How Pakistan gamers joined hands for Kashmiri’s Indian PUBG team


Written by Gaurav Bhatt
| New Delhi |

November 13, 2020 12:35:18 am

pubgAnantnag resident Zeyan Shafiq, the proprietor of the eSports team Stalwarts eSports which fielded Pakistani gamers to characterize the Indian team on the PUBG Mobile Pro League. (Special association)

HIS E-SPORTS enterprise in disarray after the PUBG ban in India, a Kashmiri teenager reached out throughout the border — and received gamers from Pakistan to characterize his team for the qualifiers of a professional league.

Two months in the past, Stalwart Esports, knowledgeable gaming outfit owned by 18-year-old Zeyan Shafiq from Anantnag, secured India a slot within the PUBG Mobile Pro League (PMPL) South Asia qualifiers. But with its roster of Indian gamers unavailable to compete with the favored cell recreation banned since September on account of considerations over its hyperlinks to Chinese firms, Shafiq reached out to members of the Pakistani champions, Team Freestyle.

Team Freestyle. (Special association)

They agreed. And though the India-Pakistan collaboration didn’t advance by means of the regional occasion, which concluded earlier this week, it was a win-win for the followers, and Shafiq.

“When you have got the determination nothing could stop you, not even the ban!!!! Divided by borders and disputes, united by esports,” learn the announcement by Stalwart Esports on Twitter final month. “If I have an option to pick a player from a country with which we don’t have good ties, but if that player is really skilled and I know if he will join my roster he can do wonders, why shouldn’t I provide a chance?” Shafiq instructed The Indian Express from Anantnag.

He mentioned that he hasn’t let go of his Indian gamers — “they are my family” — and with PUBG slated to relaunch quickly with a shift to Microsoft, the rendezvous with Pakistan stays a one-off. Shafiq’s outfit wasn’t the one Indian team to look for assist from neighbours. FutureStation and Element Esports borrowed gamers from Bangladesh and Nepal, respectively. But the apprehension round Pakistani gamers representing an Indian team was excessive, says Shafiq. “When we took the decision, there were some negative aspects in mind as well,” mentioned Shafiq. “If we would have faced backlash, we would have taken some action. But the majority understood that we were helpless and would have had to give up the berth. They welcomed the decision, and we were happy to continue.”

In Pakistan, in the meantime, the aggressive PUBG season had been ravaged by Covid and a ban of their very own in July. So Team Freestyle, the inaugural Pakistani champions in 2018, jumped on the alternative.


“We received Stalwart’s email and thought it would be a great opportunity,” mentioned Abdul Haseeb Nasir, aka Black within the PUBG circuit. “It was a lot of fun. Our performance was up and down but experiences like these help you form bonds. They are from India, we are from Pakistan. But we were getting support from both countries.” Nasir, who performed under-16 cricket in Rawalpindi earlier than PUBG took precedence, is a 20-year-old cult determine in Pakistan — not solely due to his digital exploits but in addition because the “saviour” who helped raise the ban in his nation on the favorite recreation of thousands and thousands. On July 2, citing a suicide case, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) introduced the ban stating that “the game is addictive, wastage of time, and poses a serious negative impact on the physical and psychological health of children”.

This transfer got here on the cusp of a Global Finals look for Team Freestyle, who needed to compete over Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). The ensuing lag and knowledge loss meant they stood no probability in a recreation dictated by split-second frames. Nasir spent many of the remainder of July on the Islamabad High Court after submitting a petition in opposition to the ban. “I stood in the sun for days, engaged in a legal battle trying to convince that this is nothing illegal. People often say ‘this is a game about guns and killing people, don’t let your kids play’. I argued that this is just a game. Banning it will only be detrimental for Pakistan,” mentioned Nasir. “The ban was lifted within a month and people who didn’t even play competitively knew that Black from Freestyle did this.”

That neighborhood, nonetheless, threatened to activate Team Freestyle when Stalwart got here calling. “We were getting some hate initially. For Stalwart, the question was ‘why are you picking players from Pakistan?’ For us, it was ‘why are you playing for India?’” mentioned Nasir, who pacified his supporters by reminding them that they are going to be addressed as “players from Pakistan”.

Team Freestyle. (Special association)

“We explained that the slot is because of India, but Pakistan is being represented in the competition. We said ‘instead of four teams from Pakistan, now there were five. You should be happy’,” he mentioned. Tensions dissipated as soon as the competitors started. Over 4 days and in opposition to 19 opponents, Stalwart Esports ebbed and flowed. But the stay chat was flooded with viewers professing love for the India-Pakistan collaboration.

Shafiq believes the exhibiting bodes properly for South Asian groups, a area which has traditionally struggled in opposition to heavyweights from East and Southeast. “I do understand there are political disputes. But this is high time we rise above them and show some unity, at least in the gaming aspect. There were many negative comments because India and Pakistan joined forces. But overall, the reaction was mature,” mentioned Shafiq. “I will sum it up with one comment I saw: ‘India + Pakistan = OP (overpowered).”

“There might be problems between the countries, but this unites us,” asserts Nasir. “Believe me, we have as many supporters from India as we do from Pakistan. Every day they reach out to us via DMs, and you can’t explain how it feels. In those moments, it doesn’t matter who is from India or Pakistan. The love we get is the same from both.”

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