The Batch Championships: A Preview
Sports Desk Editors Samhith Shankar and Vishnu Prakash (UG’24) preview The Batch Championships and its importance to Ashoka’s Sports culture.
A week before the new semester began, we made a list of upcoming sports events The Edict’s Sports Desk might cover. Scheduled towards the end of our first month back on campus, this wonderfully unique event — Ashoka’s Batch Championships — particularly excited both of us.
Popular media is fascinated with inter-batch relations, especially in college. The transformation from being a wide-eyed, anxious-about-making-friends freshman, to a settled, annoyed-with-freshmen, anxious-about-placements senior is a quick 3-year journey that happens before you notice. These archetypes find their way into the sports culture of universities as well, and while they may not be hostile, a friendly, respectful rivalry is bound to develop. The Batch Championships brings this narrative into the spotlight, setting up a clash between the best sportspersons, with the rest of the university watching and cheering on their batchmates to be crowned Champions of Ashoka. There’s something special about batch solidarity, and the Sports Enthusiasts Club’s (SEC) event capitalises on it spectacularly.
With fond memories of rejoicing in UG’24’s victory last time around (our only contributions were cheering from the stands, as well as a second-round exit in Table Tennis), we knew we had to write about the special place the Batch Championships holds in Ashoka’s sports culture.
Unlike most other sporting events at Ashoka, players can make their own teams, not reliant on owners and auction dynamics to determine their fellow players. This means star-studded lineups face off against each other — formidable matchups that you probably won’t witness unless you’re a diligent follower of the teams’ training sessions. Watching Nikhil Mishra, Atharva Dawar and Zahaan Shahpoorjee (UG’24s) face off against their usual teammates Dhruv Achappa, Ahaan Krishnaprasad, Dhananjay Sinh and Jaidhar Vasisht (UG’25s) is a sight you can witness only at The Batch Championships!
Just because the best players form teams within themselves, doesn’t make the competition boring or one-sided. Last year’s Football semi-finals, for instance, resulted in huge upsets, with underdog UG’24 teams beating the ASP all-stars side and a fellow UG’24 team consisting of Atharva, Zahaan, and Dhruv Damodhar, in thrilling matches. Similarly, all players from the Ashoka Men’s Table Tennis team lost out in the tournament's early rounds.
There’s no dearth of underdog stories and surprises at The Batch Championships. We see first-years showcase their skills for the first time against the best Ashoka has to offer. Sarthak Gandhi and Prithvi Bapna (UG’25s) announced their talent to the university by sweeping the tennis and badminton competitions respectively. Many UG’27s will have the same opportunity this weekend.
As the first major intra-college sporting event of the academic year, the batch championships set the mood for the next 8 months for sports at Ashoka. Spanning 4 days, 12 sports, and various venues across campus, it promises to be a stellar showcase of what our athletes have to offer, and once again, crown one batch, Champions of Ashoka. Both of us vividly remember standing on the touchline of the Dhaba-side court a year ago; watching the basketball finals, knowing we needed just one medal to secure the Championship. We watched the UG’24 Men’s team come agonisingly close to beating the superstar UG’23 team, in perhaps one of the most entertaining and high-quality games of basketball ever seen at Ashoka.
The crowd displayed a range of emotions that night; losing that game was seemingly an anticlimax for the hoards of UG’24s who’d been cheering their hearts out. We remember celebrating points with people we had never seen before. Being from the same batch was reason enough to do so.
That game set up the next one perfectly, though, offering the UG’24s a final chance at grasping the trophy. The Non-cis-men basketball final right after saw euphoric cheering and celebrations from the then 2nd years, as our team comfortably beat the UG’25s team to tie the number of gold medals with UG’23, allowing UG24 to snatch the trophy by the barest of margins — the silver medal count!
If Batch Championships 2.0 can come close to the drama, ecstasy, and sportsmanship of the inaugural one, we’re in for a rollercoaster 4 days of competitive and spirited sports.