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Mumbai boy to represent India in international eSports championship

Amid all the cricket fever, you might have not noticed a champion emerge in amchi Mumbai. The sport is football; or rather a videogame version of it, Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) by Konami. The tournament is the PES virtual UEFA (United European Football Association) champions’ eSports league, where only a handful of the best players from across the globe are selected to represent their country.

The prize: bragging rights for representing India, and a chance to win 15,000 Euros.

Meet Aniruddh Joshi, the champion who fought his way up to be selected and put India on the eSports map.

These days, eSports are slowly being recognised as legit sports and are being taken more seriously, with teams representing India in various games on several fronts. Though the Indian media has yet to take it up, ESPN internationally has a dedicated slot on their channel for programmes related to eSports. Plus, services like YouTube live and Twitch are packed with eager fans watching their champions duke it out in games such as Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2), Counter-Strike and more. The PES League is one such tournament by Konami with semi-finals held in several countries to find representatives who will battle it out in an international arena.

We caught up with Joshi, who’s something of a mild-mannered Clark Kent. By day, Joshi is a digital marketer at a social media agency. But by night, he practices his PES skills.

“There isn’t any origin story as such,” says Joshi. “My interest in gaming developed when I first played Pro Evolution Soccer 3. I always loved football as a sport.” Joshi has been playing PES for the last 12 years. “PES is a game that lets me play like I would play on the real football pitch. These real-time features of the game transformed me into a game buff, and that’s when I started playing PES very often.”

In fact, Joshi was never interested or involved with eSports earlier. “It was my first time, when I enrolled in the PES League Mumbai Qualifiers organised by E-xpress Interactive and Konami in Mumbai last year,” he says. “Fortunately, I played pretty well against the other players and won. I realised then what eSports feels like.”

When it comes to his training regimen, we’re pretty sure Joshi did not punch hanging pieces of meat like Rocky. So how did he keep practicing while having a full-time job? “Due to work, I can’t put in 12 hours a day like other professional eSports players. However, I play as much as possible, may be two hours a day,” he says. “Luckily, my sibling and friends are PES players too, and they help me improve my game.” Joshi’s win in India has put him on the map, and all eyes of future eSports stars are on him. “I feel honoured to get an opportunity to represent our country and test my skills against 30 of the best PES players.”

Jishi’s win is also proof that gaming has come a long way in India. From being just a great stress buster, it has broken down walls and is big enough to be considered a serious career option. Joshi added: “I would advise that budding gamers in India get more serious with their craft, practice more and aim to make it big internationally.”

All the best to Joshi and this writer hopes he brings home the gold!

The dates for the finals of the PES virtual UEFA (United European Football Association) champions’ eSports league are yet to be announced.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 3:13:16 PM |

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