Pakistani Video Game Player Among World's Top 10 Earners

Karachi-born Pakistani Syed Sumail Hasan, 19, is the world's youngest video gamer to surpass $1 million in earnings in esports. In fact, he has earned $3.6 million so far as an international Dota 2 player, ranking him the 10th biggest winner in the world, according to website which tracks players' earnings. Sumail started playing Dota 2 at the age of 7. He now lives in a Chicago suburb as a permanent resident of the United States.

Syed Sumail Hassan

Arsalan Ash Siddique, 23 years old player from Lahore, Pakistan, caused a stir in Fukuoka Japan when he defeated world's top players to win EVO championship in February, 2019, according to Asahi Shimbun. In his victory speech, Arslan acknowledged many unknown Pakistani players who are also quite strong but could not join the competition because they could not get the visa to travel to Japan.

It wasn't easy for Arsalan to reach Japan to participate in the contest. He had to jump through many hoops and travel through several transit countries each of which made it difficult for him. When he arrived at Haneda airport in Japan,  he only had Pakistani rupees and no exchange would accept them. Hungry and tired he tried his luck at the food court but no one would accept the Pakistani currency. His next flight was from Narita airport an hour away by public transport. To travel he needed to buy a ticket but did not possess any local currency, according to SBS Urdu.

Arsalan Ash Siddique (Center)

Arsalan was exhausted and ready to give up his dream when he finally got through to his Japanese sponsors who helped him out. Needless to say he got no help from Pakistani diplomats through his challenging journey.

In spite of visa denials and other travel challenges faced by Pakistani players, the country ranks 25th in the world for players' earnings in 2019, according to  Ranked above Pakistan are  mainly rich industrialized nations from North America, Europe and East Asia. All South Asian nations rank below Pakistan. Players from India rank 63rd, Sri Lanka 98th, Afghanistan 108th, Bangladesh 115th and Nepal 123rd.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on November 25, 2019 at 7:46pm

#Pakistan penetrates top #esports gaming echelon, giving hope to #Mideast players. #SouthKorean players had been considered the world’s strongest in international Tekken 7 competitions. #Pakistani players beat them in international contests via @AlMonitor

In February, during Evo Japan 2019 in Fukuoka, a rising star from Pakistan surprised everyone by winning one of the biggest and hardest tournaments of the year. In August, he did it again and won the absolute biggest tournament of the year in Las Vegas by roundly beating the legendary Knee.

The Pakistani player, Arslan Siddique, who plays under the name “Arslan Ash,” is now sponsored by Team Vslash. In the past he had trouble getting visas to compete in countries like Japan and the United States, which explained his and other Pakistani players’ absence in overseas tournaments. Without his persistence, along with skill and practice, of course, it would have been impossible for him to become the best player in the world or to put his country on the esports map. According to Siddique, Pakistan has a huge Tekken community and he has been practicing with skillful players.

Awais Parvez (“Awais Honey”) is another player from Pakistan who has made a name for himself. In August he won the first major international Tekken tournament he had ever entered, solidifying Pakistan and its players as a force to be reckoned with.

Success stories like these indicate there are many great players yet to be discovered in other countries. The small number of esports organizations and the lack of international esports events in areas such as Pakistan and the Middle East are some of the reasons more players from there haven’t competed globally.

Amman, Jordan-based Fate Esports was established in early 2017 with a team of five Jordanian Dota 2 players. The company has expanded into global esports by adding teams/players and more games such as CSGO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) and Tekken 7. It currently operates in Jordan, Bulgaria, Pakistan and South Korea and is considered a beacon of hope in Middle East.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Fate Esports founder Mohammad Majali said, “[Global Masters] was a pilot event, we planned it at the last second specifically to bring world-class players to Jordan and grow the country’s image as a pioneer in esports.”

He added, “Over 6,000 people tuned in to watch the event live across different streaming platforms and we’re expecting to see this number grow dramatically in the upcoming years.”

Read more:

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 20, 2019 at 7:59am

Arslan Ash from #Pakistan is the first player to win both Evo events in a single year, since the tournament began in 1996. "It’s unheard of! It’s never happened in the history of competitive Tekken", said Aris. #eSports #Tekken #Evo


In October, Atif Butt and Awais Honey flew together to the Tokyo Tekken Masters tournament, eventually facing off against each other in the finals; they took home 1st and 2nd place. In November, Rox N Roll Dubai culminated in an all-Pakistani final again, this time between Awais Honey and Heera, who faced top players like Japan’s legendary Nobi. Of the twenty players who qualified for the Tekken World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok, three — Bilal, Awais Honey, and Arslan Ash — were Pakistani.


Jae-Min "Knee" Bae, widely considered one of the all-time greatest players of the video game Tekken, glistened with sweat. It was the final round of the the Evolution Champion Series (Evo) finals in Las Vegas in August — the second of the two most prestigious fighting game tournaments of the year. He was up against a relative unknown, Arslan “Ash” Siddique, who had become the first Pakistani player to compete at an Evo tournament that February, in Fukuoka, Japan.

