MS Dhoni Takes Center Stage as ‘Thala’ in Free Fire’s Grand Return to India

Free Fire India returns with MS Dhoni as ‘Thala’ and Indian sports icons, promising a revolution in the Indian gaming and esports scene.

Garena’s Free Fire Reemerges in India, Featuring MS Dhoni as ‘Thala’

Garena, the Singapore-based game developer and a subsidiary of Sea Group, is thrilled to announce the grand comeback of its beloved mobile battle royale sensation, Free Fire, in India. “Free Fire India” is gearing up to make waves in the Indian gaming industry, becoming available for download across the nation on September 5.

Notably, Free Fire, along with 53 other mobile applications, faced a ban imposed by the Indian government in February of the previous year. The ban came at a time when the game was soaring in popularity, as indicated by its status as the most downloaded mobile game worldwide in January 2022. This distinction, with 24 million downloads representing a remarkable 51.6% increase compared to January 2021, was corroborated by data from Sensor Tower.

Mr. Animesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO of 8Bit Creatives, a leading esports consulting and talent agency in India, and Co-Founder of S8UL, expressed his excitement regarding the game’s resurgence. He emphasized that India holds a pivotal position in Free Fire’s global user base and the game’s return will open doors to remarkable opportunities that will elevate the gaming landscape in the country. The revival of Free Fire is expected to bring about a surge in tournaments with substantial prize pools, providing players with a platform to establish their names.

The impact of Free Fire’s return extends beyond the competitive realm. It will significantly benefit the creator community by offering diverse and immersive content, allowing creators to expand their fanbase within the industry. Furthermore, as the game regains attention and engagement, brands are expected to show increased interest and invest in the ecosystem.

Garena’s official announcement also revealed that MS Dhoni has been appointed as the brand ambassador for Free Fire India, making him the first Indian sportsperson to feature as a playable character in the game, known as “Thala.” Joining Dhoni in this exciting venture are other prominent Indian athletes such as football captain Sunil Chhetri, badminton champion Saina Nehwal, tennis legend Leander Paes, and Kabbadi champion Rahul Chaudhari, all collaborating with Garena Free Fire to boost the Indian esports ecosystem.

Mr. Lokesh Suji, Director of the Esports Federation of India and Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF), emphasized that Free Fire’s return holds immense promise for players across the nation. It amplifies the competitive spirit and paves the way for recognition and opportunities on a global scale. The growth of competitive gaming in India takes a significant step forward with ESFI’s support for such endeavors.

According to Sensor Tower data, Garena Free Fire generated an impressive $1.1 billion in revenue from January to December 2021. It also achieved the distinction of being the most downloaded game worldwide in 2021 across both the App Store and Play Store, accumulating 218 million downloads on mobile devices.

This resurgence is expected to spark a ripple effect, encouraging the emergence of high-profile tournaments and events, further invigorating India’s esports landscape. However, it is crucial that the Indian government remains vigilant about security and data privacy, ensuring the interests of players and enthusiasts are safeguarded.

In 2021, the Free Fire World Series, a Garena Free Fire tournament hosted in Singapore, broke records by becoming the most-watched esports event of all time, boasting a peak viewership of 5.41 million, according to Statista.

The launch of Free Fire India is poised to revolutionize India’s esports scene, bringing with it more tournaments, increased earnings, and substantial prize pools. This competition will intensify the rivalry with Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), the reigning battle royale champion in India, ultimately fostering the growth of the video gaming industry.