When around three lakh people registered for the digital chess tournament organized by Mobile Premier League (MPL), it showed the increasing interest of Indians for online gaming.
When these tournaments give huge rewards to the gamers, it encourages them to come back and pursue their passion.
Take the example of V.S. Rathanvel, who won the MPL Chess Mahayudh and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.
Rathanvel, who is an 18-year-old prodigy from Coimbatore, managed to beat one grandmaster and drew against five others earlier this year.
He secured 253 wins out of 265 matches that he competed in over a 12-hour period.
Talking to Moneycontrol, Rathanvel, said, “I come from a middle-class family, and getting sponsors has been tough for me despite playing many tournaments.”
He added that it is important to play many international tournaments to get recognition but that comes at a cost, which not every middle-class family can afford.
Rathanvel started playing chess at the age of seven. He became a grandmaster when he was 10-years old and was also ranked third in the world under-10 category in 2011. Yet he struggles to get sponsors.
In addition, Rathanvel’s father Shiva Kumar said that the coaching fee for chess comes at a high cost. For every hour, it is around Rs 1,500. In case of coaching from international grandmasters, the fee is as high as $50 per hour and students need to pay the fee for 20 hours in advance.
But, Kumar hopes that tournaments like Chess Mahayudh could bring about a change for those who consider gaming as their passion.
Another gamer, Ankit Rajpara, who secured the second position in the chess tournament, was luckier than Rathanvel as he managed to get sponsorship from Adani Group.
Grandmaster Ankit Rajpara from Gujarat, who won 241 games and a cash reward of Rs 50,000, started playing chess at the age of eight.
He has won more than five international chess tournaments in Europe and received the grandmaster title in 2014.
As of now, there remains only two grandmasters in Gujarat, claims Rajpara.
While Rathanvel and Ankit emerged as the winners, there are many chess players who are trying to make a living by playing this sport.
With competition being tight, it becomes crucial for players to deliver their best as the gaming industry is niche, and in India, still at a nascent stage.