It is that time of the year when everyone is glued to their television screens to watch their favorite teams clash against each other in the world’s largest club cricket T20 tournament. The 15th edition of the Indian T20 League is right around the corner with the promise of more entertainment owing to two new teams and new team rosters after the mega-auction. However, another phenomenon has gripped the entire community of sports aficionados in India alongside this league: fantasy cricket leagues!
Over the past few years, the fantasy cricket leagues have witnessed an exponential rise, becoming a household name at this point. The fact that a fantasy sports platform sponsored the last edition of the Indian T20 League goes on to highlight the meteoric rise of these players in the business ecosystem. With an overall user base surpassing 100 million in 2021, this segment has the potential to breach the USD 1 billion mark very soon! But what is the reason for this exponential growth of fantasy leagues?
The penetration of smartphones coupled with high-speed internet across the Indian demographic is one reason since it has given everyone easy access to these platforms through mobile apps. Further, the emergence of new franchise leagues for various sports like cricket, badminton, and kabaddi has driven user engagement with fantasy leagues. However, if one were to point out the single biggest contributor to this trend, the Indian T20 League would be the simple answer!
India loves its cricket. Even before this T20 league, the Indian populace was smitten by this sport, which entered an age of resurgence with the introduction of the faster and spunkier T20 format in the mid-2000s. The maiden edition of the T20 league in 2008 combined the glamour of some of the biggest names in world cricket with the talent of regional cricket heroes into multiple regional teams. This tournament has become a celebration of cricket due to its inherent structure and the national love for the sport. This is also evident in the fantasy sports league segment – 75% of the Indian users prefer playing cricket over other sports!
There are multiple reasons behind the massive success of this T20 league-based fantasy sports in India, including but not limited to the tournament’s structure. Earlier, international cricket was limited to bilateral tours and ICC tournaments, which had a fixed calendar, yet sporadic occurrence. The introduction of franchise club cricket increased this frequency, thus regularising the number of cricket matches happening in a calendar year. This presented an excellent opportunity for the sports fantasy leagues to enter into cricket-based skill games.
Further, the league’s deep engagement with its fans through multiple channels such as individual teams’ Instagram and Youtube channels has evolved into a sense of ownership amongst the fans who want more active participation. They want the chance to test out their own devised strategies about team selection before every match, similar to the respective team managers. Fantasy cricket leagues fill this gap perfectly by giving this opportunity to the fans on a minimal ticket size, alongside the possibility of winning big if their strategy is right!
This year, the mega-auction has introduced a new paradigm in the usual strategies employed to win big at fantasy cricket. For the third time in its 10+ years-long history, the club owners are required to build their franchise squad from scratch, barring a couple of retentions. This is a great opportunity for newcomers to come into their own since each of the teams would have to practically restart their campaign from a clean slate. To know more about the rules and rewards of fantasy cricket leagues, do check out the My11Circle fantasy Cricket app, where you can get a crash course on this before the Indian T20 League league comes knocking at the door!