ESL One Mumbai 2019 starts tomorrow, but India’s first major esports event has had a rough start.
The tournament is one of the first large-scale esports events to be hosted in the country, and the first Dota 2 event to be held in Mumbai. However, due to five teams dropping out of the event on April 10, the format of the event had to be changed, as well as TEAM TEAM being added as last-minute replacements.
Ninjas in Pyjamas, Alliance, Gambit Esports, J.Storm, and Chaos Esports Club all withdrew from the tournament last week. In their wake, all the remaining teams will now have a chance to compete in the playoff bracket, rather than the bottom two teams being eliminated in the group stage.
It’s speculated that many teams have withdrawn from the event to focus on the OGA Dota PIT Minor, which starts a day after the event ends.
As if the dropouts weren’t enough of a problem, on April 12, Jet Airways canceled all international flights, affecting teams, organizational staff, and fans.
With the dropouts and prep-time affected by travel delays, there’s a concern that the quality of the tournament has been compromised. However, from a fan perspective, this may be a chance to see teams which haven’t had past success finally take home some victories.
Chinese powerhouse Keen Gaming are favorites to win, especially with their most significant opposition, Gambit, absent from the event. And for Natus Vincere and Complexity, this is their chance to move out of the shadow of the teams which have dominated past majors. Despite the initial problems, ESL One Mumbai still has the potential to be a solid event.