League of Extraordinary Gamers: Welcome to India’s Best Gaming Arenas

League of Extraordinary Gamers | Anish Babu
LXG (League of Extraordinary Gamers)

Caution: Enter only if you are a hardcore gamer!

Here the action is non-stop, the battles are always ongoing, invaders are storming the field, intruders are breaching the first rank, their weapons are lethal, and the enemies are many, multifarious, vicious, brutal, nasty, nefarious, evil, utterly violent, ferocious, immoral, and sometimes near to immortal, and the levels after levels of attacks feel like fighting a battle continuum of the war infinitum. Your enemies might seem and look like humanoids, but don’t let them fool you with their varied avatars. You are into a deathly universe which is beyond the metaverse. The realm might be beyond your maximum level of high-fi science-fictionist dream or nightmare; the way you take it.

Only enter if you are deadly serious. Or you will be seriously game-dead. This place is not for weak hearts. This is the fear unlimited battleground for the bravest, mightiest, and fittest warriors. Welcome to India’s best gaming and esports arenas–the game verse–an alternative futuristic spacetime in the digitally virtual reality envisioned by and for the League of Extraordinary Gamers (LXG).

Owned and operated by Anish Babu, the Franchise Owner, the two gaming cafes/premium esports arenas in Chennai–the first opened in Nungambakkam in 2016 and the second opened in Anna Nagar in 2021–are LXG franchises.

Game On

To get the most out of these franchises, Anish and his team offer High-End PCs outfitted with AMD Ryzen 5000 series processors, 3060ti/3070ti graphics cards, and Aorus 240 Hz refresh rate monitors. They use Logitech equipment for peripherals because they provide some of the greatest headsets, mice, keyboards, and unique LXG mousepads. They have E-Blue esports chairs that are really cosy for extended gaming sessions, as well as a special restaurant named ‘Zolives’ that coexists in both locations. “Our primary goal was to establish a specialized gaming space for amateur and professional players with the appropriate infrastructure on our end. We concentrated on creating a roomy space with enough space between the PCs,” adds Anish.

They have some of the most recent Sony PS5 consoles in a separate area. “Consistency of the experience throughout both of our locations is one of the characteristics that make us unique as a café,” feels Anish. One of the largest offline esports competitions in the nation, ILG or Indian Lan Gaming, is hosted by LXG every season and spans over 20+ cities with a total prize pool of over ₹ one crore. The competition is open to all cafés in the city, not just LXG outlets, and concludes with a national finals between the winners of individual regional qualifiers.

Ready Player One

Telling about his journey, Anish says that before venturing into this space, he had a rudimentary knowledge of what the clients expected because he is a gamer himself and has organized quite a few online and offline events in Chennai. “We were one of the first cafés to install esports chairs, which are designed for professional gamers who play for extended periods of time and require adequate back support,” informs Anish. In order to respond to any queries individuals had and to help new players develop into professionals, they also focus on keeping top-tier gamers on staff as support personnel. “Our cafe was one of the first in south India to install a soundproof studio specifically for streamers and YouTubers, who are welcome to use it for free,” adds Anish. One of the gamers who emerged from their cafe was popular streamer ‘Lord Bathura.’

Anish vividly recalls his parents’ initial opposition to the café business proposal when he first presented it because they believed gaming spoils individuals. He had the good fortune to meet Mr Sunil, in charge of Nvidia South, who had inspired Anish’s parents to back him in his business venture because of the size and scalability of the company and the success of his previous events in the city. Mom and Dad concurred.

Entering the Master Franchise League

Later, Anish ran into the head of LXG at an Nvidia-organized meetup for café owners in Bangalore. After the event, Anish went to LXG BANGALORE in Indiranagar, where he learned about the technology that powered the cafe and its know-how for successfully running a business. “Since there was so much more to learn about running a business than just having a passion for it, I obtained a Master Franchise from them for Chennai City. I had faith that I could effectively run my café with a variety of events and pay off the debt I owed my parents, who had invested in the business with the help of the LXG’s knowledge, counsel, and the community support I had in the city,” shares Anish.

Continuing his journey, in 2009, when Anish was a semi-pro, he began playing ‘Call of Duty-4 with a group of incredibly talented players. Around 2011, cafes began to collapse for various reasons, and competition began to decline, especially in Chennai.

Launching Gamerz Lounge

Anish decided to take a vacation from competitive gaming and concentrate on becoming an independent event planner through his startup, ‘Gamerz Lounge.’ He began in 2013 with several online and offline events. Because of the support of Jaseem Khan, the founder of the AGL (Asia Gaming League) and a current partner of renowned international teams like Mineski Global, “I had the good fortune to work with well-known international casters like Xyclopz and Maya Arcana,” Anish conveys.

They consented to cast their first-ever Indian Esports Event via Anish’s startup. The competing teams were eager to have their play analyzed by some of the best Asian analysts for the game Dota-2. Mr Shagun Singh, the CEO of NeckBREAK, a very successful esports organization in India with some of the strongest teams, gave Anish his first sponsorship.

