INTERVIEW

I want to make everyone respect the sport

Ankur Diwakar, eSports athlete

87-ankur-diwakar Ankur Diwakar

How did you get into gaming?

It has been a long, stimulating road. It all started in 2007, when I started gaming professionally. Back in those days, gaming was considered gambling. We had minimal internet access and everyone asked me to stop gaming and concentrate on my career. Initially, all we had were local and college tournaments. I won a few and learnt more about the game meeting other people in the same niche. But, this wasn’t enough to convince my parents. I had to take it to next level. I doubled my practise hours and bunked every possible class. It took me a few years to make a name in the industry, and finally a leading newspaper wrote about my accolades. [After that], my parents never asked any questions.

Most non-gamers think eSports is too easy.

As a kid, I thought cricket was easy, but when I faced a 150kmph leather ball, it cleared my doubts and a couple of my teeth. Jokes apart, everything is easy if you are doing it casually. But, if you enter the competitive side of any sport, it is never easy.

Which games do you specialise in?

FIFA is love, but I play other games as well. I have recently won India’s first gaming show, U Cypher on MTV, playing Tekken 7. I had practised only for two months, but I left everything else for that time. I was also the undisputed champion in PES (Pro Evolution Soccer) in 2017. That made me the most versatile gamer in India, winning three majors in three different games in one year. I’m practising new games as well. You will hear about it soon.

There are people who believe eSports should not be called a sport.

I have been playing professionally for more than a decade with one vision—to make everyone respect the sport. People say eSports is a sport of the future, but I say it is a sport of today. Professional teams and players are competing for millions of dollars in front of millions of fans. How is it not a sport?

Do you work out to improve your game?

Gaming is 50 per cent mental and 50 per cent physical. So, it is important to work out to stay at your best. My mom is an international yoga instructor and that really helps me keep my meditation game on point. Also, gaming involves a lot of sitting, and endurance training is important. Before my match, I always do stretching, which involves finger exercises and deep breathing to calm myself. Many players ignore this and that is what costs them.