PUBG Mobile quickly became extremely popular in India when it was released in 2018. The game reportedly had over 50 million monthly active users in the country in late 2020. With such a huge player base, India was a major focus for the game’s esports scene and roped in hundreds of thousands of viewers.
This was all cut off, however, when the Indian government banned PUBG Mobile for data privacy concerns on Sept. 2, 2020. It dealt a major hit to the game’s overall player base and effectively ended PUBG Mobile esports in the country.
The game made a comeback as Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) in July 2021, though. While PUBG Mobile was released by Tencent, BGMI has been published by South Korean company Krafton, owner of the PUBG IP.
Ever since its release, there has been a lot of speculation about a return to esports. Krafton hosted its first competition, The Launch Party, in July, with top creators and teams being invited to the tournament. Shortly after, it announced the Battlegrounds India Series (BGIS) featuring open qualifiers and a prize pool of Rs. 10,000,000 (about $134,000).
With this, a lot of players have been wondering if BGMI will be a part of the global PUBG Mobile esports roadmap. In China, too, PUBG Mobile is available as a different game called Peacekeeper Elite due to the country’s strict regulation laws. While China has a different esports roadmap for the game compared to the rest of the world, the top teams have a way to qualify for the PUBG Mobile Global Championship (PMGC) and other international events.
However, when the 2021 PMGC’s format was announced last month, it was revealed that no Indian team will be competing in the league stage despite the release of BGMI.
Dot Esports asked Tencent’s director of PUBG Mobile esports, James Yang, about this, who revealed that it wasn’t completely up to the company.
“I don’t think that’s a question I can answer, it should be answered by Krafton,” Yang said. “I personally hope India came back to our ecosystem.”
India is yet to see an official fully fledged esports competition for BGMI. While the BGIS was announced in July, the tournament was subsequently delayed for undisclosed reasons. Krafton recently announced it will be conducting the anticipated tournament in December and January.
“The BGIS was delayed and without it, I can’t say too much,” Yang added.
A Krafton spokesperson didn’t respond to requests for comment on this article.
Fans are still hopeful of seeing an Indian team in the PMGC, though. In the finals, which will take place on Jan. 21 to 23, Tencent has revealed that one team will be invited. Yang refused to comment on the invited slot and told Dot Esports that this invited team will be revealed soon.
It’s no surprise Tencent wants to see India rejoin the global esports roadmap. The last official competition for PUBG Mobile was the first season of the PMPL South Asia in May 2020. It peaked at 285,499 viewers, according to Esports Charts. When Indian teams were restricted from competing in the second season due to the game’s ban, this number fell to just 42,411 viewers.