpected meeting & the Bangalore traffic made it worse. I reached the venue by around 3:30 PM. I was frequently updated on the games by my friends at the venue. Team NeckBreak came from the loser bracket, beat Team Virtual Impact and made it to the grand finals. They also had a close first game against Team nXL (14-16) which I could not witness. I made it to the second game, It was a very close game which could have gone either way. Team Neckbreak held nerves, pushed it to overtime & gained momentum, finally winning the map in Overtime. We could hear the crowd cheer for them throughout the game. It was 1-1 and we all could not have expected a better finale. Third game was no different. 14-14 and nXL managed to get the round & it was pressure for Team Neckbreak. Team nXL took a risk and played aggressive by pushing & convincingly won the round & the match & the tournament.
Immediately, the prize ceremony was hosted for the CS: GO winners. Team Virtual Impact was 3rd & received INR 1,00,000 followed by Team NeckBreak who received INR 1,50,000. Team nXL received INR 4,50,000.
I did not follow much of DOTA 2 till the grand finals. Team TAG Pro had dominated the loser bracket games & made it to the grand finals to face Oblique Gaming. Game one was dominated by Oblique Gaming & most expected the second game to be the same. But it was not. TAG Pro put up a great fight & managed to take the game. This was the only team who managed to take a game away from Oblique Gaming in the tournament.
The third game was filled with delays because of internet connectivity. During this, we had the Cosplay competition. We had few cosplayers dressed as CS: GO / DOTA 2 characters. No clue what was going on & who won the contest. But to me Rhasta was a clear winner right from Day 1.
Despite the delays, the teams did not lose focus, gave the spectator a good time. I personally enjoyed watching the games throughout the tournament. Like the CS: GO prize ceremony, there was for DOTA 2 as well. Team infamous came 3rd and won INR 1,00,000. Team TAG pro managed to take home INR 1,50,000 and Oblique Gaming won what they call it “Easy Money” INR 4,50,000.
Tejas “iBRA” Sawant was judged the best player of the tournament in CS: GO & Puneet “Prophecy” Sangolekar was judged the best player in DOTA 2. They received 10,000 INR each for this.
And finally the tournament and the expo has ended. There were a lot of hiccups, but I will appreciate the organizing team of Plugged-IN / Nodwin Gaming. It is never easy to host something of this kind for the very first time. I look forward to being there to witness another gaming spectacular. I hope to see many more international teams visit India to compete & same time many Indian teams take this platform to gain exposure with the international teams.