Saturday, June 25, 2022

India’s Exclusion From The 2022 Pokemon Unite Championship Series Is Frustrating

Pokemon Unite recently announced its 2022 Championship Series, with its qualifying rounds kicking off on February 19. A total of seven regional zones will battle it out for a prize pool of over $1,000,000. However, despite having a considerable fan base for the franchise and player base for Pokemon Unite itself, India has not been included in the list of countries eligible for the series, leaving fans frustrated and ignored. In fact, the list doesn’t include any country from the South Asian region at all.

India has always had a soft spot for Pokemon. Back in the early ’00s, TCG cards could be found in concealed pockets of every school kid’s backpack, with designated trading areas and secret playing spots marked out to avoid the prying eyes of teachers. The Pokemon anime became so popular that it was localized into Hindi to appeal to a wider audience. Fast forward a couple of years and you’ll see that India ranks third among countries with the most Pokemon Go downloads, behind only the USA and Brazil. The fanbase is there, but the recognition isn’t.


The exclusion from the Pokemon Unite 2022 Championship Series has left a bad taste for fans who’ve adored the franchise since the days when scoring a regular Charizard in a TCG pack was considered a life goal. Many of them have taken to Twitterusing ‘#whynot_INDIA’ while tagging various Pokemon and Nintendo handles to vent their frustration about not being recognized as a major region despite decades of dedication.

RELATED: India Is The Perfect Setting For A Pokemon Game

Besides fans, the snub was a disappointment to esports organizations as well. A handful of these organizations have experimented with Pokemon Unite competitions, but they remain primarily for amateur players. It needs the recognition from the powers that be to attract pro players and truly get up and running.

However, some remain optimistic that India’s turn will come soon enough. “While Pokemon Unite does have a sizable fan base in India, it is unfortunate to see India not being included in the Asia Pacific regional zone at the recently announced Championship Series,” Penta Esports founder and CEO Anurag Khurana says in a statement to TheGamer.

“However, the countries in the aforementioned APAC zone are more mature markets in terms of esports and likely that is the primary for their inclusion at the inaugural event. I believe the organizers will take notice of the markets and make India a part in the future .”

Zarude---via Netflix

In fact, there’s also a theory that suggests India might be the inspiration for the next major Pokemon release. As our features editor Ben Sledge put it, Zarude’s Mythical design is evocative of Indian fashion. He suggests that Game Freak could be hinting at the series’ next region, one that’s littered with Copperajah and various biomes. So if India can get a nod in Pokemon canon, the real life fan base can surely get one as well.

Developers and publishers have for long looked at India as this mythical land with a magical resource called “potential”. But the truth is we’re really here, there’s a lot of us, and we’re ready for the big leagues. Sure, it’ll take a while to get to the same level as behemoths like CS:GO, Dota 2, the recently banned Garena Free Fire, and the game formerly known as PUBG – Nintendo also hasn’t penetrated the market quite like Sony has managed to – but the fanbase and mobile-centric audience is there, all Pokemon needs to do is recognize it.

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