Gamerz Lounge Esports rooster

With the help of  NeckBREAK’s sponsorship and support, Gamerz Lounge held its first set of ONLINE and LAN tournaments in Chennai, which attracted some of the top teams in India”

“Following the event, I began to support five bright people for my start-up’s Dota 2 squad, ‘Gamerz Lounge,’ and eventually added a CS: GO roster. And sponsored “Team Makeway” along with the FIFA gamer ‘Anish,’ who began to dominate local college competitions and LAN tournaments,” mentions Anish. It also inspired many new professional teams and players who started to emerge in the city. Anish says, “Some of the team members and our staff eventually joined a number of the leading Esports game organizations, including Global Esports and Velocity Gaming, and are now successfully pursuing their aspirations in the gaming sector.”

Navigating the High Terrain

Regarding the immersive benefits offered by his LXG franchises, Anish says that when he was renting out venues and planning gaming events in Chennai, he observed that there was a severe lack of infrastructure and trained personnel with the necessary training and knowledge and that the majority worked part-time at a gaming cafe. Anish states, “I invited some of the top gamers in the area to join my team as café personnel. All the new players who visited my café gained insights from their experiences and received guidance on how to hone their skills.” It gradually became a hotspot for professional teams throughout south India to strategize and practise, and many event organizers rented out the facility and held events there.

Warning: Danger Ahead

Speaking about the challenges he faced and successfully overcame, Anish says that the government’s laws for professional gaming, which are continuously changing, the EB tariff, which is steadily rising, as well as natural occurrences like cyclones to some extent and maintenance-related internet outages, pose the largest hurdles for them.

COVID-19 also had a significant impact on them. They could continue operating their business by renting out their high-end systems to reliable customers. Subsequently, they could sell their old computers, which they had bought in 2016, at a higher price due to increased demand in the second-hand market brought on by concerns with chip shortages around the world and crypto mining.

Congratulations: You Won

Before their relaunch following COVID, they utilized the funds to upgrade to the latest hardware for their machines. They are now operating at higher levels than we were before COVID. Anish expresses, “We were confident that if we kept innovating and enhancing the user experience, we could rank among the city’s top hangouts. With time, we began to host sports screening events at our cafe, offer freshly assembled PCs and peripherals, and host birthday parties with a theme.”

Grand-Gamer’s Wisdom

As an experienced professional, Anish’s sincere advice to budding aspirants wishing to venture into the gaming industry is, “Before entering this business, one thing I would demand of any young person is that they have a strong passion for gaming.”

Be consistent in everything you do, whether planning events or renting out space. It might have less traction at first, but if you do it right, it will scale up enormously, allowing you to explore anything a teenager might need with little research.

“Also, we frequently see cafés come up outside of schools or universities, while you’ll get a fair amount of walk-ins and a steady influx of people, but my advice is not to solely rely on this as there will be lots of downtime like summer vacations, exams and off time during weekdays,” warns Anish.

To maintain creative offers that serve the city, Anish would also suggest that they retain as much data on hand as they can in the cafe. Even if a successful café already exists in the same location, he advises everyone to avoid blindly copying its layout without conducting adequate study because they can be exposed to a different audience that drives them—employing personnel after a suitable trial time and focusing on their communication abilities rather than their academic credentials. Choose a location that offers adequate internet access, infrequent power outages, access to neighbouring supermarkets, and a respectable number of surrounding schools and institutions.

LXGs Future Verse

Revealing his and LXG’s future, Anish says that being a tech enthusiast himself since a young age, he was exposed to the most recent technological advancements and sought to enhance the customer’s experience using inspirations from other nations, particularly Singapore and Malaysia, who have many thriving gaming cafes. He wanted the cafe to seem spacious with a dedicated waiting area for youngsters and parents who just wanted to hang out, along with a genuine restaurant to serve food. “Any teen who wants to hang out and have fun should come to my cafe, in my opinion. We provide a platform for players to develop into professionals, learn the skills necessary to start a YouTube channel and become successful content creators/influencers for top brands. LXG currently has five facilities throughout India, but we want to ensure that all future LXG locations retain the same high standards,” says Anish adding that LXG gets many franchise requests and is currently in the process of converting them into successful franchises with their expertise.

LXGs Hall of Fame

Anish shares, “When I consider some of my cafe’s accomplishments, I realize that they would not have been possible without the ongoing support of the local community and guidance from LXG headquarters. I want to express my gratitude to all the professional gamers and administrators who have supported us over the years and helped us get recognized, as well as to our sponsored teams, Gamerz Lounge and Team Makeway, who have represented us and won a number of competitions and college fests. The competitions for esports ‘Overwatch’ and ‘League of Legends’ that Nvidia India organized between the best gaming cafes in India were our cafe’s greatest achievements.”

Anish’s café LXG CHENNAI participated in five seasons that they organized, winning twice and placing second in the other three seasons. Their cafe model was also used as the cover by Nvidia India for their study, ‘Esports cafes in India: The Untapped Potential.’

With some of the best gaming hardware, their cafe has hosted some of the best gaming teams in India, including ‘Enigma Gaming’ and ‘Velocity Gaming,’ who have camped out at their cafe and competed in international tournaments. Anish mentions, “They were pleased with the hospitality we offered. Similar requests are already coming in from other teams.”

They also have an area designated for watching sports, and among those who have used it are the official Tamil Nadu fan clubs associated with Manchester City and Real Madrid.

Brands like Intel had unveiled their i9 series processors for the city in our cafe. We have also collaborated with brands like Sony, RedBull, Logitech, Gigabyte, and Zotac and the launch of WWE games for multiple editions,” concludes Anish.

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