Describing 2020 as a roller coaster year would be an understatement. With the year finally ending, it is probably safe to say that many people will be happy to leave it behind. The COVID-19 pandemic which led to a lockdown will stay in the minds of people even after the new year. Shutting down businesses and leaving many jobless, almost everyone felt its crushing effects. But regardless of the pandemic and the never-ending lockdowns, the year still has its noticeable ups. Especially the gaming industry, which saw an unprecedented growth during the past year. Let us take a look at some of the top stories, brilliant successes and unfortunate losses that 2020 managed to give us.
Despite the year’s infamous reputation, it didn’t start all that bad. Particularly for Rubin Labroo, who won the India Poker Championship Main Event in January. Fighting through a field of 693 entries, the 31-year-old crushed his opponent, Siddharth Mundada, in the final table and won the championship. With a payout of INR 6.6 Lakh, an INR 20 Lakh sponsorship with Spartan Poker, and a MS Dhoni limited edition Panerai watch as his reward, Labroo certainly made his mark in the poker scene with this epic win.
Even the lockdown did stop these poker brands from getting new ambassadors. PokerStars India welcomed legendary cricketer MS Dhoni into their family while Suresh Raina, another popular cricketer, joined 9stacks as their brand ambassador. With many cricketers taking an interest in poker, the addition of Dhoni and Raina to the poker scene has pushed the industry in the limelight.
Many fans of PUBG Mobile had to bid a sad goodbye to their beloved game when the Indian government decided to ban all Chinese apps in the country. PUBG Mobile’s distribution rights were owned by the Chinese company Tencent which unfortunately did not make the cut. Millions of PUBG fans across the country were not happy with the news, including Indian gamers who streamed the game on YouTube. As of November 2020, the PUBG corporation announced plans of making a comeback to the country. Hopefully, there will be some good news for PUBG fans in 2021.
Nikita Luther is the second player and the only Indian woman to win a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet. She is one of the top poker players in India and among the top 10 in Asia. With all these titles under her belt, it did not come as a surprise when Spartan Poker brought her onboard as a Pro in June this year. Aptly nicknamed the ‘Superwoman of Poker,’ Luther managed to create a mark in the poker world which is dominated by men. Her role as a Spartan Poker Pro will be to represent the brand at all major tournaments as an expert poker player.
WSOP bracelets are a huge deal in the poker industry. So, it was a huge cause for celebrations when player ‘Mandovi’ won India’s fourth WSOP bracelet. He defeated Russia’s Konstantin Maslak and won a massive USD 234,433 (INR 1.75 Crore) along with his first bracelet. Following the footsteps of previous bracelet winners like Aditya Sushant, Nikita Luther, and Abhinav Iyer, Mandovi has once again made the Indian presence evident in the global poker scene.
Since Sony Interactive Entertainment made the announcement for the successor of its popular PS4 back in 2019, gamers and gaming enthusiasts all over the world were patiently waiting for the release of PlayStation 5 (PS5). The gaming console was finally launched in November 2020, just in time for Christmas. The PS5 is a sleek black and white design and was released in two variants: a base model with an Ultra HD Blu-ray-compatible optical disc drive, and a Digital Edition for those who prefer to buy games through digital download. It was well-received by many eager fans and as well topped many people’s Christmas lists this December. With a well-timed launch and rave reviews, it looks like the PlayStation 5 was surely worth the wait.
When GGPoker announced the World Series of Poker Online Event, it was already making news for being the first WSOP to be held online in its 51 years history. This was soon overshadowed by the fact that they broke the Guinness World Record for the largest prize pool for an online tournament. The success of this event raised the initial prize pool of $25 million to $27,559,500, which was the record-breaking number. The gigantic prize pool was shared among the top 728 players in the tournament with each prize winner earning a minimum payout of $11,834. The previous record was $21,780,000 and was set by partypoker in 2018.
Online gaming in the country was badly hit when the Tamil Nadu government passed a law to ban online gaming in the state. This decision puts Tamil Nadu in the growing list of states which are slowly shutting their doors towards online gaming, with Karnataka following a close second. The rising cases of suicides and deaths related to online gaming and gambling were cited as the reason for the ban. The ordinance issued by the court stated that those found gaming illegally or operating gaming houses would be fined between INR 5000-10,000 and will face imprisonment up to two years. According to the statement, games like online rummy and poker are included in the ban. However, organizations like The Online Rummy Federation (TORF) stand opposed to the ban and are fighting for the regulation of these games.
Delta Corp Limited is the only listed company in India that runs casinos and is involved in the online gaming industry. With casinos in Goa, Daman and Sikkim, the company had been looking forward to expand its operations in Nepal as well. January 2020 brought good news for Delta Corp as they were finally given the license to operate casinos at the Marriott Hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal. This marked the company’s first venture outside the Indian gaming market, see the full story here. In December 2020, Delta Corp also announced that they would be setting up a new and integrated resort in Goa.
The launch of BLITZPOKER in India was met with great excitement among the Indian poker community. Upon its entry, the highly anticipated poker platform joined the QuadNet Poker Network which has Spartan Poker and PokerHigh on board. Dan Bilzerian being a part owner of BLITZPOKER, there is a lot of flamboyance associated with his name. He was also roped as a brand ambassador by GGPoker later in the year.