Virat Kohli is MPL’s Brand Ambassador for Another Year

Mobile Premier League (MPL) has renewed its association with its brand ambassador and Captain of the Indian Cricket team Virat Kohli for another year, as reported by Exchange4Media.

Virat was first signed on as MPL brand ambassador for a year in March 2019, when the company launched various video campaigns with the cricketer to gain momentum for the platform before Indian Premier League. In April 2019, a TVC campaign #GameKheloHeroBano featuring Virat was launched. MPL had about 25 million registered users in April 2019, and at present it has about 32 million registered users and over 5 billion gameplays.

Recently, MPL launched a 75-second video campaign that was shot in Mumbai, where Virat met and spoke with the top 10 winners of the ‘Meet Virat’ contest on the platform. That video went viral on social media. MPL offers fantasy, prediction and virtual games of skill and cricket.

In reference to the renewal of Virat’s association with the brand, he said,  “I am happy to announce that I have renewed my association with Mobile Premier League (MPL). In just over a year, I have seen this young Indian startup grow and reach fans across India. I look forward to supporting them in achieving their goal of being the number one gaming company in India.”

Jogesh Lulla, COO, Cornerstone Sports, which manages Kohli said, “MPL is a young company with exceptional leadership and is on track to become the largest e-sports platform. Our partnership thus far has been fantastic and we look forward to helping them grow from strength to strength along with Virat.”

“We are honoured and privileged to have Virat continue his association with the MPL family. With his love and support, we have started to march towards our goal of democratising esports and skill monetisation across India. Virat, his persona, and his positivity resonates across our youth, and along with him, we are looking forward to doing our bit to empower the immensely large talent pool in our country,” said Sai Srinivas, Co-Founder and CEO, MPL.


MPL Conducts Esports and Mobile Gaming Awareness Meet at IIM Ahmedabad

Leading esports and digital gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) recently conducted an event at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) to raise awareness about mobile gaming and esports industry and career options in the industry.

As per a report by IFSG-KPMG, the esports industry in India is worth around INR 43.8 billion and is estimated to reach about INR 118.8 billion by the year 2023, with the GAGR of 22.1 per cent.

MPL is an online gaming platform that connects game developers to gamers. The platform was founded last year by Sai Srinivas Kiran G, an IIT Kanpur graduate, with his friend Shubham Malhotra. MPL hosts various games like chess, quiz, carrom, fantasy sports and rummy from third-party developers on a single app.

The MPL event at IIM-A was presided by a panel of renowned industry personnel including Sai Srinivas, Co-Founder and CEO, MPL, Professor Amit Karna, Chairperson- Placements, IIM-A, Naman Jhawar, Head of Strategy, MPL, Deepak Ojha, Founding Editor, Talk ESport, and was moderated by Dibyojyoti Mainak, General Counsel, MPL.

The event was preceded by a presentation by Deepak Ojha, on the domestic and international esports industry. Later, the panel discussion covered a range of topics including how games of skill can be democratised by the ease of access offered by esports. The game studio and developer focus for esports platforms like MPL was also discussed.

Professor Karna highlighted potential job opportunities for management graduates in the esports industry. Students from IIM-A also raised a lot of questions on the current state of the industry in India and about the available or potential job roles in esports organisations.

“We are glad to be able to partner with esteemed institutions like IIM-A to create awareness about esports and how it presents a tremendous opportunity for India on multiple fronts like recognition, employment and monetisation,” said Sai Srinivas, Co-Founder and CEO, MPL. 

As the industry grows, the company is said to be set to actively involve student and academic community by holding events and competitions where students can present business plans, case studies, etc.

Hopefully, such activities by platforms like MPL will pave a path for a more aware academic environment, where new talent will be eager to join the esports industry, giving it a push.

In October 2019, in an interview to Glaws, MPL CEO Sai Srinivas said, ‘Esports in India and across the globe is on the cusp of a mainstream revolution. Given the global opportunities that are mushrooming, we at MPL believe India is poised to grab the chance. We need the right support system for esports players and developers alike. And MPL provides the platform for the entire system to grow on.’

‘Overall, we want to play our part in developing gaming and esports as a viable career option for developers and gamers alike,’ added Srinivas.

Earlier this year, MPL raised US$35.5 million (around Rs. 248.5 crores) in a Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital India, Times Internet (part of the Times of India Group) and GoVentures (the investment arm of Indonesian tech startup Go-Jek).