“Look at Knee,” said live commentator Aris. “Have you ever thought he would look like this, perplexed as to how to beat his opponent?”

Knee swapped characters a few times in the five games they played, but nothing seemed to be working. Arslan continually sidestepped or jumped over Knee’s strikes, which for some characters in Tekken can come out in 11 milliseconds — about the length of a blink. When Knee tried surprise attacks, Arslan always seemed to predict them. The match broke viewing records for competitive Tekken, with gamers all over the world witnessing Arslan’s eventual triumph.

“It’s unheard of! It’s never happened in the history of competitive Tekken, someone to come out of nowhere — Pakistan — and dominate the entire Korean, Japanese, European, and North American scene,” said Aris.

In October, Atif Butt and Awais Honey flew together to the Tokyo Tekken Masters tournament, eventually facing off against each other in the finals; they took home 1st and 2nd place. In November, Rox N Roll Dubai culminated in an all-Pakistani final again, this time between Awais Honey and Heera, who faced top players like Japan’s legendary Nobi. Of the twenty players who qualified for the Tekken World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok, three — Bilal, Awais Honey, and Arslan Ash — were Pakistani.

Japanese and Korean players were looking to settle the score. The live broadcast of the Grand Finals cut to prerecorded interviews of the players before each match in the round robin. Nobi’s interview provoked cheers and jeers from the audience in Bangkok. “There are many strong Tekken players in the world, and the focus is on players from Pakistan at the moment,” he said. “But Tekken’s origins are from Japan, so I’m really hoping the Japanese players, myself included, are able to make our way into the top eight.”

Although Arslan Ash, Awais Honey, and Bilal were eliminated before the final round, the level of representation from an unknown region was unprecedented. Chatter on TWT's official Twitch stream dubbed the storyline the “secret Pakistan masters” arc — or “Flukestan,” depending on who you ask. Racist turban emoji spam in the Twitch chat aside, since February, Pakistanis have managed to make it out to 11 international tournaments, and they’ve snagged first place at all but three.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 7, 2020 at 7:35pm

#Pakistan's #Tekken pros look to continue to prove their worth in 2020. "Eik Naya Baazigar Pesh Aya!" "Here Comes A New Challenger!" Syed Sumail Hassan has earned over $3 million in prize money in his career, making him the 10th-highest #eSports Earnings.

"Eik Naya Baazigar Pesh Aya!"

That's a loose Urdu translation of "Here Comes A New Challenger!" Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, which until 2019 wasn't represented much in the world of esports. Its most high-profile competitor was Syed "SumaiL" Hassan, a renowned Dota 2 player who, shortly after moving to the United States, became the youngest-ever player to win The International, earning the 2015 title with Evil Genius at the age of 16. Hassan has earned over $3 million in prize money in his career, making him the 10th-highest esports earner worldwide, according to Esports Earnings.

But the most popular competitive titles in Pakistan are fighting games. With accessible and affordable nationwide internet service still playing catchup, gamers in Pakistan often come together in person to practice and compete, region by region -- a familiar setting to the roots of the FGC. In cities such as Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, Tekken took center stage. Little by little, like iron sharpening iron, players in Pakistan were improving.

Whispers about their developing skills traveled the globe.

"​Certain people were told by people from Pakistan that their players were amazing, but people [have made] that claim a lot with very little credence in the past, so it was dismissed," said James Chen, a longtime FGC commentator and historian. "But this time it turned out to be true."

If 2018 caused the FGC to slightly crank its head backward for a glance, 2019 made it stop dead in its tracks and completely turn around.

"There have been instances of countries showing up and showing up strong, but nothing to the degree that Pakistan [has done]," Chen said. "Arslan Ash winning Evo Japan and Evo back to back against the toughest competition is pretty unprecedented in any competitive genre, in my opinion, not just fighting games."

The man Chen mentioned, Arslan "Arslan Ash" Siddique, led the charge.


Other competitors from Pakistan soon followed behind Arslan: Awais "Awais Honey" Iftikhar defeated Knee at FV Cup in Malaysia after resetting the bracket in the grand final. Awais and Atif Butt participated in an all-Pakistan grand final at Tokyo Tekken Masters 2019, with Atif taking home first prize. Both Awais and Atif defeated 2019 Tekken World Tour Final winner Yuta "Chikurin" Take at the tournament. Awais won another all-Pakistan Final at RoxNRoll Dubai 2019, defeating Heera Malik, who eliminated Evo 2018 winner ​Yoon "LowHigh" Sun-woong earlier in the tournament.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 6, 2020 at 11:03am

#US #military likes violent #videogames. Over the past two decades, virtual games have had a dramatic effect on the military’s #education and #training programs, with the US Department of Defense spending US$4 billion annually. #Warfare via @ConversationUK

For some time now, the military has been using these games to train combat soldiers. Already in 1997, a US Marine General recognised that virtual games operate both on the body and mind and improve a soldier’s preparedness for combat. Consequently, he sent out a directive allowing the use of computer-based war games when training infantry troops for warfare.

