Eye on the big prize

A gaming enthusiast turned pro gamer, Saurabh Saha, one of the top 20 Dota-2 players in the country, says it’s either the international level or nothing.

Published: 17th July 2017 08:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th July 2017 08:57 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: Easily one of the top Dota-2 players in the country, 23-year-old Saurabh Saha, also known as ‘Deliverance’ in the gaming world, has made a name for himself in a very short time.
Saurabh who turned pro just last year has either aced most Dota-2 tourneys or has finished in top three with his team, ‘Go Figure.’ Despite playing at the top level, he tells City Express about the perils of turning pro and choosing an unconventional career path in a country that does not fully appreciate nor recognise the gaming field as such.

Saurabh Saha

“The International Dota-2 Championship is the ultimate aim of every gamer. However the skill level of players and development of the game in our country is not at par with international standards,” says Saurabh. The International Dota-2 Championship has a cash prize of around $ 20 to 21 million. “While my parents are not very supportive now, if I make it to the international level and do well, this career path will no longer be a problem for them.”

There are many players in Dota-2, Saurabh says that there are however only around 20 individuals in India who possess the skills  required to take a player to international levels. He and his team have played in some major Dota-2 tournaments in the country, such as the Indian eSports Championship or IeSC, 2016, one of the most popular Dota-2 events in the country, where they came first, winning  a prize money of `3 lakh. They also competed in the  COBX Indian Esports Championship this year where they again came first. The ESL Dota-2 is another prominent tourney where Saurabh and  team competed, finishing in third place.

Even though Saurabh is among the 20, he too knows it will take herculean efforts and hardwork to fight it out at the international levels. “I practice for around 10 to 12 hours for five days a week. However, the platforms that we get here and the kind of players we play against are not up to the mark, when you compare with players abroad. This is one of the reasons why even the top two Dota-2 teams in the country have foreign players from Philippines and Australia to help them reach that level,” says Saurabh. He counts the Jordanian-Polish Dota-2 player, Amer Al-Barkawi, popularly known as Miracle and the Phillipino player Abed Azel Yusop as his favourites.  

A student of PESIT, Saurabh studies biotechnology and is on the verge of completing his course. “In India the scene is definitely improving however if I remain a pro here there is no scope. I have to go abroad,” says Saurabh.

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