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Our goal is to be India’s top esports marketing agency: Cornerstone Sport COO Jogesh Lulla

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The Esports industry is soaring high both in terms of viewership and revenue. Many esports organizations have sprung up over the past year, contributing to its upward trajectory. One such esports organization is Cornerstone Esports that is progressively building an ecosystem to give a platform to all stakeholders involved in the industry.

In a conversation with G2G news, Cornerstone Sport COO Jogesh Lulla shared, “Globally esports is one of the largest sports in terms of viewership and prize money. The lockdown in India played an instrumental part in the growth of the gaming industry which also led to the increased popularity of esports in the country. While still in a nascent stage in India, the market is ready to hit the inflection point and we wanted to enter the market before that happens.”

Here are some excerpts:

Tell us about the aim and objectives of Cornerstone Esports. 

Our goal is to be the leading esports marketing agency in the country. We are building an ecosystem to benefit all stakeholders involved in the industry. The obvious starting point for us is Talent management and brand consulting since that is the core of our business and have already started our journey in the space by signing Godlike, all their talent, and RonaK. Our Brand advisory team has also been busy helping brands understand the space and the right way to associate with the sport. 

We also have a large focus on helping international teams enter India and will be looking to make a few strategic investments in areas that we feel might be better to partner with others to grow faster. In addition, we have multiple intellectual properties and tournaments in development which will be unveiled towards the end of the year and early next year. Beyond that, we are looking to expand our roster by adding more professional gamers, teams, and content creators from various titles.

What spurred the company on to create an Esports Vertical and is it a trend we are going to be witnessing across the country given the impetus being given to the segment?

We have been monitoring the esports space for a few years now and have been waiting for the right time to enter the market. Our strengths in managing athletes, sports marketing, brand creation, event management, content production, and animation make this a natural extension to our business. The scope for growth, considering the size and how young the Indian population and fans of the sport are, makes it an extremely scalable business. There will definitely be a lot more people entering the space which is also a requirement for it to grow faster.  

How will Cornerstone Esports help the gamers and what are the main offerings?

As far as the gamers go, our mantra is to ensure they can focus on improving their game while we provide them with the support they require in other aspects of their career. We help them associate with the right brands, manage their PR, and also facilitate team transfers to ensure they are associated with the right teams. Other than team and talent management, Cornerstone Esports offers services that include brand advisory, tournament development, investment, consulting services, and licensing and merchandising.

In addition to this, we have multiple intellectual properties in development. With industry-leading partners, we aim to create an ecosystem that will benefit all stakeholders and bring in a more organized approach to this industry.  We will also work towards improving the opportunities in Esports for global as well as Indian teams & talent.

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What are your views on the current scenario of Esports in India?

Already valued at INR 3 billion in FY2021, the industry is forecasted to reach INR 11 billion by FY2025, as per an EY Report, and is expected to grow at 46% CAGR over the next four years. A lot of International professional teams are noticing the potential and now looking to enter India. Currently, the esports prize pool in India accounts for around 0.6% of the global prize pool and is expected to grow to INR 1 billion in the next 4 years which will still be only around 2% of the total.

These are signs of a very rapidly growing industry with tremendous future prospects which will require a lot of support in all functions of the sport to grow. It is bound to lead to a lot of job creation and investment in the space considering the immense room available to grow. The coming years are set to be years of growth and engagement for the e-sports industry, and the future looks seemingly bright.

What has mainly led to this tremendous growth that we are witnessing in the esports ecosystem?

There are three key requirements for any sport to grow. The first is accessibility to the right infrastructure to both train and compete. The second is having the right platform to compete and gain visibility and the third is recognition by the appropriate sporting bodies. The increased availability, processing power, and affordability of smartphones along with affordable high-speed internet checks the first box. In India, this is however still limited to mobile gaming.

The cost of gaming consoles and gaming PCs at the moment is still a limiting factor for those games. Platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Loco, Rooter, and many more have been instrumental in ensuring that e-sports athletes have platforms to showcase their skills. They have also been the key to helping the rapidly growing number of tournaments to gain visibility which takes care of the second point.

The inclusion of e-sports in the Asian Games has taken care of the third point and is also helping change the negative perception about mobile gaming. Parents and society are now realizing that e-sports can be a rewarding career option.  

Any female-specific team you are planning to bring to the fore to ensure inclusivity within esports given the kind of discrimination and abuse women ensure during gaming? 

We are extremely keen to sign female gamers and are actively looking for the right talent to partner with. We have been looking into ways to make the sport a lot more inclusive and are confident that we will be able to bring female gamers to the forefront. There is a shift in the mindset of people about E-sports in general making it acceptable to pursue it as a career now. We will very soon see very successful female gamers, who with the right visibility make everyone realize that there doesn’t need to be a gender divide in the sport and hope to be instrumental in making this happen. 

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