The gaming industry in India is poised to take off. For long a dormant market waiting to explode, the past decade has seen a near 22x rise in the number of users. From 20 million users in 2010, the gaming industry is now estimated to have nearly 450 million users indulging in a wide range of hyper-casual to hardcore gaming.
The growth figures – currently estimated at USD 950 million approximately – are expected to triple over the next three years. The penetration of affordable high-speed mobile internet and the rise of smartphone users among its 1.5 billion population has played their part. Instant digital access to sports is among the other reasons for the growth.
As per current estimates, half of India’s smartphone users play some form of games on their mobile. This number is currently estimated to be close to 370 million, with the number likely to swell to 450 million this year. This increase in user base has obviously led to several Indian esports teams springing up from across the country. Some of these Indian esports teams have invested heavily in personnel and resources to build a robust system that can dream of competing against the best in the world. LoL, CS:GO and Valorant are gaining popularity, and PUBG Mobile’s ban has only helped transfer a significant user base to these three games.
10 Best Esports Teams in India
By the end of 2022 alone, India would’ve participated in the continental championships in five games – FIFA 2022, Street Fighter V, Hearthstone, League of Legends, and DOTA 2. With the increased push for esports games to be an Olympic sport, the interest will only get bigger.
Here’s a look at the best esports teams in India.
1. Global Esports
Global Esports came into existence in 2017 in Mumbai, and immediately set the ball rolling with a series of high-profile signings of some of India’s top CS:GO flyers to become a pro team. In late 2019, they were second at the ESL India Premiership and they followed that up with a second-placed finish at South Asian leg of the ExtremeLand CS:GO Asia 2019.
In the same year, the Fortnite squad finished in the top 10 for the 2019 World Cup Asia. In August 2019, they were first in the IGF South Asia Cup Online for Dota2. In September they were toppers at TEGC 2019, and were second at ESL Indies 2019 Fall two months later.
Since then, they have been on a steady climb upwards to become one of the most competitive Indian outfits. They have teams in Dota 2, PUBG, CS:GO, Fortnite, Overwatch, Rainbow Six: Siege.
Overall, they have 12 teams worldwide and have so far racked up nine titles. They had some recalibration to do since PUBG Mobile was banned in the country. In August 2021 they won the Valorant Conquerors Championship, and qualified for the Valorant Champions Tour 2021: Last-Chance Qualifiers in Asia Pacific.
2. Team Vitality
Hot on the heels of Fnatic and Team Solo Mid expanding into the Indian market in 2019, Team Vitality, the French outfit, became the third tier-one European organisation to set foot in the Indian esports scene. The acquisition of an Indian team now leaves their overall roster count worldwide at 10. While they set grand plans of launching in 2019, the circle was complete only two years later mainly due to covid.
They have raised 12 million pounds in their quest to make headway into one of the largest Asian markets, targeting both India and China. Their challenge if of course up by several folds, mainly because the thin line between gaming, steaming and esports can be blurred courtesy several government-related measures that for the longest of time have been some kind of a hindrance.
Having first made headway into the space by leaning more towards the content creator space, the quest to build an Indian roster has been ongoing since last year. At the time of setting up, they announced Arav “MonK” Narang as the head of their Indian roster along with veteran CoD player Harnoor “Toxy” Mutneja as coach.
In August this year, Team Vitality had the fruits of labour, as they were crowned champions of COD Mobile India Challenge Season 2 when they vanquished tournament favourites GodLike Esports 4-2. Samruddha “SamS” was named MVP, effecting 126 kills with a whopping 2645 points. It was a tournament where they sailed into the playoffs without losing a match, and once there, they qualified through the upper bracket. They took home prize money of INR 6,00,000 (six lakh).
3. Total Gaming Esports
Free Fire is far from the top on the global popularity charts yet, but the game is catching on pretty fast. Formed in 2020, Total Gaming took less than a year to make a splash. In the same year, they won the Free Fire India Championship 2020 fall and were eighth in the continental series 2020 in Asia.
Then they had a rocky start to the Free Fire Pro League in 2021, but found steam and went on a giant killing spree through the summer to be crowned eventual champions. They ended the year as one of the top-earning teams of the year, with over 40 lakh INR in prize money. Apart from being a serious force as a esports team, they have developed quite a solid portfolio of work in the content space, with over 20 million subscribers on Youtube.
At the Esports Invitational series in 2022, they finished third in the league stage, behind Chemin Esports and Godlike, but dominated the final stages of the competition to finish creditably from a point where it seemed as if they would struggle to make the top six.
