Mumbai Marshals emerged as champions in the inaugural edition of Esports Premier League (ESPL) 2021. The country’s first-ever franchise-based esports league, which witnessed high-octane competition of Free Fire matches, concluded in a nail-biting finale. The mega prize distribution ceremony took place at a city hotel on Monday in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Mr. Manish Sisodia and Ms. Kalli Purie, Vice Chairperson, India Today Group, as the champions and the runner-ups were handed over the trophies and the cash awards.
After two and a half months of virtual competition, two of the most impressive and skilled teams from the league stage, Bangalore Ballistics and Mumbai Marshals, locked horns in a thrilling grand finale. A neck to neck competition saw the Mumbai team getting past the opposition for the prestigious title. The ESPL season 1 champions, Mumbai Marshals have some top players in its roster including Sagar Patel, Indranil Saha, Jayesh Yadav, Naitik Khosto and Asjad Khateeb, who also grabbed the Most Valuable Player award. For his impressive show throughout the tournament, Jayesh Yadav aka Mr Jay from Mumbai Marshals, with 74 kills, was named as the player of the tournament along with an award of ₹30,000.
“It was like a festival of esports, playing out in the last couple of months. There was an overwhelming response coming from all over the country. The gamers showcased their A-game and the competition was nothing short of top class. I hope these athletes will further utilise this experience and win medals for the country in the coming time,” said Mr. Vishwalok Nath, Director, ESPL.
“We, at ESPL, are committed to revolutionising the Indian esports ecosystem and we are very proud to announce our next big esports IP, World Esports Cup. We are thankful to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Manish Sisodia who unveiled the logo of this upcoming championship. We believe this tournament will also help us to contribute to making India a global esports powerhouse. We are also thankful to all our sponsors and stakeholders for their support and belief. This is just the beginning of a new era,” Nath further added.
With more than 100 million video views and one million-plus registration for the ESPL 2021, eight teams, representing eight cities/states, were finally chosen for the finals at the end of the third round after a highly competitive final stage of the league. The group matches were followed by knockout rounds where 96 teams participated. The eight teams that made it through the knockout finals were assigned one franchise team each. The list of franchise teams included Mumbai Marshals, Rajasthan Reapers, Bangalore Ballistics, Hyderabad Hydras, Chennai Celestials, Delhi Dukes, Punjab Paladins and Kolkata Kaijus. The tournament saw a massive prize pool of ₹25 lakh with a cash prize award to all the top-8 teams. The Mumbai team took home the major share of ₹12 lakh from the prize money.
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Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, while addressing the ESPL winners and players, said, “Esports now is growing very fast. I am convinced that this “E” sport deserves all the support and recognition. I promise that the Delhi government will encourage esports in every possible manner. We will be happy to encourage all the initiatives that will help the industry and the sector to grow.”
ESPL 2021, which had Infinix smartphone as the presenting sponsor, was played under the aegis of gamer-centric campaign #ESPLGameSeFame with Tiger Shroff as the inimitable brand ambassador that encouraged players to showcase their top game and get recognised in the industry. The tournament also saw a huge response and was streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar, Free Fire official streaming platform Booyah and Malayalam OTT platform Koode alongside official YouTube and Facebook channels of India Today and Aaj Tak and its websites.
ESPL marks the beginning of an annual, nationwide Esports tournament by India Today Group. As one of India’s largest esports tournaments, ESPL is India’s first-ever franchise-based esports league for Free Fire. As the game suggests, India Today Gaming has teamed up with Garena to organise its inaugural edition most popular battle royale game, Free Fire from 16 June. It is one of the most popular battle royale smartphone games in India. The tournament will be played over a period of two and a half months with 88 teams from thousands going to Level 2.
ESPL will also invite the top 8 professional Free Fire Esports teams to the fold. These 96 teams will compete for the final 8 slots to represent eight regions across the country including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and the states of Punjab, and Rajasthan. ESPL has also partnered with Hong Kong-based smartphone giant Infinix Mobile as the presenting sponsor for the 2021 edition. The tournament is streaming on multiple platforms including OTT giant Disney+ Hotstar, Free Fire official streaming platform Booyah, Malayalam OTT platform Koode, the official YouTube and Facebook channels of India Today and Aaj Tak along with their websites.
Donna Amo is a writer at Gutshot Magazine. She is a graduate from Sophia College of Women, Mumbai with a degree in English Literature. When this October born foodie is not writing content or poetry, she spends her time laughing at memes or watching series. Based out of Mizoram, she is drawn to all things nature and has a soft spot for puppies.
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