Indian President Amit Burman, the Poker Sports League (), is set to return in a virtual avatar in its third season after the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted plans on the ground.

Burman, promoter and chairman of Mind Sports League, owner of PSL, told ET that the company has already tested production capacity by hosting a virtual charity poker event.

“With our charity event last month, we tested production capabilities. Although we have already hosted two seasons of PSL, this time around it will allow us to engage viewers and keep the excitement high for a longer period of time by hosting it online, ”said Burman.

Online qualifiers for PSL’s third season are underway and will run through November 22. A total of 80 players will be selected and drafted into eight teams between December 6 and 9. Team owners will have one month to prepare their teams and a training camp will be held the first week of January.

“In terms of production, we are the only company in the country to broadcast live poker. It’s very difficult to have all the players and record their audio in one frame, ”said Pranav Bagai, CEO and co-founder of Mind Sports League. “What we tried to do with the charity event was not done in the world. But it got us a lot of views, even from people who weren’t passionate about poker. Now with the proof of concept, we will have the PSL spread over 2 months.

Bagai added that the company will send filming kits to all 80 players, to capture their audio and video in a single frame.

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Mind Sports League is valued at Rs 40 crore, with Burman’s total investment (as an individual) in the business at Rs 17 crore. He and Bagai together own 90% of the Mind Sports League.

Previously, Anuj Gupta, founder of the poker portal Adda52.com, was also part owner of the league, but after Delta Corp acquired Adda52, Burman bought out Gupta’s stake in PSL.

Burman said the third season, which was originally scheduled last year, was initially delayed due to the change in ownership structure and later due to Covid-19. Meanwhile, of the 10 franchises that signed with the company last year, only six have decided to continue.

“We have six confirmed team owners and in talks with two more. This time, because the league is digital, the overall cost per franchise is also lower, at Rs 50 lakh, all inclusive, ”Bagai added.

PSL 3 will have a total prize pool of Rs 1.8 crore.

The company is in talks with Reliance Jio and MX Player for a streaming rights deal, and with various sponsors. “We will be closing new owners, sponsors and streaming partners soon,” Burman said.

In addition to PSL, Mind Sport League also launched two new verticals, #Poker, a proprietary application for enthusiasts to learn, watch and play poker as a sport of the mind, and #Productions, which is a production service for the live broadcast of poker tournaments.

“I’m here to create an ecosystem and derive long-term value from it. The idea is to teach and promote poker as a sport of the mind and to make PSL the biggest league in the world in the future, ”Burman added.