Diverse skills are employed to operate a platform like MPL. This year, MPL acquired Pune-based engineering firm Crevise Technologies in a cash and stock deal to leverage their experience in DevOps, Machine Learning, and Full Stack Development to make MPL platform more robust, agile, and reliable for its users. 

Esports platforms, such as MPL, also create opportunities for professional gamers to make a career out of their skills. In July, MPL conducted a chess tournament called MPL Chess Mahayudh, where three professional chess players won from the prize pool of INR 11 lakh. VS Rathanvel, an 18-year old chess prodigy from Coimbatore, won the first prize of Rs. 5 Lakh. Overy 90,000 users, including grandmaster Ankit Rajpara, from Gujarat, participated in the event on the tournament day. Viswanathan Anand, a renowned Indian chess players, was the brand ambassador of the event.

Business Gaming

Nazara pledges to invest $20 million in startups in 2020

Social gaming and sports content company Nazara Technologies Limited has announced its intention of investing upto US$20 million in select startups in the gaming and sports ecosystem in the Indian sub-continent, Africa and Middle-East over the next one year.

The company  aims to act as a catalyst to further expedite growth of gaming; esports and sports content across emerging markets. Nazara plans to infuse risk and growth capital in the selected startups besides offering mentorship to the founders of the startups that it invests in.

Commenting on the strategy, Nazara Technologies CEO Manish Agarwal noted, “Looking at the explosive growth in the interactive entertainment and sports ecosystem, Nazara has decided to up its aggression on investing in the emerging market ecosystem and support early stage startups accelerating the growth of these companies and of the industry at large.”

The company noted that it had already invested over US$50 million in 13 startups in the last two years. Nazara recently acquired majority stake in real money quiz app Qunami, daily fantasy sports platform Halaplay, sports news website Sportskeeda and preschool education app Kiddopia.


Feature: WinZO CEO Paavan Nanda discusses his vision of building a vernacular gaming platform

In this exclusive interview, serial entrepreneur and IIM Calcutta graduate Paavan Nanda, who founded gaming platform WinZo Games discusses his vision of creating a vernacular esports and digital gaming platform that would cater to the needs of tier 2, 3, 4 and 5 cities in India.

Full interview:

Q. You launched the app, earlier branded as TicTok Games in 2017. Can you tell us the idea behind your venture, the rebranding of the product and the response in the past two years?

Paavan Nanda (PN): In 2017, Jio created a great infra in India that got 300 million people from Tier 2/3/4/5 audience for the first time on smart phone and internet. This new audience that was very diverse, was spending ample time consuming content in form of games and videos on their mobile phones. In 2018, there were 6 billion mobile games installed by 300 million people who were clocking on an average 45 mins playing games! This massive engagement was not the best monetized in India, in-app purchases and ad revenues didn’t make a stable business case to this audience.

The Team at WinZO, was most excited about building an online vernacular social arcade gaming platform that was backed by micro-transactions. With an 8-member team, we started our journey in early 2018 and developed a Tier2/Tier3 audience focused product. Focus was  to introduce them to the digital grid where they make their first entertainment transaction.  

Today 30% of WinZO consumers from the Tier 2/3 cities are making their first media and entertainment transaction online. The product is not just for Bharat but is actually build by Bharat. All the translation done on the platform for the vernacular languages and trivia are being done real time by housewife’s, teachers and university students from different part of the country.

WinZO is the first vernacular gaming company to partner with more than 600 housewives, schoolteachers and university students in rural Bharat to empower them by providing a parallel stream of income.

WinZO is one of the fastest growing players in the industry! And we aim to become the world’s largest online arcade gaming platform.

Q. We know that WinZO has seen 10 million installs till date and has set an ambitious target of reaching the 100 million registered users mark. How does the company plan to achieve this? Also, can you throw some light about the numbers generated by WinZO such as active users, monthly revenue run rate and paying user base?

PN: Today, WinZO has 10 million registered users on the platform playing in 10+ languages. These players are playing from 10,000+ cities, towns and  villages across India. Less than 10% of the audience is from Metro/ Top Cities of the country. The average time spent on the app is 45 mins/day. This is more than the time spent watching TV during primetime, you can clearly see a shift in the consumption pattern with great infra kicking in the country.  We see these numbers grow 10X in coming 12 months.

Interesting, UPI and Digital payments have solved for different monetization models for products. We decided to use this to drive micro-payments driven economy. We are already witnessing 130 million micro-transactions/ month. These are very exciting numbers for us. It’s a beautiful evolution of new consumption and paying pattern of the Indian Consumer.

