Naga pro gamer ‘Padling’ making a mark in eSports

‘I am happy that all the time that I spent on gaming hasn’t been wasted’

Imlisanen Jamir
Dimapur | October 15  

There’s an image out there somewhere in the internet of a hugely popular NFL player walking around unrecognized in a convention center packed with thousands of people. He smiles unbothered as masses flock to get pictures with three teenagers with scruffy hair and t-shirts, who look nothing like sports celebrities.  

This image portrays the steady foray that e-sports is making into the world of traditional sport, bringing along with it a new and young fan-base with never before seen demeanours and deportments. This is the world of competitive gaming, which over the past several years has received substantial backing from corporate giants, owing to its large fan-base across the world.  

23 year old Pedelhouto Nagi from Kohima is one gamer who hopes to make a name for himself in this emerging sport. Pede, as he is called by friends, or ‘Padling,’ as he is known through his gamer tag; is currently studying for his Bachelors of Technology degree in Bangalore.  

Pede, who started gaming at a very young age, recently won an event in a national level e-Sports championship, called ‘The Dew Arena’ which is held every year. This event, backed by major corporate sponsors, is the largest and most coveted eSports tournament of India, with this year’s prize pool being Rs 20 Lakhs.  

Pede won first place, as part of a team called ‘Aggressive 5,’ in a Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) called Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2).  

Speaking to The Morung Express, Pede recalled: “As far as I know I started playing video games back during my school days, where I spent my time in computer cafes.”  

On his journey from a casual gamer into the competitive scene, he described: “Over all it was an awesome journey. I started playing just for fun, but now I’m currently earning. And I am happy that all the time that I spent on it hasn’t been wasted.”  

Pede added that over time, as his Match Making Ranking (MMR) increased in DOTA 2, people started calling him to form or join teams. Subsequently, he began participating in the competitive eSports scene.  

He described his first Local Area Network (LAN) tournament as “a disaster.” His nerves got the better of him during his first tournament, he stated, however expressing confidence that he is now past that nervy start.  

Explaining a bit more about his recent win, Pede informed that this was his “biggest achievement” till now in e-Sports.  

“To get to the main event you have to play qualifiers and fight for the top 4 slots. Only the top 4 teams will be able to attend the main event and there are lots of teams. I played under a team Known as ‘Aggressive 5’. I really love this team. They are really friendly and we are evenly skilled in the game. My road with them was awesome and I hope to achieve more under this team.”  

While he is still continuing his studies, Pede hopes to take his professional gaming career further. “It’s really hard doing both studies and gaming because those two don’t sync at all. Sometimes I hardly get time to play,” he stated. However Pede revealed that he manages to juggle between the two.  

“To be a professional gamer… it’s my dream, since it’s been a part of my life since I was 16.”  

The Rise of eSports

Playing video games for a living might sound like a cushy job. Slumber out of bed, log into the computer, grab some crisps and start playing and win as the dough pours in! Not so.  

The eSports scene is becoming fiercely competitive, requiring a high level of skill to even make a tiny mark. This is being fuelled by huge revenues that the sport is generating. The eSports global audience grew from 204 million to 292 million between 2014 and 2016 -- a 43% increase in just two years -- and it’s projected to exceed 427 million around the world by 2019.  

Global revenue in the eSports industry rose from $194 million to $463 million in the same period—a 239% increase –and is expected to smash $1 billion by 2019.  

While the sport has now been mostly confined to private events backed by corporations, recently the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat kicked off its first ever eSports competition as global interest surges in video games as a spectator sport.  

The inclusion of eSports as a demonstration sport in the event hosted by the isolated Central Asian state ushers in a “new era in gaming,” the organisers said.  

Pede admits that it is hard to succeed in eSports. “Competitive gaming world is freaking awesome. You get to know lots of people. But the road is not easy at all. Unless you are fully dedicated or fully into it, you are not going to go far,” he stated.  

He added that as a career, eSports, like any other sport, requires a lot of hardwork and dedication. “In the esports world no one stays at the top for a long time,” he said, adding that “ups and downs are very common.”  

Gaming concerns

Despite the increasing popularity of eSports, there has also been a lot of criticism levied on the sport. Issues ranging from health concerns to ethical conundrums on free speech and sexism have all been raised.  

Pede acknowledged these issues and stated: “Personally I have a different view on gaming. It’s a way to pass time as well as a serious thing for me. Such is life for me. But I got to know many things through it.”  

“I understand their perspective,” he added, however supplementing that “only gamers can understand what goes inside our world. It’s very hard for others to understand.”   He however does advocate healthy gaming. “You can play games but don’t waste all your time in it if you’re not good at it. Everyone has different skills.”  

To those who want to get into competitive gaming, Pede’s advice is: “Have confidence; trust yourself. Even if you lose, just take it as a lesson and come back stronger.”  

“Playing videos games was my hobby ever since I was 5 or 6. Still, that is what keeps me happy. Now I am 23 but the inner me is still a kid,” he concluded.