Gamer in Focus is a segment that is dedicated to esports players who are toughing it out in the Indian gaming scene right now. We reached out to professional esports players in the country across different games with a few questions. Starting things off with someone who is arguably one of the most recognisable esports players in the country.
Ankit 'V3nom' Panth is a professional gamer from Mumbai. Backed up by 10+ years of experience in gaming, he has fulfilled his dreams of becoming a professional gamer with dedication and humble attitude. He is also the brand ambassador of Alienware. This year he also got signed as the brand ambassador of Intel and was signed by Redbull as India’s first Redbull athlete in gaming.
I started playing counter strike when I was 16. It all began with a gaming café which opened near my building. One day I was coming back from school and I saw this shop, it had black tinted glasses with gaming characters all over it. Once I went in, I knew there was no coming back haha. Jokes apart, I really loved the whole feel of the game. I used to play with bots initially and thought this is how it’s played but then my friends told me that we have to play this 5 vs 5, plant and defuse bombs in this, that kind of intrigued me more.
I play for Team Brutality. I formed this team in 2008 with my friend Aakash 'RiX' More. Brutality is India's most loved team and our fan following justifies it. We are also India's only team who has maximum number of sponsors. We are currently working with brands like Alienware, Dell, Intel, Corsair, Golds Gym and Esportclothing.
I would love to play vs Pashabiceps from Virtus Pro.
I shot for the Olympic channel this year who wanted to know my journey in Esports. Olympic Channel is an over-the-top Internet television service operated by the International Olympic Committee.
One of the most emotional moment was when I launched my teams own gaming mousepad "Brutality RAGE" 2 years back. The announcement of me being the brand ambassador of Alienware was one of the best moments of my life. This was the same brand that I wanted to buy but couldn't afford initially.
In 2010 we had gone to play the chitkara university tournament in Chandigarh. I didn't have the money to travel so I had asked few friends of mine to lend me some cash and I promised them that I will pay once I return. The prize money of this tournament was 1,00,000 cash for the winners and 50,000 for runners up. I still remember while we were in the train I was doing the calculations, 4000 train journey two way, 3000 stay and 2000 food. I told my team, if we came first we would get 11,000 as profit if we came second we would get 1,000 and if we came third we all will cry together. I actually slept in the semi finals on my computer while my team played that match 4 vs 5 as we knew that the opponents were not that strong. I told my team let me sleep this game so that I can perform at my full potential in the finals. I still remember when the bomb was on me they use to shout and say drop the c4 v3nom and I use to open my eye drop it and go back to sleep. We won the tournament in the end and everyone was happy. This was the tournament which gave us recognition.
I would say it started with passion and has now become my profession. But to be frank I don’t really count this as work. It’s like everything is falling in place and is happening naturally for me in this field. I am way too much in love with this. I won’t deny but initially it was way too difficult as well. From convincing parents to waiting for that one chance to prove yourself without having any support. That whole journey of my teens was like an earthquake. Everything was just shaking and I didn’t know where to hide. I still remember when I asked for a computer at home my parents told me we don’t have money to waste. You are not some Tata or Birla so keep yourself on the ground and focus on your studies. Yes, I felt bad and angry at that time but now I understand that it wasn’t their fault. I feel blessed to have reached this level where I am today. From crying for days to get a computer to having 4 high end systems at my disposal currently. I didn’t know much at that time nor could I see the future. The only thing that I knew was how to work and I kept doing that. I can proudly say today that finally a gamer has got an opportunity to enter a space where only celebrities and cricketers were allowed until now. I am not comparing myself to them, I can never do that but it feels good to get yourself into a spot which was nearly impossible to get. I still remember when I was a kid I had a dream to own an Alienware laptop but I couldn’t because I didn’t have the money and today I am the brand ambassador of that same brand I loved. Today when I go for walks with my mom often there are people who recognize me and shout my name. There are kids who come to me for autographs, pictures, they make me sign their cell phones, headsets, mousepads etc. While I am doing that there's a smile on my mom's face and that just makes all this worth it. Few sleepless nights won’t do any harm. In life you have to make sacrifices and not fall prey to the give-up demons is what I have understood. They will try to bring you down and force you to surrender and give up but always remember that’s just life testing you. One thing that I have learnt in life is that you have to work hard for your own desires and dreams.