4. BL4ZE Esports
Their stay was all too brief, but they managed to make quite a splash during this period as a CS:GO outfit. Formed in 2019, BL4ZE esports became the first team to quality for the Asia-Pacific LAN Finals in the same year when they beat a Pakistani outfit 2-1 in the upper bracket finals of the WESG South Asia closed Qualifiers.
They dropped just one map during the entire qualifying stage, and got the opportunity to represent India and South Asia at the event. They also won three versions of the Esports Club Pro League in the second, third and fourth seasons, and one trophy at ESL India Premiership in the Fall of 2020.
The promise was all too brief, however because team captain Agneya “Marzil” Koushik’s retirement from the CS:GO competitive scene led to a major shift. It left them in a limbo, with their inability to either attract top talent or retentions being a massive hindrance. Marzil, meanwhile, has carved a niche for himself at Valorant esports.
Whether they make a return is subject to the stars aligning,. They are requesting players to try out for their team, but even if they did make a return, there are doubts whether they could attain the heights they once did during their pomp. Their period of dominance coincided with them fielding some of the region’s biggest domestic players, including Marzil, Raph and Rossi.
5. Team Brutality
Having started off as a CS:GO organisation, the Mumbai-based esports company have branched into other solo titles such as Tekken, Street Fighter, Need For Speed, Forza Motorsports and TrackMania series.
Partnering with Dell, a leading global conglomerate with a strong base in India, has helped power their technology and innovation aspirations. Dell, with the launch of its complete gaming portfolio two years ago, aimed at providing fans an ultimate experience to the gaming community at large through their Inspiron Gaming range and Alienware machines.
One of their biggest pitfalls over time has been consistency. In trying to spread their wings across the entire spectrum, there’s a sense the organisation has lost some of its single-minded focus towards one particular esport. Which has also in a way affected revenue streams of sponsorship, partnerships and other content engagement initiatives. While they’re good, lack of consistency has stunted their growth and push to be a top force in India.
6. Team Wolf
Team Wolf is the only Indian CS:GO outfit that made it through to an international esports event. However, their stay at ESL One Cologne, Germany in 2014 was short-lived as they couldn’t make it past the qualifiers, losing to Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Yet, it was seen as a massive win for just going that far appeared a gap too far to bridge. They made it there on the back of a top-of-the-table finish in the ESL One India Qualifiers.
7. Orangutan Elite
Among the most successful Indian esports outfits last year, Team Elite won the Free Fire India Championship 2021 Fall. They also made it through to the Free Fire World Series. At the Free Fire India Championship Spring, they finished third and then endured a slight dip to finish eighth in the Asian Championships that followed. In late 2021, they partnered with Orangutan Esports last month and will play as Orangutan Elite.
As a business, they mainly have three verticals – Esports, talent management and apparel. In the esports division, they field competitive teams in BGMI, Valorant and Free Fire. They also focus on creating niche gaming content. Among their portfolio of games, Free Fire happened to be their latest addition, in November last year.
8. Revenant Esports
Founded in 2020, Revenant Esports aspire to be the ’go-to’ destination for both casual and pro gamers. They are in a quest to create an engaging ecosystem that allows endemic and non-endemic brands to leverage the power of esport. They have several verticals, and compete in different games like Call of Duty Mobile, Pokemon Unite, Apex Legends, Valorant and Clash of Clans. They also have a footprint in USA.
They have a one-of-a-kind gaming facility in Navi Mumbai. Recently, they were the regional champions at Pokemon Unite India Regional Chapter. Going forward they aspire to get into Wild Rift and expand their footprint by setting base in Southeast Asia. They are also actively looking at expanding into Latin America and Brazil for a couple of games.
9. Nigma Galaxy
They entered the gaming scene in India with a pubG mobile team as Galaxy Racer, but once the game was banned, they signed an Indian Fire Free roster. In September 2021, Galaxy Racer merged with Team Nigma to form Nigma Galaxy.
A UAE-based organisation at the time, they set the stage on fire almost immediately by becoming the Free Fire India Champions in the 2021 Spring Split. This helped them qualify for the FFWS 2021 Singapore, but were denied an opportunity to compete due to travel restrictions owing to covid. It should’ve spurred them to greater heights, but they’ve undergone a massive dip and are fighting to stay afloat.
They are spread across a diverse international roster of 10 teams, with professionals from 22 countries part of the setup. Since inception, they’ve fielded line-ups in CS:GO, League of Legends, Dota 2, Call of Duty, Rocket League and Fortnite.
10. Velocity Gaming
Started in 2019, Velocity has positioned themselves as a new-age esport brand that became the first Indian team to represent the country on a global stage in the Valorant championships.
They made a terrific beginning, by being undefeated for nearly an entire year. They eventually finished second in the VCC in the inaugural year and have grown steadily since, both in terms of finances and personnel.