Maharashtra government rewards Asian Games Esports athletes

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The Directorate of Sports and Youth Services of the Government of Maharashtra has awarded a prize of Rs. 10 lakhs to each Esports athlete representing India in the Asian Games 2022, held in Hangzhou, reported IndianTelevision. This move marks a shift for Indian Esports, with Maharashtra becoming the first state to include Esports alongside traditional sports in prize money rewards for state players in a major tournament.

The recipients of this include Darshan Bata, captain of the DOTA 2 team, along with his teammates Krish Gupta, Ketan Goyal, Shubham Goli, and League of Legends athlete Samarth Trivedi.

Darshan Bata of Mumbai, the captain of the DOTA 2 team expressed his gratitude and said, “I would like to express my sincere thanks to ESFI and the Maharashtra government for honouring us and recognizing and supporting Esports.”

Indiesport quoted Ketan Goyal who lives in Pune saying, “It has been a great experience at the Asian games, I am grateful for the support I received from the Maharashtra government and I really appreciate the efforts ESFI has contributed to our journey.” He was a part of the DOTA 2 team at the Asian Games 2022.

Esports, making its debut as a full-fledged medal event at the Asian Games 2022, saw India participating in titles such as DOTA 2, EA Sports FC Online, League of Legends, and Street Fighter V: Champion Edition. Maharashtra-based athletes, chosen through nationwide qualifiers by the Esports Federation of India (ESFI), showcased talent and dedication, earning praise for their performances.

The League of Legends team achieved a fifth-place finish, showcasing India’s competence in the Esports arena. The state government’s acknowledgement and financial support for these athletes mark a step towards recognising competitive gaming as a mainstream sport in India.

Shubman Goli of Pune who represented India at both the Commonwealth Esports Championships as well as the Asian Games 2022 in DOTA 2 said, “Thank you ESFI and team for all your support throughout the Asian games 2022. We are really blessed and honoured by the Maharashtra Government for supporting Esports players and considering Esports in events like the Commonwealth and Asian Games,”

Krish Gupta also shared his gratitude and said, “Really happy to see that Esports is getting recognized and we are being aided by the government. Thank you for the support to the Maharashtra Government and a big shoutout to ESFI for giving us this opportunity to represent India in the Asian Games.” He is a member of the Indian DOTA 2 team.

Before the 19th Asian Games, India had also secured a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Esports Championships in DOTA 2, presenting the country’s expertise in video gaming on the international stage.

Samarth Trivedi of Thane played a part in the country’s performance in League of Legends at the tournament. Sharing his gratitude for this reward, he said, “I am really grateful to the Maharashtra government for providing us with the financial support. It is amazing to see Esports being recognized by the Government. A huge shoutout to ESFI for giving us the opportunity and platform to compete at the Asian Games 2022 in Hangzhou.”

This development aligns with projections in the FICCI-EY report, suggesting India’s emergence as a key player in the international Esports arena by 2024. With Maharashtra’s stance, Esports is further set to grow and receive recognition nationwide, cultivating a new era of sports culture in the country.