How Elite Offtopic, a Facebook group became one of the most integral part of Indian esports scene

by November 15, 2019 0 comments

We got hold of Jai Desai, one of the owner and founders of Elite Groups, to answer a few questions for us. If you are an avid Gamer in the Indian scene, you already know what I am talking about. For the rest, Elite Groups are some of the largest groups for gamers in India. The Elite collective runs a total of three Facebook groups; Elite Offtopic Group, Elite Gamers Hub and Elite Gamers Store. These groups have a total of 75,000 members, of which Elite Offtopic has 50,000. And to get into groups, you have to be a gamer, as the admins will check your social media account and disapprove any request to join the group from non gamers.

What makes this group special is that it has now become something far more than just a facebook group. Elite Offtopic is now the place where every gaming related grievance is actually heard. Due to the sheer size of the community, and also the presence of influential gaming personalities in the group, anyone can be made or broken from a single post. There have been multiple instances where a post uncovered a scam or brought malpractices of a hardware company to light. On the other hand, many streamers and influencers found their audiences in this very group.

Now the people behind the group are going one step further and have started to conduct on ground events which have seen massive attendance, not to mention conducted in house online tournaments which saw a massive influx of viewers. Their Elite CS:GO Community cup had more than 125,000 views and reached more than 300,000 gamers. They also conducted an event at DreamHack Mumbai where hundreds of people from the group showed up.

How did you come up with the idea of Elite Group? Why the name, Elite?

Back in the days buying PC Games for cheap seemed to be a blessing in disguise. There were a few facebook groups where Indian Gamers would purchase their games for cheaper rates. Our idea was to formulate something like G2A but something which was based off Facebook because that is where our friends were. At that time, Gaurav Gupta, Abhi Goyal, Ankush Sethi, Preet Arora and Me decided to start our own group which we could turn into a mainstream PC Game Marketplace. 

After a while, our members also started discussions which were not gaming related ( off-topic, as you may call them ). We realized the need to have a different discussions group/platform where these discussions could be done and that led to the creation of the Elite OffTopic Group which is the largest facebook group amongst the Elite Groups.

The reason why we chose Elite was because of its literal meaning. “Something better than the rest”, which was exactly what we wanted to turn Elite into. An “Elite” platform for the Indian Gamers and even today we are striving as a team; the members & the admins to make this platform even better!

Did you ever believe that the group will become so huge, that it will become one of the integral parts of the Indian gaming scene?

When we began with Elite we had never imagined that we would be able to come this far. But then again the reason for the success of Elite is not us. The Indian gamers love this place and that is what makes it what it is. For us, we are happy seeing that our dreams are now a reality thanks to all the members at Elite for which we are truly indebted to them.

Tell us about the early days of Elite, and how you reached where you are today?

In the early days of Elite, it was all just about Game Trading & Skin Trading modelled after the Sub-Reddit, CSGO Trading. After that came the Elite OffTopic Group for all Gaming & Non-Gaming discussions for Indian Gamers. One day, two of our admins decided to start a dedicated hardware group where Elitians could buy and sell PC Parts. I was fascinated by the idea and asked them if we could do this under the Elite banner because we have the Indian Gaming community to support this segment and it would be beneficial for them if they would be able to get PC parts at many competitive rates than Retail & E-Tail. They agreed and we started with the dedicated PC Buying & Selling group. After that, the brand heads joined in and they started recognizing Elite as one of India’s biggest Gaming Community & Sales Platform.

At this point we had the recognition and support that we needed from the brands, the next step was to start doing events & tournaments for our Elite members for which we needed their support. That is where CORSAIR stepped in and a few months later ZOTAC & GALAX did. So far it has been an amazing journey but there is a long way to go!

Did you have a specific strategy while starting out? Did you start out to make Elite Offtopic THE hub for Indian gamers?

We had no such plans. All we wanted was a place where we could interact with our friends and have a few discussions. But with time, more and more gamers flocked to Elite and the atmosphere here being different than elsewhere, they started looking at this community as a second family. We started Elite in 2014 but the actual process of growing Elite as a central hub for Indian Gamers began in Late 2018 when we realized that our members were up for meetups and events, on-ground events and not just online if we could plan it for them. This is when we realized that we could move from being just a Facebook Group to something beyond that in the Gaming Scene.

A lot of controversies have happened in Elite Offtopic, most of them unmasking scams and other unethical practices in the Indian scene. Even Forsaken had been earlier accused of cheating by a lot of people on Elite Offtopic even before he made it into OpTic India. How do you feel about that?

In my opinion, we at Elite are privileged that the Indian Gamers choose to use this platform to voice their grievances and express their concerns in all matters related to the Indian Gaming Community. We feel that issues are best solved when discussed mutually. I just feel that if tournament organizers and people with the actual power in the Esports Scene took the events in the group more seriously, things may have been different. We would have been saved from what happened in China last year due to Forsaken. We only hope that things are taken more seriously now to prevent wrongdoers from being able to capitalize on a position that would affect our Indian Gaming Scene.

So recently you started monetizing Elite. It has become a brand in itself with its own merch. Have you ever thought of making it into a business venture?

We have actually thought of turning Elite into something bigger than just a Facebook group. There are a lot of plans in the preparation phase as we speak and hopefully with the support of the Elitians, Elite will grow into something much bigger than just a Facebook Group. We hope that one day, Elite is recognized as a pioneer in the Indian Gaming Industry.

Tell us something about the sponsorship with Corsair and Galax? Were you approached by them or did you approach them? Can we expect more partnership in the future?

Everything began with DreamHack 2018. That was the first Gaming Festival in India where we established a ground presence of Elite with people from various parts of the country. Thanks to the efforts of Rohan Parte and Rushabh Shah, we were able to organize two events for the elite members on successive days. The entire booth was packed with Elitians throughout the event which lasted roughly five hours on each day. Talks of a potential sponsorship began at the event which we followed up on after that and finally signed the deal in April 2019. 

Bankim Agarwal sir approached us in July expressing GALAX’s interest in tieing up with Elite in the Graphic Card segment. After a few discussions, we reached a point of mutual understanding and signed the deal in August.

Yes, we are in talks with potential sponsors as we speak.

Where do you see Elite in 5 years? What is your vision?

The Indian PC Gaming scene is at its peak and while it has been our focus to stick to the PC Gaming we also realize that the actual Gaming scene is beyond just the PC Segment. There is console gaming & there is mobile gaming. We wish to expand our horizons by venturing into these segments soon. We aim to make Elite grow to a point where it is recognized as India’s foremost gaming community in not just the PC section but in the entire Gaming Segment and we believe that growing the community is not just about the numbers game. We need to build a community from its core which takes years.

What do you think Elite’s biggest achievement has been till date?

In my opinion, the biggest achievement of Elite is its people. Elite is what it is because of what they make Elite. Without the Elitians, Elite could not have grown to the point where we have today. There is a long road ahead and I am sure with the continued support of the Indian Gamers to the Elite Groups, Elite will one day grow to an even bigger platform.

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