Indian Esports Athletes’ Journey to World Esports Cup 2021

Aditya Chaudhuri Aditya Chaudhuri

Here we look at Free Fire players Ashwani Yadav and Zaid Afsar and their inspiring journeys.

Ashwani Yadav aka Ignite

Team: Desi Gamers

While people called him ziddi and nalayak, he ensured nothing would come between him and his love for video gaming. This fire was ignited back in 2017 when Ashwani Yadav, a young boy from Agra, was introduced to the Free Fire game by his friend, and since that day, Ashwani aka Ignite has not looked back in life.

Yadav leads the Desi Gamers Esports team, and his YouTube channel is among the top five for Free Fire content in India with a mammoth followership of 12.3 million subscribers as of date. Despite being a sensation and having a followership one could only dream of, his only hope and wish are that one day his parents will come to see him play live.

Ashwani started playing Free Fire three months after the launch in 2017. At that time, he would use his brother’s or mother’s phone to play games. In 2019, he and his team played a professional tournament for the first time which was organised by India Today Group. After some time, Ashwani stopped playing the game, but his friend Iconic—a popular Esports player himself—pushed him to continue playing as esports continued to thrive in India.

In 2020, Ignite formed his own team ‘4 AM’, with whom he participated in multiple tournaments, which include Free Fire Pro League India, Conquest Free Fire Open, Free Fire India Championship Spring to name a few. After a gritty performance in FFIC Spring, his team’s name changed to Survivor 4 AM. As part of the Free Fire India Championship 2021 Fall, he represented India at Asian Level and led Desi Gamers to a fourth-place finish.

Coming from a family of police officers, Ashwani choosing gaming as a career didn’t go well with his parents, who thought their son had got into some deadly internet addictions. While they wanted him to study and choose a better career for himself, Ashwani had other plans. The journey wasn’t easy and there was no dearth of setbacks as he aimed for the top as a Free Fire player in India. He has also represented his team in some key international tournaments and is now a pro in Free Fire competitions.

Talking about the Tri-Nation World Esports Cup (WEC’21), Ashwani aims to ignite a similar passion among other gamers and feels the ability of our gamers to be good in both offence as well as defence, which will help Indian gamers to have an upper hand against the gamers from Nepal who are primarily very defensive players, while the ones from Pakistan only believe in attacking.



Zaid Afsar

Team: Black Flag Army

Hailing from Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Zaid lost his father at a very young age and grew up mostly being looked after by his mother. He is currently pursuing a degree in B. Com.

Zaid’s first brush with video games happened in 2018 as he found himself playing games casually for fun with friends and classmates on mobiles. It was around this time only that he came across the Free Fire tournament one day on YouTube.

Afsar soon understood the nuances of the game and started participating in tournaments. The starting was difficult, but Zaid’s resilience ensured he could not only play tournaments with his slow and low-end mobile but win them too. While bad network and lag would continue to plague him, it didn’t stop his commitment toward becoming an esports player.

In a span of six months, Afsar had managed to win ?35,000 as prize money from various online tournaments and was finally able to buy a high-end smartphone for his matches. With irregular income and financial challenges at home, however, Zaid had the challenging task of always convincing his mother and buying more time to prove his abilities in gaming.

In recent years as he started earning handsomely, and when everything seemed fine in life, a huge setback struck him again. Ahead of the COVID pandemic, Zaid had shifted to using an emulator for gaming, but things changed drastically when the emulator got banned in February 2020. There were no matches, and his teams had disbanded with everything coming to a standstill, and so did Zaid’s earnings.

It came to a point where he had mentally decided to quit gaming and start working in his hometown, but as fate would have it, Zaid came across some quality gamers online and restarted his esports career with a brand new team, Black Flag Army. As a team, their first official tournament was the Free Fire City Open where they finished second in state qualifiers and third in the Finals, just one point short of second place. The team’s name is dedicated to his online mentor, who he is yet to meet physically, but he is confident of a great show at the World Esports Cup 2021 and is surely aiming for a top-class performance.


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Aditya Chaudhuri

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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