Over the past two decades, virtual games have had a dramatic effect on the military’s education and training programs, with the US Department of Defense spending US$4 billion annually to develop and integrate computerised war games into the curriculum of every war college in the US. These games prepare cadets for battle by simulating the use of automated weapons.

In fact, a recent recruitment drive by the British Army targeted gamers, with one of their posters reading: “Are you a binge gamer? The Army needs you and your drive.”

The goal of the military is to vanquish its enemies using violence. But what happens when the same training platforms migrate into our homes? And how do they affect the citizens who use them daily?

Home schooling
First-person shooter games have become permanent fixtures in the private sphere, allowing millions of citizens across the globe to participate in virtual wars from the comfort of their living rooms. Indeed, around 2.2 billion gamers regularly sit at home, many playing action-packed war games, which fuse virtual boot camps with special operations aimed at eliminating enemies.

Read more: Fortnite World Cup and the rise of the esports industry

A 2015 report suggests that in the US alone, 80% of households have a gaming device and over 155m citizens play games, many of which are extremely violent. And unlike the passive consumption of other forms of violent entertainment, such as television or movies, participants in these games assume an active role. The games invite citizens, many of whom are children, to step through the screen and become virtual protagonists in the exercise of violence.

In fact, there is a striking resemblance between the games on our children’s computers and the real operation of automated weapon systems using networked information and technologies to annihilate targets, which are often located thousands of miles away, in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq.

Describing the use of computer simulations in the military, Michael Macedonia from the US Army Simulation Training and Instrumentation Command explained in an article that it “proved to be a smooth transition for younger generations of soldiers, who, after all, were spoon fed on Nintendo and computer games”.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 1, 2020 at 6:45pm

MrSoomro, Leading Gamer in Pakistan, Announces Initiative to Introduce eSports as Academic Subject in Pakistan

MrSoomro, one of the top gamers in Pakistan, today announced that he is leading an initiative to introduce electronic sports (eSports) as a subject of academic study to Pakistan. Other countries, such as the Philippines, already have college programs devoted to eSports. The move comes as eSports have been gaining traction as a serious activity and business throughout the Arab world in recent years. With over 250,000 followers on social media, MrSoomro has the social capital to influence thinking about gaming in Pakistan as well as throughout the region.

“The moment is here for Pakistan to embrace eSports as a legitimate area of study,” said MrSoomro. “The trend is well underway internationally, and we would be wise to follow suit. eSports is not just an activity, though of course it can be fun. eSports is a business, so learning about it relates to corporate and sports management study that’s a potential contributor to the economy of Pakistan.”

Indeed, according to, eSports are at a turning point in the Arab world. As the site noted, “The Arab world is leaving its mark on eSports. There are Arab players at the top of every game, including Lebanese ‘Dota2’ player Maroun ‘GH’ Merhej.” Merhej plays with Team Liquid (together with Amer “Miracle” Al-Barkawi, the Jordanian/Polish gamer) and ranks in eighth place worldwide in terms of earnings. He has won over $3 million from 36 tournaments. Media exposure for eSports in the region is also on the increase, with Meltwater News, which tracks media coverage, stating that over 4,000 news articles have been published on the subject regionally in 2020 so far.

The 22-year-old MrSoomro likes to play PUBG Mobile, though he is also preparing himself to move into more competitive environments. He maintains a presence on social media on Facebook and an active YouTube channel.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 17, 2021 at 12:55pm

#Pakistan to Legitimize #Esports by Granting it ‘Regular Sports’ Status. Pakistan has a very high rate of success in international esports. Top #pakistani players winning world competitions include Syed ‘Sumail’ Hassan and Arslan Ash. via @esportsobserved

Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Hussain, revealed this week that a memorandum has been signed between the Pakistan Sports Board and the Pakistan Science Foundation that will see esports receive a “regular sports” status. He also encouraged those with an interest in video games, tweeting “If you are interested in video games, get ready and new opportunities are waiting for you.”

The announcement follows an interview where Hussain promised to aid investors and players in their esports ventures. He also announced that the ministry would be offering certifications in animation and game development in institutes across the country to encourage the youth to be part of the industry. In addition, he also revealed the first national esports tournaments in collaboration with Waqar Zaka – a popular internet personality in Pakistan. The tournament is set to begin in March and will have private sponsors so as to avoid government bureaucracy from affecting the operations.

While interest from the government will certainly do a lot in legitimizing esports in Pakistan, the country has had a love-hate relationship with video games in the past. In July of 2020, the nation unbanned PUBG Mobile after the game had been banned for a month after a case of suicide. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) labeled the game as “addictive, wastage of time, and poses serious negative impact on physical and psychological health of children.” However, despite its minimal presence in global conversations, Pakistan has a very high rate of success in international esports. This includes Syed ‘Sumail’ Hassan’s win at The International in 2015 and Arslan Ash’s domination of the Tekken circuit in 2019.


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