Mohsin Saeed has a heartfelt conversation with the Tekken World Champion and first Red Bull athlete from Pakistan, about his harrowing journey to EVO Japan 2019 and overcoming borders and legends.
Describe how you felt after becoming the Evo 2019 Tekken champ?
It was a very emotional moment for me. I always had faith that I could win at the world’s biggest stage, but when it happened I was at loss for words. It was overwhelming as I had a flashback of my whole journey. I felt like I’ve finally achieved something great. Winning two EVOs in the same year is no small feat.
What do you think about the professional esports scene in Pakistan?
I feel my success has brought Pakistan under the spotlight. Our country was an unknown territory in terms of gaming, but now a lot of local players are getting sponsorships to go abroad.
Which other video games do you like to play?
Many people don’t know this, but before switching to Tekken, I was a national champion of The King of Fighters (KOF) XIII. I also enjoy playing Hearthstone, it’s a card game played on mobile.
How does it feel to be the first-ever Red Bull athlete from Pakistan?
Red Bull athletes are a group of the most elite athletes from around the world, so it was always my dream to become one. More importantly though, I’m happy because Pakistan is getting representation at such a high level.
What do you plan to accomplish next as a Red Bull athlete?
I’m looking forward to the Tekken World Tour Finals scheduled for December. I wish to continue my winning streak because it’ll make me the first player in the world to win two EVOs and a world championship in the same year.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge you faced in your journey so far?
I’ve never had it easy. There were countless obstacles, but the most challenging and frustrating one was getting a visa for EVO Japan. It’s very unfortunate that despite having talent, many Pakistani players don’t get sponsorship or a visa. However, in retrospect, I feel such hindrances only increased my drive to win.
What message would you give to aspiring gamers in Pakistan who wish to pursue professional esports?
Confidence is the key to success. Never be afraid of taking risks if you believe you have talent. When I took up gaming as a profession I had to put a lot on stake, but I didn’t let my fears stop me from dreaming big.