FIFA titles are pretty much a cultural phenomenon in India. Almost every PlayStation user in India has purchased a FIFA game at some point of time. However, there have only been a few who have taken it a step further and made it their career.
The competitive FIFA scene continues to grow in the country with the best players scaling new heights globally.
Here are some of India’s top FIFA professionals in 2021.
Lokmanyu is a well-known figure in the professional FIFA circuit in India. “For me, FIFA is everything at this point of my life. I’ve given it four years already and I wish to become a world champion one day and represent my country at the highest level in FIFA eSports,” he says.
“My biggest achievement in FIFA came this year with me getting selected for the first-ever Indian eNational Team that participated in the FIFA eNations Series. It’s an extremely proud feeling to represent my country till next year,” says Lokmanyu.
He is a two-time Vice National Champion of India and has won more than 35 tournaments, including four ESL India Open cups. And he continues to be hungry and ambitious for more success. “My goal is to become one of the best FIFA players in the world and work with the best organisations to build an infrastructure for FIFA in India,” says Lokmanyu.
Quite a few esport professionals get hooked to FIFA while casually playing with friends. And when they realize their skill level, they decide to take it up as a career. Aditya was one such gamer.
“My FIFA story started like everyone else's; playing with some friends and chilling. It was then that I realised that I was pretty good at it and explored the competitive side of FIFA esports,” he says. “I am a big football fan and FIFA provides me with a virtual experience of playing the sport, which is why I enjoy the game so much.”
Aditya placed third in his inaugural ESL India Premiership tournament, one of the top leagues in the country. Soon after, he placed second in its fall season of the tournament and then won in the summer season. He ranked 19th in the FIFA Global Series for West Asia and also finished third in the virtual Bundesliga Asia region.
“My only aim is to be at the top and I'm looking to grind and improve my game so that I can be at the top consistently and qualify for the FIFAe World Cup next season,” Aditya says about his plans for the future.
A relatively new entrant to FIFA’s professional circuit in India, Charanjot never knew he would play professionally. “I just went to a local tournament in Chandigarh (Road to Russia) in 2018 and ended up winning the whole thing. There, I realised that maybe this could turn into a career,” he says.
“FIFA is the only video game that lets us be in control of the players and teams we love and make them play the way we want to. Being a Chelsea fan no matter what happens in real football, I can buy the best players in the world and make them win all the trophies [for my favourite team],” says Charanjot.
He has enjoyed success in recent years and is looking to build on it. “Despite all the challenges, 2020 was a very good year for me professionally as I won every single tournament I played in as well as got signed by ConnectIN Esports,” he says.
Charanjot is now looking to make it to the regional play-offs of the FIFA Global Series - West Asia region and book his place at the FIFAe Club World Cup in London.
Another mainstay of Indian FIFA, Saransh got into the competitive scene in November 2017 at the age of 16. And he soon dominated the local scene. “There was a tournament in Pune, which I attended with my brother without many expectations. I ended up winning it and went on a great winning streak in Pune. I also started competing online which made me realise [I can play professionally],” says Saransh.
Some of his successes include winning AFGC India 2018 and representing India in the Singapore leg of the same tournament where he finished top-12, and winning the Virtual Bundesliga 2018 and representing India at the VBL International Series in Germany where he finished 2nd.
“Arguably, winning an international tournament in Maldives (King of Games Cup) has to be my biggest feat as I went into the tournament with a lot of expectations and it felt good to have achieved them,” he says.
He’s now focusing on content creation in the hope of partnering with Twitch and wants to make it to the playoffs of the World Cup.
“I used to just play with friends, but during my second year of college, I participated in a tournament where I narrowly finished second. I met the then Indian representative of the FIFA Electronic Sports World Cup who pushed me to take this seriously and compete more,” Saksham says about how he took up competitive FIFA.
He is now one of the more consistent players in the Indian circuit with various victories since he turned pro last two years.
Saksham won his first international FIFA tournament in Malaysia (FAS eSports Championship 2019) after a tough qualification from India; he considers this his greatest achievement so far.
“This year I'm ranked 20th in the official FIFA rankings for West Asia, which is arguably the second most competitive region after Europe,” he says. He narrowly missed out on qualifying for two global events by one win and missed a playoff spot by a few positions in the rankings. He is aiming to achieve those next season.
Siddh got started in FIFA because of his love for football. When competitive FIFA began emerging around 2017, Siddh began attending tournaments and realised he had the necessary talent to do it full time. A year later, he signed to Mesut Ozil’s M10esports becoming the second Indian to sign to an international organisation.
“I’m currently one of the four players to be a part of the Indian eNational Squad. My teammate Charanjot and I finished third at the FIFA eNations series 2021 in India’s first ever official event. Winning the Mumbai esports championship, Virtual Bundesliga Delhi and Studs eSports championship are some of the highlights of my career so far,” he reminisces. He now aims to make it to the FIFA eWorld Cup next season and is also working as a content creator.
Sean John is a veteran of India’s scene having started from FIFA 2004. “Football is my favourite sport so it was just logical to pick FIFA as my favourite game,” he says. Since then, he has picked up the trophy at Video Game Fest Bangalore alongside Top FUT Champs finishes for FIFA 17 and FIFA 18. He’s also been a runner-up at AFGC twice besides also being in the Top 100 of the FIFA Global Series West Asia qualifiers.
Right now, Sean is looking forward to the release of FIFA 22 and further sharpening his skills. He also hopes to better his results in national and international competitions.