We had a chance to strike up a conversation with one of the stalwarts of the Indian Esports scene, Ankit ‘V3nom’ Panth about his competitive future, Brutality, the scene in general and more.
TE: Welcome, V3nom. The Indian scene has been missing you and Brutality dearly. You and Brutality have been on a break for a while now. What can we expect from you and the organisation come 2020?
First of all, thank you for having me. Secondly, as far as your question goes, we have a new lineup, with 3 new players. We’ve been practising more and more, which is why you don’t see me stream all that often. In Brutality, we don’t force players to adjust, rather figure out a style that suits us all because every player has his own individuality. We took a break because Juventa was expanding his business as you know, we need funds to run the team.
Our first target is to reach the Masters Phase in ESL INDIA and then take it from there. We had our sweet moments and it’s time to grind again. This is what motivates me, the desire to prove myself again and again.
TE: Any insights on who the 3 new players are?
One guy is pretty new but the other two have been in the scene for a decent period. We’re still trying out which is why I am not revealing the names right now. All I can say is they’re passionate and ready to work hard. I hope it works.
TE: Talking about beginning from ESL INDIA Starters Phase, the competition has grown so much. We saw Entity drop-down to Challengers at the hands of GoFigure. What do you make of the heightened level of competition in India of late?
I am happy that we will go through these challenges because that is how you test yourself. I am happy to see the scene grow. As you said, the competition has increased but that also means there are more passionate gamers. If they are willing to work hard, why shouldn’t they come up? It’s good (for us) to start from Starters because we will get to know the level of competition and maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. I treat every team I face with the utmost respect.
TE: You see the likes of DreamHack and ESL coming in more frequently. What do you think the Indian scene needs right now apart from the entry of these TOs?
The entry of these TOs is good because it’s creating awareness; fans are coming from far away and with their parents. I just met a fan who came from Chattisgarh and it felt so good to hear that my streams and videos helped him convince everyone that there is a career in gaming.
I hope DreamHack and ESL keep returning to India on a regular basis. We have to come together to help the Indian Esports scene; the media houses like you guys, the TOs, players, personalities, parents, everyone.
TE: We also saw Fnatic picking up an Indian PUBG Mobile Squad. Do you think the entry of these big names in the Indian scene is the push we need?
When big organisations come, they come with their money and credibility, which is needed to convince our parents. I’ve learnt that merely showing tournament wins or trophies is not going to help. We have to sustain ourselves through Esports and there are many ways to do that. Tournament wins or placements alone will not help you; you need a salary and support from organisations.
There are organisations in India as well that are paying consistent salaries now. The entry of international organisations will also increase competition. When everyone has a salary, a Bootcamp, a complete setup, a coach and more, then we can enjoy the rivalries, call yourself a professional athlete and thrive.
TE: Yours is a truly coming-of-age story. You strived hard to reach where you are right now and are considered one of the top Esports personalities in India and are also known worldwide now. How well does it feel to be vindicated for your decision to make gaming your career?
It feels good but moreover, I am happy that my parents are now proud. Earlier they didn’t have an answer when people asked what their son is doing. They couldn’t elaborate or explain with proper evidence. Now, when my coverage came on BBC World, Economic Times, Delhi Times and more, my parents don’t get questions like that. Now my parents just smile when they meet people who tell them that they saw their son on TV or in a magazine or newspaper.
Thank you to the Indian community and my fans who have helped me in my journey and are still helping me to this date. Also, a big shoutout to the brands that have supported me, especially Corsair & Alienware because they were the first ones to come in. Then came Intel and now I am a Red Bull Athlete. When I sign autographs, when these brands create promotions around me, when my parents see money credited in my Bank account, they realise it is a profession. These brands help in shaping the image and ensuring my parents that I am on the right path. You want nothing more than your parents to be proud of the person you are. I am still only 70% there and I have a goal set for the coming 5 years. Let’s see what happens by 2025.
TE: You have became an inspiration for many. How good does it feel to hear when someone comes up to you and tells you that you were the reason they got into Esports?
See bro, I am wearing a Tee. Can you read it out for me?
“DECIDE WHAT TO BE AND GO BE IT”.
That is the motto I live by. If you want something, you have to work for it. I don’t have a Masters or anything. I only know one thing and that is to work hard. You see me streaming, you see me doing brand endorsements, you see me playing professionally. I am doing this to prove that playing professionally is not the only way you can earn money in Esports anymore. It’s not just about me or the Indian Esports scene, it’s also about my fans also now. I have a responsibility to keep doing this and I cannot fail; for me, for them.
TE: You were one of the first to burst the myth surrounding the physicality of a gamer here in India. How important is fitness to a gamer?
Fans have started calling me ‘V3nomBiceps’. People have these misconceptions about gamers; that they are not fit, that they have bad habits, have back pains and more. Till today, none of these have happened to me. I live a simple straight-forward life. I practice every day, go to the gym and eat properly. That’s it. The profession is not at fault. It is upon the individual as to how he wants to go about things. People that suffer through Carpal tunnel, back pains. Maybe you guys are not exercising enough. if you cannot go to a gym regularly there are other ways to stay fit. You can do yoga, running and more. For me, fitness is something that helps me keep my focus. I have 3 vices – music, gaming and fitness and I have been doing these for the longest of times.
I think I am an average gamer, an average human being. I don’t do anything special. People talk about inspiration. Life is the best inspiration that can be. You learn so many things from it every day.
TE: So basically, you want to tell people that if they want Esports personalities to be considered ‘athletes’ they have to act like one.
Absolutely. If you want to call yourself an athlete, you have to behave like one. Behave like a professional, attend events on time, play your matches on time and greet people properly. It’s simple.
TE: Anything you want to say to the fans and people who want to come into Esports, especially CSGO?
The Gaming scene is growing in our country. There is a lot of talent here. I have met some of them. All I will advise is to not lose hope. It’s very difficult. But, then if it was easy, every other guy would be a gamer. It requires passion, commitment, consistency all while convincing people along the way, especially your parents.
Things will change. I am working hard; other players and teams are working hard. The entire CSGO community is working hard, you guys are working hard. Together, we will build a scene where people will feel proud and in the not-so-distant future, parents will know that gaming can be a viable career in India.