In the middle of 2019, a six-month-old Indian startup hosted the largest chess tournament the country had ever seen. Over 300,000 players registered, and over 12 hours, 1.2 million chess games were played. That’s 17,000 chess games concluded every minute.
Mobile Premier League (MPL), the real-money gaming service that hosted the tournament, spent months ensuring their servers could handle this volume of traffic.
They hired Viswanathan Anand as brand ambassador to promote the tournament and promised the winner a prize money of ₹5 lakh. Entry into the tournament would be free—all you needed was a mobile device and an internet connection—but 30,000 winners would walk away with some part of the total prize pool, exceeding ₹11 lakh.
Challenges and Strategies
With the surge being so sudden, several companies have also had to quickly ensure that their cloud infrastructure is strong enough to handle the growing user base.
MPL said it was already equipped to handle the surge. But being a platform that also offers fantasy sports, and with all major sports tournaments across the world cancelled or postponed, has that meant any massive changes for the Bengaluru-based company?
“That’s the advantage of being a platform. Fantasy took a hit obviously, because of the sporting events getting cancelled but we have seen that our fantasy users have migrated to other games,” said Naman Jhawar, MPL’s vice president of business and strategy.
MPL, which boasts of Indian men’s cricket team captain Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador, has managed to ensure that its advertisements shot don’t go waste despite an uncertain future for the cash-cow that is the Indian Premier League.
“Unlike other fantasy cricket apps, our platform isn’t seasonal and hence isn’t dependent only on the IPL for advertising – which is why we have just launched a major television campaign pan-India even though the IPL has been pushed,” said Abhishek Madhavan, vice president of growth and marketing at MPL.