Age - 30
I would say its growing but we still need to see the consistency. I know there are tournaments with big prize pools happenings, big brands have started jumping in, it’s better than before but still its not at its prime. According to me it still needs 2-3 more years to have more opportunities and become stable. Currently brands are just testing this. The viewer base is still not that much in the country and that's what is holding us back. We need to take this to the masses and let them know about it. Everyday I get hundreds of messages on my social media asking me how can i become a pro gamer, i want to do it now, i will leave everything and do this etc. Even parents message me and tell that my son wants to leave everything and become like you. I have no idea about gaming, could you please guide me and my son. I want to tell everyone that in India there are only 2-3 organisations who pay their players salaries which is somewhere around 25,000-35,000, which according to me is not enough to say that you can earn your living through this. What people forget is that even if you make it to a paid team there is no surety of how long you will stay. This sport is growing and the moment you stop performing, you can be kicked out. You have to be practical and keep yourself in check. You can’t go and ask for a job saying that you are a professional gamer and your salary was 30,000. That's why studies are very important. You just have to learn how to manage things but relying only on this is not advisable for now.
I play on both desktop and laptop.
Desktop config - Intel i9 7900X processor, Aorus x299 Master motherboard, Zotac RTX 2080 graphic card, Corsair 64 gb 3200 mhz memory, Corsair H150i PRO RGB liquid cooler, Corsair MP 300 SSD 960 gb, Corsair 680x White cabinet.
Primary Monitor - Alienware 25 240 hertz monitor.
Secondary Streaming Monitor - Dell 27 inch 165 hertz.
Laptops - Alienware 17 with Intel i7 and 1070 gfx, Dell Gaming G7 with i7 and 1060 gfx
Gaming Gear - Corsair K70 RGB keyboard, G403 mouse, Brutality RAGE gaming mousepad, Corsair Void PRO wireless gaming headset.
Chair - Corsair T1 gaming chair
Initially my parents were against the idea of gaming and I really don’t blame them. Parents only want good for their children and when it comes to games or gaming they have a predetermined mindset which stops them to even thinking or talking about it. 10 years back parents safest bets were MBA, Doctor and Engineer. There’s nothing wrong in these choices and it surely might help you to have a consistent future at the least. But I was not that fond of these options. I wanted to do something that I loved doing. I am not saying I could see future back then and gaming was the best option for me but I thought to follow my passion because whenever I played I enjoyed doing it and always had a smile on my face. It was difficult to convince my parents, they are still around 50% so you know I have a long way to go. But at least now they have kind of started supporting me. I have asked them for some more time so that I can prove it to them that I can earn my living through gaming. All thanks to Mr. Ronnie Screwala’s jump into gaming and these big prize pools from ESL India. Now when they see my interviews on Radio, in magazines like GQ India, Digit, Open, newspapers like the Times Of India, when they see me doing brand endorsements, ads and on TV playing my favorite game they are kind of convinced that something can happen. For me more than the money it’s about getting that respect back for my parents. I have seen my relatives and neighbor’s pinch my family every now and then and ask them same questions again and again. What is your son doing, is he still playing, why don’t you stop him etc. My family use to avoid family functions and gatherings because of this few years back but now atleast they have started entering with their heads held high. Times have suddenly changed. The people who used to tell me that you have wasted your life and there’s no future in what you are doing, have now started following me closely and keep asking me for discounts on products, invites to launch events, they sent me my childhood pictures with their sons and family which I am sure they would have burned if I was not where I am today. I have nothing against these people to be honest. Everyone has their own way of thinking but my only request is if you can’t help someone who is struggling just try not to make it more difficult for him to live. Everyone is working hard for their dreams and you shouldn’t bring someone down just because you feel what he is doing is stupid.
After playing counter strike for few months i started getting good at it. From being the famous noob of the café because I was very bad initially to being someone who was feared playing against in the area. Soon I made an amateur team called “Warriors of Chaos” with my café friends and we use to play against random café people. Later some of them left and moved on so I made another team called “Made in Mumbai” which was more of a semi professional team with few other friends whom I came to know through this game. During our café days we had these weekend wars where the players of different cafes will fight against each other to see who the superior team is and the café owner would feel proud in boasting about that and the winners would get some cash prize and free game time. You can say it was kind of a small café tournament. The big jump for me happened when I got a chance to play as a substitute in a team called “Wolf” which was ranked one of the top 3 teams in the country back in the days. These were one of the teams who we feared because they would just bash you left, right and center in the game. But I was very passionate about the game and I didn’t want to give up just by losing few matches. I knew I had it in me and all I needed was a chance to prove myself. Also I really liked the intensity and the strategies that the game had. Whenever I saw a computer with that game on the desktop it made me happy. This game meant everything to me. I really enjoyed the café environment a lot as well where I use to play with my friends and enjoy my time. Coming from a middle class family this was luxury for me because I didn’t have a computer or any gaming consoles. So the moment I first saw computer and heard the word games, I fell in love haha.
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