How top esports talent rose from obscurity

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Ampverse’s team of talent scouts spends a lot of time scouring professional and amateur esports leagues. Pathfinders use internal tools to compare performance metrics such as the “kill ratio” (the proportion of kills on each side in a battle). But beyond playing ability, Ampverse is interested in the “hyper-growth trajectory and fanbase acceleration” of new recruits. By gleaning data from YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok, Ampverse can compare subscriber growth, engagement rates, and “dwell time” (i.e., the amount of time fans spend watching content). It also examines the number of concurrent views on live streaming platforms like Twitch, where Ampverse CEO Ferdinand Gutierrez previously worked.

Different games require different skill sets, Baillie says, but holistically it’s not much different from finding talent in traditional sports.

“Any successful esports team is all about teamwork,” he says. “We’ve all seen football players who could be absolute geniuses on their own, but if they don’t play well with a team it affects the dynamics.”

Strategy skills and lightning-fast reaction times are important, as is mental toughness. 7Sea uses the “scrum” method, a team-building framework typically used in IT environments, which can also build trust, confidence and mindset. Their coach acts as “scrum master” and leads 7Sea through a rigorous daily schedule that often begins with a personal trainer guiding players through exercise and meditation sessions.

“We are looking for an ability to stay focused,” explains Baillie. “These games are so intense. An esports tournament is not like a traditional sports tournament, where you only play one game a day. Esports players can play for up to nine hours, and they also have to absorb a review of their performance.”

A growing nation of esports athletes

Baillie describes India as “the most exciting and fastest growing market in the world” for esports. It is currently one of the top five global mobile gaming markets, with a 13% share of global gaming sessions. There are around 430 million recreational gamers in India, with the average spending 3.6 hours a week watching tournaments. Revenue is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 36% over the next three years.

A report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) released in October found that digital games as mobile app downloads increased by 50% and user engagement increased by 20% during the pandemic, in part because many alternative forms of entertainment have come to a halt during lockdowns.

“The Indian market is still in its infancy, compared to other more mature markets in Southeast Asia, and it is growing at breakneck speed,” says Baillie. “The viewership is huge. Practice matches – that is, not even professional matches – attract 100,000 simultaneous viewers. In the next six to 12 months, it’s going to completely explode.”

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