ESFI's rankings system is a welcome move, but questions abound over methodology

Anand Krishnaswamy
·4 min read

The Esports Federation of India (ESFI) have recently released a statement declaring that they will be introducing a national ranking for eSports in India.

ESFI is a non-profit organisation and a full member of the International Esports Federation (IESF), Global Esports Federation (GEF), and Asian Esports Federation (AESF). The organisation intends to promote, encourage, organise, educate, train, and control eSports in India.

This statement was made via a press release, the top-rated teams for Call of Duty Mobile (Battle Royale), FreeFire, and Valorant were also revealed in the same press release. Team Resilience, Checkmate, and Adbhut Esports are the teams that have grabbed the top spots on these rankings. The teams are supposed to have been judged for their performance over 60 games for COD: Mobile (Call of Duty: Mobile), 665 games of Garena Free Fire, and 26 games of Valorant.

In the wake of the upcoming 2022 Asian Games having announced that eSports would be a medal event, there is an increased need to find top eSports professionals to represent the country.

Looking back a few months ago, there were objections to allowing private bodies to control global eSports. As in the case of GEF (Global Esports Federation), the IOC (International Olympics Committee) warned all summer and winter games about joining them. IOC stated that they had no intentions of recognising GEF as a global body for eSports. There are always questions about the source of funding for such organisations and how this could influence them in making decisions that are in favour of certain game developers or segments of the industry. GEF are largely backed by Tencent and as such this brings up doubts on their ability to remain neutral.

In the recent press release by ESFI, there are some red flags. If not dealt with quickly, the rankings are unlikely to be recognised at international competitions. The issues range from the fact that the rankings released as of today only include three eSports, of which two are based on the mobile platform. The second issue is how the rankings have been released based on a small number of private games instead of the official matches. The final issue, and possibly the greatest, is the fact that all the three teams that have been crowned as the best are new teams featuring new players with no tournament experience.

The first issue of limited eSports having their rankings released is addressed within the press release itself. ESFI intends to publish ranking for more eSports such as PES (Pro Evolution Soccer), DOTA 2, FIFA, Clash Royale, COC (Clash of Clans), and Brawl Stars.

The question of how the rankings are done over unofficial games instead of taking into account the results obtained from tournaments is far more serious. The implications of this include the fact that the rankings declared may not be indicative of the real standard of play by Indian teams and there could be other factors at play that influence the results.

The third issue is the greatest of the three as the players and teams declared as the top teams in India are untested. The fact that the names of several famous Indian teams, who have a proven track record at domestic and international competitions are missing from the rankings make it more suspicious. Some of these well-known teams that are missing from the rankings include the likes of Team Mayhem (COD: Mobile), Total Gaming (Garena Free Fire), Critical X esports, Team Mahi (Valorant), Global Esports (Valorant) or Noble Esports (Valorant).

Team Mayhem was one of the teams that qualified for the COD Mobile World Championship 2020. Total Gaming is the winner of Free Fire India Championship 2020 (FFIC) hosted by Garena. Critical X Esports was the runner-up at the same event. Team Mahi is one of the best Valorant teams consisting of Indian players. Global Esports and Noble Esports, along with team Mahi, are some of the best-known teams from India in professional Valorant.

The rankings released by ESFI have many issues and as such there is a need to re-evaluate the methodology used for determining them. The fact that well-known eSports teams are missing from the ranking is a cause for concern as it does not bode well for the credibility of the organisation or the industry.

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