Q. An important feature distinguishing WinZO from other apps has been the availability of games in more than 10 Indian languages, with plans to launch the app in more regional languages. Can you tell us how the response has been to the app in various regional languages and which languages have seen the most activity?

PN: You mentioned it right our entire focus is to build an online place to hang out for the audience coming on smartphone for the first time. We always say it this way, we are building Netflix of Gaming for Bharat, and solving for Bharat is not going to be easy.

One of the most amazing feature of WinZO Games is that, the app being provided in vernacular languages. Adding to that, 80% of our users are playing games in non- English i.e. in their native languages, which makes WinZO a complete social gaming platform where you hang out with friends playing super casual games, use voice chatting, and meet many new people who can speak the same language and have the same gaming interests. Currently the app is functional in  10  languages on  i.e. English, Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Bhojpuri. We plan to add another 6 languages on the app by March 2020.

The team has spent a lot of time working closely with this target group building a product for them, we are always trying to understand our users better, everyday is a new learning.

Do you know people in T2 cities put money in their PayTM by giving cash to kirana store, and these store owners do this transaction on their behalf for small commission? We also learnt this in our journey. Average time spent by paid players on the platform is 55 mins, with an average overall time spent close to 45 mins. This is a testament of our continuous effort to build a great product.

Q. You had recently announced a $1.5 million fund to support Indian game developers. Can you share some details about the initiatives taken by the fund?

PN: Building the supply side is an ongoing process. We are committed to helping the game developers and studios to believe in building for India, because it makes a business case. This would require an initial support. Any sector requires influx of economy to boom, we had set aside a fund of $1.5 million to support Indian game developers keeping in mind the needs of developers as well as the users.

With this fund we are already supporting and aim to support further by giving content developers a platform to make and showcase their games and at the same time monetize it.

So far, we have received phenomenal responses from the  developers community, and we are already working with few students and gaming studios supporting them to develop games for Bharat. This response was surprisingly not restricted to just India. We will be adding more than 100 games by 2020 on the platform, to make WinZO an entertainment powerhouse.

Q. After the Series A round raised by the company from Kalaari Capital and Hike Messenger, are any more funding rounds in the pipeline? –  Will need your help in answering if we are raising/expectations, etc.

PN: We are creating a product that will tap into a multi-billion-dollar market.  In coming months, we would be responsible for creating a lot of awareness, for educating users, and catering their need to consume personalized content through a single app, becoming the go to place for all entertainment needs.

We are talking about doing this at a very massive scale to the tune of 500 Million people just in India. Reaching in every household, inside every Indian’s smartphone is definitely going to be a very challenging, exciting journey and would need not only capital but also  best talent and an ongoing learning of the consumer needs and behavior.

Q. Speaking of Hike as one of your investors, can you elaborate if there are any other synergies you are looking at any with Hike messenger given that they are also a mobile platform?

PN: Hike being a very personalized app, we are considering many synergies. However, these discussions are still at exploration stage. You can expect some developments soon.

Q. What do you see are the challenges and risks on the legal and regulatory for the online gaming industry?

PN: So far online gaming with money was also seen in context of card games. This inertia was broken to some extent by Dream11, with Fantasy coming out clear in most states. Talking of esports or casual games, this has entered as a legit new category in Asian Games.

Most Indian states, at present, permit engagement in paid games of skills. The Supreme Court has examined the legislative history and intent of Price Competition Act, 1955, and excluded games which are predominantly based on skill from the regulatory purview.

The Nagaland Online Games of Skill Act, 2016, that prohibits gambling but promotes and regularizes games of skill, lists games that qualify as virtual game of skill. The list is exhaustive and includes virtual cricket, virtual pool, virtual carom etc. This indeed would be a persuasive document for all the courts and states.

What is most important is to demonstrate and ensure that dominant factor in the game is skill and not chance. 

Q. Finally, your parting thoughts on WinZO’s expansion plans and vision for the near future and how you see the gaming?

PN: 10 million + user base in a year, this speaks a lot about our aggressive plans, and to capture the next 500 million users who are going to join the smartphone bandwagon by 2023.

At WinZO we are focusing on a very unorthodox way to capture the interest of the users.

With data rates in India cheapest across the globe and affordable Smartphone market growing, India is poised to witness a large chunk of its population shift towards smart phones. All these people are expected to consume the content. video and gaming are the two biggest entertainment channels for the Smartphone users.

