BHUBANESWAR: After successfully hosting Men’s Hockey World Cup last year, the Capital gets another opportunity to play host to eSports FIFA U-19 qualifier Tournament. As many as 130 players are participating in the two-day event that started at Kalinga Stadium Complex here on Saturday.
E-sports made a buzz when it was included as a medal event in the 2018 Asian Games, with India bagging a bronze medal. Just Think Sports is organising the event a single-elimination format.
Its founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Zaidi is surprised by the response it got from the State. “We heard that Odisha is always rocking the national platform because of its sports-loving spectators and the capability of hosting different international sporting events. However, I never expected
that more than 100 local players will participate in the eSports event which is new to the State. They surprised us,” Zaidi said.
Sports and Youth Services Secretary Vishal Kumar Dev said Odisha is leading the way when it comes to sports and sporting events. eSports is the next big thing and we are happy to support and host the event at Kalinga Stadium, he added.
A former Delhi FC player Lokmanyu Chaturvedi took to eSports seriously after winning the FIFA tournament in 2018. “This game needs a lot of homework, you must have brief knowledge about the team and team composition before playing it online.
Earlier, India was not part of the global ranking FIFA tournaments, but this year India will join the ranking tournaments and I am planning to get my ranking to join FIFA World Cup,” he said.
Nihal Thomas Jacob, an architect from Bengaluru and among the top five players in the country, said, as a football fan, he has been playing in these tournaments since 2016. Earlier, it was not being treated at par with the other sporting events in the country. Even as many people do not know what the sport
is, every city in India has at least three to four professional players now, he maintained.
According to organisers, eSports is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. "For the first time, we are organising FIFA qualifiers in Odisha. It will be also played in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. The top finishers of each qualifying round will take part in the final event, which carries a cash award of Rs 2 lakh. The champion and runners-up will receive a cash award of Rs 50,000 and Rs 35,000 respectively,” Zaidi added.