Arslan Ash - Tekken Wizard And The Best Esports Player In The World
We first want to congratulate you for your achievements as an eSports athlete at such a young age, what a year you had in 2019. Tell us a little bit about your journey that brought you where you are today
Well, as a child, I aspired to be a doctor; however, back then gaming was all the rage and I had a talent for it. I began earning the respect of my peers and seasoned players. It was an intoxicating feeling – being admired and appreciated for a natural talent at such a young age. Eventually, I started playing in other cities like Gujranwala, Karachi etc. and then I just kept on winning multiple championships. Then in 2012, I won Pakistan’s biggest gaming championship and since then till 2018 nobody has been able to beat me I Pakistan. I realized that I needed to play abroad if I wanted to grow and so I ended up playing internationally.
Tell us more about your history with Tekken, when did you first start playing?
I started playing Tekken when I was seven or eight years old. It was the most popular game back then so I suppose in a way you could say that Tekken introduced me to the world of gaming and my talent for it.
We have an extremely limited gaming audience here in Pakistan. How do you think that will change in the coming years?
I believe that people in Pakistan have become aware of eSports as an actual sport of sorts. However, we must make it more mainstream by providing eSport athletes/gamers with brand endorsements or sponsorships. We should provide eSport events with more media coverage, amongst other things.
It is a very male-dominated industry, how do you think we can bring more diversity in it?
It is true that this is a male dominated industry. Usually girls aren’t all that inclined towards this industry; I’ve only ever seen Japanese girls being hardcore about gaming. I mean there are girls who are professional gamers – and they’re quite good – but the boys weight out the girls. In Pakistan, it’s hard for a guy to travel around in order to attend tournaments, much less girls; especially for gaming which our parents consider a distraction. Families don’t really consider eSport as a profession unless you’re related to it in the designing aspect; so I believe if we change that perception and then somehow make these games or events easily accessible and secure for the female crowd, that will definitely help with diversity. It will put the families at ease to some degree and they might even support whomsoever wishes to pursue gaming; after all, familial support is very important for us as a nation. Perhaps, if families can begin taking eSports seriously and the managers of eSport events can make these events more accessible to girls, maybe diversification will grow.
You won both Evo Japan 2019 and Evo 2019 Tekken 7 tournaments in the same year and later you were awarded the title of ESPN Esports athlete of 2019, how does it feel to achieve so much at such a young age? Is there a point of saturation, where you wonder what now?
2019 was a really great and happening year for me, gaming-wise. I achieved so much in such a short period of time and I’m really grateful to Allah for all this luck. I believe I still have much more to achieve – I have dreams of creating a gaming team in Pakistan and of elevating the status of eSports in Pakistan. So there is still a lot of work for me to do.
You have opened doors for many other players in Pakistan and in South Asia when it comes to the gaming industry, where do you see it going in the next five years, particularly in this part of the world?
Well, I think a Pakistani winning the ESPN eSports athlete of 2019, has definitely put us in a positive light for a change. And it has opened many doors for us. I’ve been sponsored and approached by various international brands like Red Bull etc. I’ve also come across various American, Korean and Japanese etc. gamers who are very eager to visit Pakistan and explore it. Of course, the COVID-19 has delayed everything but many are eager to come.
You also have your own YouTube channel which mainly focuses on your professional life. Do you plan on giving people an insight of your personal life through your channel?
I have trouble with expressing myself casually on camera; however, I do plan on uploading personal content on my YouTube channel eventually.
What’s your experience with Twitch? Is it popular in Pakistan and do we have enough audience?
I have had a great experience with Twitch; it is quite popular in the America and Europe. Twitch were the ones who actually approached me initially hence, I am quite active on it and the feedback is not so bad. However, most people in Pakistan are unaware of Twitch which was unlucky for me because I couldn’t receive any recognition or feedback in Pakistan. YouTube is more popular here; however, in terms of streaming Twitch is better
What is your favorite thing about being a professional gamer?
The traveling is my favorite part. I’ve always wanted to travel and professional gaming has helped me realize that dream.
Favorite Tekken Stage? From any of the games?
Violet Systems from Tekken 7. The avatar that I use in the games function best at this stage in terms of movement and offense.
When playing Tekken, is there anything outside of the game itself that you benefit from? Do you acquire any skills from the game that help you in your daily life?
When we’re playing Tekken, or any game in general, you have to exercise, both physically and mentally. For gamers, we lean more towards mental exercises because gaming requires strenuous mental activity; however, we have to look after ourselves physically as well in order to maintain the stamina needed to game for hours. I’ve also had the good fortune of being able to open my own gaming studio which allows me to teach and guide others, as well as, constantly engage my skills. So honestly I’d have to say that gaming is beneficial – it just varies from person to person.
Are there any players who inspire you? Tell us your favourite social media personalities that you follow
Well, amongst social media personalities I like Danish Zehen, he’s a fitness enthusiast. As for players, there is an individual who goes by the name of Mistero whom I used to follow initially but nowadays I’m not actively following anyone in terms of eSport players – I guess I just lost interest in them; I don’t actively follow anyone in Pakistan, except maybe on TikTok but nobody in particular. I also follow Sunny Chopra on social media.
PHOTOGRAPHY: TAHIR CHAUDHRY
COORDINATION: Arsalan H. Shah, CEO GAME GLOBAL ATHLETE MANAGEMENT EXPERTS