We are currently committed to expand our user base in India and create a much-localized experience for the audience that is coming on the digital grid for the first time. We are also looking at a possible expansion in countries with similar economies such Indian sub-continent and South-East Asia.


Feature: MPL CEO Sai Srinivas Kiran G talks about his vision of creating India’s leading esports platform

Last year, serial entrepreneur and IIT Kanpur graduate Sai Srinivas Kiran G, along with his friend Shubham Malhotra, started an esports platform called Mobile Premier League (MPL) that hosted several games developed by third party developers on a single app.

Backed by marquee investors such as Sequoia Capital, Go Ventures and Times of India, MPL has, in a short span of one year garnered over 30 million registered users on its platforms and offers a wide variety of games such as chess, quiz, carrom, fantasy sports and rummy on a single mobile app.

In this exclusive interview, Srinivas, the company’s CEO and co-founder discusses how he and his team created an all-encompassing content-driven esports platform.

Full interview:

Q. In a short span of one year, MPL has become the leading gaming and esports platform in the country. Can you tell us a little bit about how the idea of MPL originated and the reasons for the phenomenal growth and success? 

Sai Srinivas Kiran G (Sai): My co-founder Shubh Malhotra and I would regularly discuss ideas for our next venture after our first startup got acquired. Mobile gaming presented itself as a great opportunity. There was no platform that could host games and connect game creators to gamers. And thanks to cheap data and smartphones becoming economical, gaming leapfrogged straight to people’s handsets. So you could say the idea behind MPL was to have a dedicated mobile-first gaming platform. 

You’re very kind to compliment us on our growth and success (laughs). I think the big reason why users and developers love our app is because of the ease of use. If you’re a game creator, it can take you less than 7 days to publish your game on our platform. And you start generating revenue from day 1. Similarly for users, it’s a simple yet secure process to sign up, and you can start competing and winning immediately.

Ultimately, a platform’s success is about the value it creates for its developers and users and I’m glad to say we are consistently doing that. 

Q. MPL is perhaps the only platform in the globe that has a diverse set of games ranging from chess and quiz to rummy and fantasy sports. Can you share some details on the most popular games on the MPL platform and some stats about the same?

Sai: First of all, big shoutout and kudos to our game developer community. They have been making some amazing games for our platform and we are looking forward to getting more games from them and partnering with more game creators. We have managed to get close to 40 games in total on MPL since our launch merely a year back, which is great, given the magnitude and scale of our user base.

We have a very talented tech team that works with our developers to get these games out and make the experience great for our users. We are constantly looking out for more such talented folks to join us so we can keep adding great games to our platform. 

That being said, we have had quite a few popular titles on MPL. Quiz, launched recently, saw two million games being played within the first three weeks of its launch! Our users have won close to Rs 80 lakh in total prize money too.

With these numbers, our developer partner can stand to make Rs 1 crore in revenue per year, just from this one stream. You may already know about the speed chess tournament we hosted in July, where 1.2 million games were played in 12 hours. So all kinds of games are doing well on MPL. 

Q. Apart from gaming, MPL has started other interesting initiatives like audio shows. Can you tell us more about the non-gaming initiatives that MPL is focusing on?

Sai: We are a platform driven by content. Gaming, audio, video, we are progressing towards becoming an all-encompassing platform. And going by the phenomenal response to our audio shows, this resonates with our audience. Our users have earned Rs 25 lakh hosting audio shows on MPL in the first two months of it going live. 

Q. What do you see are the challenges on the legal and regulatory for esports and online gaming and what is the best way to combat them?

Sai: I am no regulatory expert but what I can tell you is that fairness and therefore, recognition of skill is a central tenet of what we do here at MPL. We have a data driven approach to ensuring that only such games that test skills to the fullest are available on MPL.

We also have a very robust system in place now for weeding out fraudsters and making sure that the most skilled players play and win on MPL. Esports players, our ‘digital athletes’, deserve recognition at par with any other sport. They practice as hard and play to win. 

I think it’s about time the industry comes together and adopts a common standard for fairness, skill and the like, and we are working through various industry bodies on those aspects. 

Q. Finally, your parting thoughts on MPL’s plan and vision for the near future and the direction in which esports and gaming is headed in the country?

Sai: Esports in India and across the globe is on the cusp of a mainstream revolution. It looks like it could well be a medal event at the Olympics even before cricket! Given the global opportunities that are mushrooming, we at MPL believe India is poised to grab the chance. We need the right support system for esports players and developers alike. And MPL provides the platform for the entire system to grow on.

