Globally, the e-sports gaming market is estimated to be over USD 500-600 million with over 2000 teams consistently participating in tournaments. Gaming in India is a different story, however. The general perception of ‘gaming’ in India is linked to ‘casual entertainment’ not ‘competitive’ and most certainly not a ‘sport.’ But, this is set to change, courtesy Ucypher. Thou shalt not speak lowly of gamers anymore!
Ucypher is India’s first of its kind multi-game e-sports championship, conceptualized by U Sports. The Unilazer Ventures owned U Sports has structured Ucypher as a league format with six teams, 84 players, offering 1000 hours of E-sports. The combat zone orbits around four games – Counter Strike: GO and Dota 2 on PC, Tekken 7 on PS4 and Real Cricket 2017 on mobile.
Cricket and football leagues are all too popular; now kabaddi and badminton leagues are also getting there, armed with support from achievers and the stars of the game. But, for an e-sports league, the story is yet to be written in India. Gaming isn’t even considered a sport. So, how does one position ‘gaming’ as a sport?
Ucypher partnered with creative agency Sparkt that simply explored this insight as a problem statement to help craft a proposition. A brand proposition that Ucypher could own – ‘Naya Sport Naye Superstars.’ that demonstrated the opportunity to elevate ‘gaming’ to a ‘sport’, and ‘gamers’ to ‘celebrated athletes’.
The intent with Ucypher was to be democratic and accessible to India beyond the metros. Also, it accommodated both ambition and intent of brand Ucypher, as the thought leader in the space.
The stage was set, but the challenge was now to bring in the audience. Sparkt drew inspiration from the behaviour that tribes exhibit especially when formed around a shared passion. Cohorts that are identified by their own unique lingo, rituals, badges and acceptance filters.
‘Naya Sport Naye Superstars’ leveraged the power of relevant content, along with celebrities in the gaming domain. The critical aspect of content creation was to be cognisant of what’s ‘cool’ in the gamers universe.
Ucypher was first introduced in the form of 3 promos and digital cuts released across the brand’s social assets and MTV. The films have been conceptualized and executed by Taxi films. The communication drew excitement with exaggerated situations that flipped everything conventional and traditional to introduce the new e-sports phenomenon and the new athletes into the celebrated mainstream.
— José Covaco (@HoeZaay) January 19, 2018
Leveraging the momentum, team pages were announced on Facebook. Each page lets fans enjoy the progress of the team. Captain intro’s were captured as byte sized content to create excitement, as a first step towards manifesting the league structure.
To elevate Ucypher to a tribe, a ritual was crafted in the form of a signature move – ‘Do the Cypher’. Fans got a chance to showcase their love by recreating the move, stimulating conversations and relevant reach across platforms.
The Ucypher Instagram page featured gaming trivia and content that resonated with gamers.
Our country lacks a competitive e-sporting culture. Gamers seldom gain respect or recognition, whereas athletes of other sports are a revered lot. For Ucypher, building a gaming culture is a task at hand, and together with Sparkt, the brand has ensured that it builds a community of gamers around Ucypher. Elevating the games to a competitive sport might be a long way to go, but nevertheless, it is on its way to building superstars along with a youth brand like MTV.
The approach and treatment given to understanding the gaming community and share content that resonates with them, is commendable in Ucypher Naya Sport Naye Superstars. The anthem videos, gaming trivia, individual Facebook pages for each of the teams enables gamers and fans alike to bring alive the positioning of Ucypher as the naya phenomenon.
For the country’s very first e-sports championship, Ucypher sure has the first mover advantage, but it also is shouldered with the responsibility of nurturing a gaming community. Naya Sport Naye Superstars is a promising start.