Monday, December 6, 2021

Esports: Pakistan's Arsalan Ash Wins Tekken7 Championship in Florida

Pakistan's Arsalan Ash defeated the “hometown” American hero Hoa “Anakin” Luu in a thrilling Grand Finals set to win first place in Tekken 7 at CEO 2021 in Florida. Arsalan won every single match without dropping a single game. This came against some of America’s top players, including EVO 2021 Online champion Marquis “Shadow_20z” Jordan. Known for his ability to use several different characters, Arslan Ash stuck with Zafina for the entirety of the CEO 2021, according to a report in EsportsTalk

Arsalan Ash Siddique at CEO 21 Game Competition in Florida. Source: Arsalan Ash

CEO 2021 was the first major fighting game tournament since the start of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The victory is Arslan Ash’s first major win in the United States since his memorable performance at EVO 2019 in Japan. It is also the second offline event he has won in 2021 after taking 1st at WePlay Ultimate Fighting League last April. 

Prior to the latest win at CEO 21, Arslan Ash Siddique won three top ESports awards, including Player of the Year award for 2019, according to In December awards, Aslan Ash won the Best Esports Player award under both the fan and ESPN choice categories. He was also the first-runner for Best Moment of the Year award in the fan poll. The nomination was based on his EVO wins.

Arslan Ash Siddique at EVO Japan 2019

Esports have risen to the level of other major international sports with multiple international tournaments. The total prize money in international tournaments now exceeds a billion US dollars. Esports leagues have sprung up in many countries including Pakistan. Esports Pakistan (ESPK) is a growing E-Gaming organization which organizes national esports competitions at its Gaming Arena at Royal Palm, Lahore.

Arslan put Pakistan on the esports map following his surprise first-place victory in Tekken 7 at EVO Japan 2019 and EVO 2019. Before October 2018, Ash, the Pakistani Tekken 7 phenom, had never competed in a major international tournament. Now, at the end of 2019, he is an international star and the only person to ever win the Evolution Championship Series Japan and its American counterpart in  Las Vegas the same year.

Arslan is not the only successful Pakistani esports competitor on the world stage. 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 the 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.

Here's a video of Arsalan's competition at CEO 2021 Finals in Florida:


 Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistani Esports Player Among World's Top Earners 

Mobile Game Industry in Pakistan

Pakistani Investors: Invest in Local Tech Startups

Invest in Pakistan Summit in Silicon Valley

Upwardly Mobile Pakistani-Americans

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan


Riaz Haq said...

VS Fighting X Winner 2022: Arslan Ash

The Red Bull Player from Lahore might be primarily known for his Tekken prowess and a garage full of championship trophies and accolades, but he’s no slouch when it comes to King of Fighters too. In fact, he was known for his KOF skills in the local circuits before speeding to the top in Tekken.
Ash has continued to place in the finals in KOF tournaments around the world but hadn’t won any major one. That changed on August 20, 2022, Ash won the VS Fighting X tournament held by Electronic Dojo in Birmingham, England.
What made the victory even sweeter was that it was Ash’s 26th birthday. Winning a major tournament in a different game than you’re known for; who needs cake after that?

Riaz Haq said...

In most cases when it comes to tech, India’s spending and investment are ahead of Pakistan’s by leaps and bounds. In the case of gaming, however, the average spend per person in Pakistan is $5.67 which is lower than most countries but at par with India, claims Intenta Digital.

However, ranked 34 with $5.2 million in prize money, Pakistan is 10 points — $1.7m — ahead of India in terms of esports earnings, according to But the industry is not flouring as it could be.

The glow of Pakistan’s cricketing triumph over India, be it the Championship trophy or the World Cup, does not fade away with time. But the clashes between the age-old rivals (India & Pakistan) are not limited to the cricket field, extending into the virtual world.

Esports are multiplayer video games played competitively by professional gamers and watched by spectators. It’s a $1 billion-plus market globally, growing at a double-digit compound growth rate annually.

It comes under the wider auspices of video gaming, an industry that is projected to reach $227 million by 2026 in Pakistan, according to Singapore-based Intenta Digital. To put it in context, this is roughly the value of exports generated by the famed Sialkot sports goods.

“Esports is close linked to gaming. Pakistan is amongst the highest countries ranking in terms of league sports. There are people like Ash who come from humble backgrounds but have made their mark internationally,” says Samar Hasan, co-founder of Epiphany Games.

In most cases when it comes to tech, India’s spending and investment are ahead of Pakistan’s by leaps and bounds. In the case of gaming, however, the average spend per person in Pakistan is $5.67 which is lower than most countries but at par with India, claims Intenta Digital.

However, ranked 34 with $5.2 million in prize money, Pakistan is 10 points — $1.7m — ahead of India in terms of esports earnings, according to But the industry is not flouring as it could be.

Industry mistrust

While the industry is growing, it contends with the inefficiency and corruption that are endemic to most sectors of the economy.

“There have been cases where the tournament registration fees (usually about Rs1,000-1,500) have not been enough to cover the cost of prize money,” says Mahreen “EngineerBunny” Butt, Esports host, analyst and caster.

The money is spent on fancy settings and lightning equipment instead of substance, she rants. A lot of the tournaments are more about marketing than about the sports which is hampering its growth.

Another example is the case of a local company breaking a non-disclosure agreement with an international company to make a quick buck.

“We are not trusted,” says Ms Butt. “A foreign company’s desktop graphics card that had not been formally launched into the market was made available to a local company under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Breaking the NDA, the graphic card was sold at a much higher value than the price at which it was supposed to be sold. Since then, the industry has lost the trust of international companies.”

State patronage or the lack thereof

What does Arshad Nadeem, Sialkot’s FIFA football and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy have in common? Global acclaim without state patronage.

Pakistan’s former federal minister for science and technology Fawad Chaudhry had last year announced that esports will be recognised as a sport for which a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Pakistan Sports Body and the Pakistan Science Foundation.

Mr Chaudhry announced the Free Fire Pakistan League (FFPL) — the first national esports initiative in Pakistan, sponsored by Singaporean game developing company Garena. The fourth season of FFPL kicked off this month.