We want to keep adding to our games, making the platform a mini-app store where game creators can publish their games and users can compete and win, playing these games. Overall, we want to play our part in developing gaming and esports as a viable career option for developers and gamers alike.


AIGF releases new report on benefits of digital gaming

The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) launched an industry report ‘Online Games: A tool for learning & development’ at a launch event in New Delhi yesterday. The report highlights experts’ opinions on the positives of digital gaming and benefits of better hand-eye coordination, reduction of stress and anxiety, team building, improvement in decision making skills etc.

The industry report contains testimonials on the benefits of esports for learning and development from experts such as Ankur Diwakar-South Asian competitive esports champion; Fatima Agarkar- leading educationist; Dr. Sanju George- mental health expert; Dr. Divya Jain- mental health expert and Dr. Ishita Pateria- Counselling Psychologist.

Launching the report Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and Olympic Medallist, Mary Kom said, “While the conventional thinking is to categorise all forms of digital gaming as harmful, careful research and analysis indicates that there are many positives that accrue from Digital Sports Gaming. In today’s time, with the growing digital infrastructure, eSports can reach out to an innumerable set of people in different cities who do not have a proper sporting infrastructure and provide them with a platform to showcase their skills.”

She further added, “It is needless to mention that all gamers need to be cautioned against the overuse of online games at the expense of other physical activities.”

The report launch was followed by a panel discussion wherein experts like Fatima Agarkar (Leading Educationist & Founder – KA Edu Associates), Ishita Pateria (Counselling Psychologist & Founder – State of Mind) Lokmanyu Chaturvedi (Pro Gamer),  and Dibyojyoti Mainak (General Counsel, Mobile Premier League) gave insights on advantages of digital sport games, gaming methodologies used in teaching,  enhancement of life skills, mental aptitude, lowers stress, better hand – eye coordination, critical thinking and  psyschosocial skills through gaming etc.

Expressing his views, the moderator of the panel discussion, AIGF CEO Roland Landers said, “The proliferation of digital infrastructure, high-speed internet and growing technology have led to a tremendous growth in the online gaming industry. There are an estimated 300 million mobile gamers in India. The number of digital gaming companies has also seen a rapid rise. In digital sports gaming players like Mobile Premier League (MPL) and First Games from the Paytm stable taking the lead in driving growth in this sector.”


India Game Developers Conference to be held in Hyderabad on 22-23 November

The 11th edition of the India Game Developers Conference (IGDC), supported by the Government of Telangana and tech industry body NASSCOM is scheduled to be held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre in Telangana on 22nd and 23rd November, 2019.

The flagship event is expected to showcase the latest developments in the game industry of the Indian subcontinent and debate new trends.

The two-day event, beginning on November 22, will also discuss the inventiveness in the functions and contents in the digital entertainment industry in India.

The organisers stated the IGDC continued to attract big attention from global gaming studios, developers and gaming enterprises.

IGDC will host more than 3,000 industry professionals and 200 industry expert speakers, major tracks and will feature 10 major events, 200 expo stalls, 25 publishers and 25 investors. It will also host an exhibit for games companies across India, including their popular IGDC Awards ceremony in seven categories.

“The industry is maturing and we believe IGDC continues to be the must-attend conference to catch the latest trends, market intelligence, success stories, upskill with great talks and workshops, meet investors and of course everyone in the Indian gaming ecosystem will be there, presenting excellent networking opportunities,” said Rajesh Rao, Chairperson, India Game Developer Conference and Founder and former CEO of Dhruva Interactive.

The congregation will build, consolidate and further game advancements, smart entertainment software and hardware animation, comic, internet e-Sports, new-age entertainment and other digital entertainment in India, and establish itself as a trend indicator for the gaming ecosystem and digital entertainment industry in India.

Among the big takeaways for the participants this year will be Android, Augmented Reality, iOS, PC, Steam, Virtual Reality, and Windows gaming and development and new trends.

According to a KPMG report, esports and gaming are expected to add revenues of over $1 billion by 2021, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 per cent.

Locally developed games picked up big numbers of daily active users. Designing and exporting games too hold a great promise with an estimated annual global market of $1.7 billion within a few years, the organisers said in a press release.


Real money gaming platform WinZo secures $5 million Series A funding

Real money skill gaming platform, WinZo, which just last week announced a US$1.5 million fund to encourage local game developers, has announced that it has secured US$5 million in a Series A funding round led by Kalaari Capital and Hike Messenger.

