• 07 Dec - 13 Dec, 2019
  • Attiya Abbass
  • Interview

Fashion, sports, theatrics and films; today we can say with pride that Pakistanis have endeavoured to secure big accolades and acclaim in all avenues. With the most recent inclusion of arcade gaming to the list, our horizon looks ever-so-vast and bright. 2019 saw the rise of a new Tekken prodigy in the world; Arslan Ash. For the first time in history, Pakistan's gaming community made waves in the international arena. Although Arslan Siddique – otherwise known as Arslan Ash, had been playing Tekken competitively for quite some time, he only burst onto the international scene after defeating Tekken legend Knee at the OUG Tournament 2018, without losing a single game. Ash then followed this with a much unexpected win at EVO Japan 2019, defeating established players and later he retained his title at EVO USA 2019. Recently Arslan also made it to the pool of Red Bull athletes and became the first Pakistani talent on the list.

MAG sat down with the champion, to unearth the more personal side to him and engage in a light-hearted conversation.

How does it feel being the first Red Bull athlete from Pakistan by representing our country in the league of elite athletes?

I am really honoured to be a part of the Red Bull family. When I started e-sports gaming I always imagined how cool it will be to be associated with the brand and now when it’s happening, I am so excited. But more importantly, I am happy because for the first time Pakistan is getting representation at such a huge level.

Everyone knows you as the world champion of Tekken, but who is Arslan Ash as a person?

I am just another 24-year-old, I feel very ordinary if you ask me. I do focus a lot on my fitness and have a penchant for socialising and meeting new people. My friends think I have a good sense of humour. On the professional front, I am very competitive. I've always wanted to win at whatever I do. This often backfires but this is who I am. I've always remained on my A-game academically; this being the reason why my parents initially wanted me to pursue medicine. I also love to draw and read Urdu novels.

It is easy to assume that you played a lot of video games in childhood. Do you remember the first one?

I had a very happening childhood. I was one of those kids who always kept running around and experimenting with different things. I remember I loved playing the arcade game Puzzle Bobble.

Did you always want to become a gamer? What could have been an alternative career choice for you?

I never planned it, but I knew that I was good at it. From a very young age, I used to outperform everyone in my community. The first time I thought about it seriously was when I became the national champion back in the 10th grade. My parents always wanted me to be a doctor and so did I, but in a chain of events I ended up starting Chartered Accountancy. However, by that time I had realized where my passion was and I took a risk. Did some savings on my own, collected some funds from my friends and went abroad for my first international championship and won it. There was no going back that.

How does it feel to have so many fans all around the world?

It's a great feeling. Especially when the young kids in my community approach me for advice and when people on the streets know who I am. It makes my parents and I really proud.

You are an inspiration for a lot of young kids, but who do you look up to for inspiration?

In terms of streaming, my inspiration is Ninja (Tyler Blevins). In sports, I look up to Cristiano Ronaldo because of his work ethics and fitness level and my inspiration in gaming is Mysterio.

Many parents are reluctant or down right do not acknowledge online gaming as a serious sport. Were your parents always this supportive?

Initially, they were not supportive at all. Just like any other parents they were concerned about my future and wanted me to follow a conventional path. It was a very heart-breaking moment for me when I told my mom that this is something that I want to do and she started crying. However, l was able to convince her later and we made a deal that if I am not able to achieve something big in one year then I'll let this dream go. And here I am today. I think this pressure brought the best out of me and now my parents are really proud of me.

What is that ONE dream for you?

I want to live life to the fullest. I aspire to become the biggest ambassador of Pakistan in the gaming community and reach the levels where no other player of e-sports has ever reached.