Ishpreet Singh Chadha always dreamed of being a pro snooker player, but a leg injury sustained in 2017 left his dream in tatters.
The young 27-year-old competitor (then 21) sought out a sport he could play in a more sedentary position and signed with a professional esports organization instead.
When an injury left Ishpreet Singh Chadha unable to play snooker, he made a professional switch and signed a contract with Entity – an esports team billing itself as India’s number-one competitive gaming organization.
Speaking to BBC Asian Network on Wednesday, August 23, Ishpreet explained how he rose the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ranks to become a top player.
“I got really good,” he said. “I was the best player in my country for two years.”
The game also gave him his first taste of spectator interaction, which he relished and spurred him on even further.
“We had at least 400 to 500 people watching us live, thousands on the internet as well,” he says. “The adrenaline… it was totally different. I loved it.”
But while circumstance played a role in Ishpreet entering esports in the first place, fate would open the door to snooker once again. When COVID struck in 2019, it played havoc with the sporting calendar, and the young hopeful seized his chance.
Making the move to Snooker
Ishpreet believed that many players’ careers would be interrupted as the world locked down to COVID. It was the big moment of opportunity Ishpreet was searching for.
“I thought everybody would be on a similar level again because nobody touched a cue,” he said. “So I thought that was my chance to get better than them, work harder than before.”
The move led to him winning the Indian national championships in 2022. As for his esports career, he believes it instilled a winning mentality in him that continues to pay off to this day.
“I can handle pressure much better. When we played Counter-Strike, we used to play for the team first, and then for yourself,” said Ishpreet.
“You can’t let four other people down. You also play in front of big crowds, so I think I can handle pressure a little bit better and my temperament has improved too. Gaming helped me a lot in life.”
The once Counter-Strike player has graduated to playing the European Masters in Germany this week. It’s the first major tournament of the snooker calendar season and marks an incredible rise for the determined competitor.
A big change
Having recorded success in India, Ishpreet was faced with a decision on the future of his career.
Like many international players, Ishpreet decided to move to the U.K., where snooker has a considerably higher profile than elsewhere in the world.
“People actually respect snooker in the UK,” says Ishpreet.
“It’s not considered a proper sport in India, like cricket is. Not many people actually know what snooker is.”
He hasn’t moved alone, however. Ishpreet’s mother moved with him to continue offering her support.
“My mum’s a single parent. Since I was 10, it was only me and her. She’s never forced me to do anything, but always said whatever you do, you should do it with full passion and give it your best shot.”