“WinZO’s social multi-player skill gaming platform is a one-stop entertainment destination for Bharat. We have been receiving phenomenal traction, and are very excited to emerge as India’s most loved household brand for the next 100 million users,” said Paavan Nanda, the company’s CEO and co-founder in a statement.

“WinZO’s team has achieved a strong product market fit and is all set to disrupt the vernacular entertainment space. We led company’s seed round early last year, and are highly impressed with the team’s growth trajectory and strong execution,” said Rahul Garg, Principal, Kalaari Capital. 

Kalaari Capital, which has also backed India’s biggest fantasy sports website Dream11, had also participated in a seed funding round of WinZo.

Founded as a trivia quiz app two years ago by Zo Rooms and Zostel co-founder Paavan Nanda and Saumya Singh Rathore two years ago, WinZo Games (earlier known as TicTok Games) offers more than 30 real money skill games including fantasy sports, space warrior, quizzes, carrom, virtual cricket, virtual basketball etc. on its app-based platform in ten languages, namely English, Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, and Bhojpuri.

The company claims to have garnered more than seven million registered users till date and has set an ambitious target of crossing the 100 million registered users mark in the near future.


Three professional players win MPL Chess Mahayudh

Three professional chess players won the top three positions in Mobile Premier League’s recently concluded MPL Chess Mahayudh, that saw participation of over 90,000 players and a total prize pool of Rs. 11 lakhs.

18-year old Coimbatore-based chess prodigy VS Rathanvel was declared the winner of the chess mahayudh on the night of 21st July, and has been given a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs.

Rathanvel secured 253 wins out of 265 matches that he competed in over a 12 hour period. On his way to the top, he defeated grandmaster Ankit Rajpara, from Gujarat, who won 241 games.

Rajpara secured the second position and a cash reward of Rs.50,000, while defeating another young FIDE Master, from Ahmednagar, Suyog Wagh. Wagh had 238 wins and finished a mere three points away from Ankit Rajpara.

The chess mahayudh, touted as India’s biggest digital chess event had got an endorsement from India’s most recognised chess player, Viswanathan Anand, who was the tournament’s official ambassador. The tournament garnered over 3 lakh registrations and saw 90,000 players competing on the tournament day, with over 1.2 million games of chess being played over a 12 hour period.

 “For a 10 month old start up to host a Grandmaster, 2 FIDE Masters and another 90,000 players is no small feat! It was an absolute honour for us to have them play MPL and we thank them for their trust. The future of digital sports is on the mobile phone and we are happy to bring chess on our platform.”, said Sai Srinivas Kiran G, co-founder and CEO of MPL.

“I am delighted beyond words about winning MPL Chess Mahayudh. This was an incredible gaming experience and I loved the challenges posed by different players across the country. Playing chess for 12 hours straight is exhausting but I am happy I was able to maintain the momentum! I am looking forward to the next chess tournament organized by MPL,” said V.S. Rathanvel, on winning the competition. He leaves for international chess tournaments later next month and plans to use his winnings to further pursue his professional chess career.

Commenting on the tournament, second place winner Ankit Rajpara said “I played over 250 games, and I did not face a single technical issue or glitch. This has never happened before in my experience. The fairness ensured by MPL bodes well for the growth of chess in the digital era.”


Former cricket journalist starts new digital gaming portal Altletics

Nikhil Kalro, a former cricket journalist with ESPNcricinfo has started a new digital gaming and sports content company called Altletics Esports Private Limited.

The Bengaluru-based company has announced the launch of its web-based daily fantasy sports portal ‘Altletics’ (the name being derived from the word ‘Alternative Athletics’) ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

According to Kalro, Altletics is seeking to encourage more participation from users who prefer to play the free version of the game. The company is also trying to focus on having leagues with smaller number of contest entries (contests with entry sizes of 2, 3 and 5) with much smaller entry fees compared to other fantasy sports portal.

Kalro claims that the company is keen to focus on making the customer experience better and smoother with small and simple initiatives like greater cash bonuses and smaller number of entries, which increases the winning probability for users.

The bootstrapped company currently offers only cricket fantasy games on its web-based portal, but it plans to come out with the iOS and Android versions of its mobile app soon, with contests of other sports also likely to be added.

Altletics has also announced that it will be also foraying in the esports space soon. Besides fantasy sports, the company also operates a sports content and news website called Broken Cricket.

Read more about online betting and gaming in India.