CobX Press Conference— In Dialogue with Bleh

Sudhen "Bleh" Wahengbam

CobX held a splendid press conference at Westin a day before the commencement of the tournament. Although we were fifteen minutes late to the party, we had reached just in time to catch a glimpse of some of the talents who had wonderfully entertained the media representatives and responded to their queries most politely. Although we were not given the opportunity to take exclusive interviews, we are thankful to CobX for presenting us with this opportunity as we were able to extract some valuable opinions which in turn gave us an incentive to construct this piece. Since time was short and we had only landed in Bombay a few hours preceding the event at Westin, we had little time to prepare questions and thus, had to create them on the spot. Also imperative is it for the readers to understand that the talents were only present there for a very limited amount of time, as a result of which, this article may appear to fall short on quantity. However, feeling that the answers we’d received were incredibly deep, we decided to assemble and publish them.

Our interviewee this time is Sudhen “Bleh” Wahengbam. Here are a few questions we had for him:


What is your opinion on regional orthodoxy against video games especially in India and other countries in South Asia?

I think it’s a little outdated today. So, if you look at, like, many people talk about parents and them not allowing their children to play. But if you look at the West, Europe, NA, that’s a very similar mentality they had a few years back as well. The thing is, the kids- they need to be more independent as individuals. Like fine, you finish your school, finish your college, what not, be independent, get a job, and try to do your thing at the same time. And if you can make that happen, I think, the parents won’t really have anything to see. But most of the kids I’ve spoken to would be like, “Yeah, I don’t wanna study, I don’t wanna go to college, I don’t wanna work, I wanna play and my parents aren’t supporting me”. No parents [would] support them. Like, if I had a kid, I’d be like, “stop playing, you know, study, do something useful.”

I think the biggest problem in India is like, they always think its esports only and nothing else. They all must look at it black and white, so you can probably balance your life better. So, I don’t wanna blame the parents alone. I think its both. The kids need to be more mature and balance their life better and then the parents will look at them. That’s how you convert them, or else, no parent’s gonna be like, “Oh yeah, play games the rest of your life, hope you get lucky.”

Even kids who play cricket, they’re not playing cricket 24/7, they’re playing and studying at the same time. And they might get lucky, they might join IPL, they might join the Ranji team or the National team but many of them don’t. But they have a backup plan. They do engineering, become a doctor, whatever. Doesn’t matter right? And that’s a problem over here in India. As a fact that most of these kids, they don’t wanna study, they don’t wanna really do anything else. They only wanna play-play and play, and [a] very few of them, one out of a million is gonna really make it. So, the risk is just not worth it. So, I think it’s both sides. The parents need to be more understanding but they’re only gonna get more understanding when the kids are more mature.

From what you said, do you mean that a career in esports, is not a viable standalone option at the moment?

I think it is getting there. But hedging all your bets, all your entire future based on that, I don’t think is a smart idea. Not just in India but anywhere in the world. You play, you balance your life and if it works out, if you finally get signed, you get a salary assigned by a team, then you decide, “Okay, I’ll go full-time. I’ll stop my job or my studies temporarily.” But I think it’s not just an India-centric problem, I think it’s all around the world. You just can’t jump into any sport, not just esports, any sport and think that: “Oh, I’m gonna be a pro in that.” Sometimes it’s just not good enough. What happens then, that’s a problem.

What is your opinion on government regulations over what and what should not enter into the country? Not just in countries like China, but a similar thing is being felt in India now. Don’t you think that potentially hampers the growth of esports?

I think there are two sides to that point. If you look at South Korea, the best country in terms of esports at least. Korea is called the mecha of esports. It was the first country to legitimise esports, made it a big and massive thing over there. And the thing is, even though many people think government regulation and control over esports is a good thing, it’s good and bad. It can be bad as well. That allows a lot of corruption to happen, it happened with KeSPA recently. There was some corruption in KeSPA, which is the governing body of esports in Korea. And also, we have scenarios where there’s too much government control. What happens is new and upcoming companies who wanted the government to do whatever with new games coming in, it becomes a big pain in the butt, so to speak. That could lead to a kind of monopoly, which always hurts the scene. So, I think government regulations are about educating the masses. People need to start accepting esports as a thing. It is a thing, it’s not a fad, it’s been there for a long time. It’s just us catching up to the rest of the world.

You look at China, yes, the government has been supporting them a lot which is a good thing. So, like I said, in Korea, we saw the bad aspects of what happened. It was just one body controlling everything which was necessarily not right. So, I think it’s two things. Firstly, we gotta target the audience primarily. When it comes to government, what they can do to help the scene is like for example, esports visas where people can fly in and have no trouble, you know, flying down as esports athletes. That’s happening right now in the United States of America, which is a great thing. So people are having no trouble flying down there. If you look at China, for example, there are so many Dota 2 events and CS events but people are not able to travel because of these problems and what not. So, that’s what I think the government could do. They could legitimise it, they could make it much easier for esports events to happen.

For example, prize money in India comes under gambling. So, there’s a huge tax on that which could be a problem for the players. It’s not gambling, we know that. But the government doesn’t know that. So, for them to change the aspects for when it comes to prize money and taxation on that, number one, and number two, they can do like visas and stuff like that, that’d be great. But personally speaking, I wouldn’t want it to be too much controlled and regulated by the government. Like saying, “These games are allowed, these games are not allowed.” I don’t think that should ever be the case because that’s only gonna hurt the scene in the long term.

The conference ended with a sumptuous lunch. All the media representatives were presented with paper bags containing documents relating to the event and a few other materials. Although hilariously enough, we were highly amused to see that the papers had in them ludicrous hyperlinks. The sight of that compelled us to joke about it all the way back to our hotel. As we closed in towards Andheri, the towering heights of Bombay slowly loomed out of vision and we wondered what the main event would have in store for us the next day. The follow-up, CobX Masters 2019- A Critical Point of View.

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