Back in June 2017, ESN in association with AY Gaming held one of the Pakistan’s biggest gaming event with a never before seen prize pool of 1 million PKR. The event was named Gaming Summit 2017 and was held at AY Gaming, Karachi. To make this event a success, Pakistan’s major brands related to Computers Parts sponsored the event. These brands include Asus and Zotac who we have also collaborated in our previous events, along with Corsair, BenQ, and Gigabyte. The tournament included games like CS: GO, DOTA2 and some other 1v1, 2v2 format games to engage as many players possible. More than 25 teams participated in the tournament from which 3 were invited by ASUS Pakistan themselves.
On August 27th, the Gaming Summit comes to an end and the organizers handed over 1 million in prize money. Most tier 1 teams were paid the winning amounts instantly whereas other tier teams were paid in a span of 2 months. The event was a great success with minimal to no trouble. The brands were happy with the exposure they received in the event and the event itself received recognition internationally.
Due to the success of the event and media coverage, this event opened the door for many possibilities in the Pakistan eSports. and the first opportunity for the Pakistan eSports to go international came right after the Gaming Summit 2017 when Zowie approached ESN to hold a qualifier for their eXTREMESLAND 2017 Tournament starting on October 19th.
The time was short and event needed to take place as this kind of opportunity doesn’t come often. Having the tournament right around the corner, ESN once again approached AY Gaming to sponsor the event at their venue.
AY Gaming, to promote the local eSports, agreed to host and sponsor the event at their venue. ESN also approached Zowie to see if they can sponsor the event. Zowie did give other countries funds to arrange the tournament along with 2 months of preparation time, however, the Pakistan’s qualifier was arranged in such a short period that they were not able to allot any budget for the event. Although they did mention to pay for the flight tickets to China and accommodation for the duration of the tournament for 6 people.
ESN acquired the license to hold the qualifiers. Due to the short time period, they were given to organizing the qualifiers, ESN decided to hold the qualifiers between the top 8 teams from Gaming Summit. The qualifiers continued for 2 days from 2nd to 4th Oct, where 8 teams battled against each other and history was repeated. VRN came out victorious.
After the Zowie eXTREMESLAND, 2017 Pakistan qualifiers were concluded, we began to see some disturbance in the gaming community. And it all began with some posts from the winning team on social media. What caused such a commotion in our gaming community was the denial of VISAs of the winning team.
VRN along with ESN went to the Chinese Embassy on 11th October to apply for the VISA and that’s where they realized that they were short of one thing. What actually happened was, Zowie provided everything that they deemed necessary for applying for the VISA to ESN, including the invitation letter on 9th October for the winning team after the tournament. But they still came on short one thing, a letter from the government of China with government’s stamp on it. This is where ESN team miscalculated. Once ESN got the invitation letter on 9th of October, they reached the embassy the next day just to find out about that the Chinese Embassy was closed. That is how they arrived on 11th Oct to the embassy and get to know about the requirements. They approached Zowie to get the letter from the Chinese government. Zowie approached the government for the letter the next day and was informed that the letter will take 5 days to process. At this moment, only a week was left before the first day of the tournament. And the tickets were booked on 10th Oct for the arrival on 16th. So, arranging the letter before the time of departure was impossible.
What played a major role in all this commotion was the time until eXTREMESLAND 2017 kicks off. ESN only had about two weeks to send the team to China after the qualifiers ended. After the qualifiers concluded, ESN had to wait till 11th Oct before they could go and apply for VISA as one of the players didn’t have their passport until 6th October and they got the invitation letter on 9th Oct. So, days kept going by.
Everyone lost hope and VRN was mentally and emotionally shattered. That’s when VRN contacted Portal (Game Zone) and requested assistance to get the VISA from Islamabad Embassy through their sources. This is when VRN also approached AY Gaming to cover the travel costs to Islamabad. AY Gaming denied baring the travel expenses as they were not aware of the third party’s promises, immediately. Tickets were rescheduled for 18th Oct on VRN’s request as they were on their way to Islamabad at their expense. But sadly, they once again failed to get the VISA on 17th Oct due to that same government letter.
After this, VRN was completely broken. They lost all the hope and were full of anger and sorrows. Due to these circumstances, the team made some clouded judgments. They start thinking that ESN and AY Gaming stopped supporting them at this stage and it was ESN’s mistake that the team couldn’t get the VISA. And this is where they took the matters to social media. And what followed was a terrible backlash from the community where everyone started bashing and abusing and organizers and sponsors with only the half side of the story.
After the VRNs assertions towards ESN and AY Gaming and the rise in heat by the community, we saw ASUS Pakistan stepping up to clear the issue which was later followed by ESN in a video.
The bottom line of writing this article is to highlight both side of the stories and what this issue has caused for the whole eSports community in Pakistan and what should we do in future to make sure no such thing happens again. We can all agree that the major factor for all the trouble was time. After the qualifiers concluded, ESN only had about 2 weeks to arrange for the VISAs and factors like those mentioned above came into play. And there’s one thing that some of the community members were not paying attention to, is that ESN couldn’t apply for VISA during the tournament because of course, we had to wait until we knew who the winners will be.
As for the community’s backlash with the half side of the story, this has caused a very major damage to the eSports in Pakistan that one might not be aware of. The community’s response towards the whole situation and towards the sponsors can make some sponsors opt-out from cooperating in future events. We have confirmation that Pakistan will get a slot in the next Zowie eXTREMESLAND event, however with regret, I would like to inform the eSports Community that we might have lost the chance to participate in another major international event.
Asus Pakistan was pursuing ASUS ROG to see if Pakistan could also get a slot in the ASUS ROG Masters event, however, Asus Pakistan has halted any operation related to eSports as of now. What happened is, you can see in the image below.
What’s happened is in the past, and it saddens us as well that VRN couldn’t represent Pakistan in Zowie eXTREMESLAND 2017. But eSports in Pakistan sure has made an impact on an international level with these events, and we could see the Pakistan’s flag behind VRN’s logo in the Zowie’s eXTREMESLAND 2017 event.
Now, we need to look forward. Hopefully, in the coming months, we will be seeing more events related to eSports in Pakistan being organized and hopefully with the sponsorships of international brands as well. To make sure, none of these situations are faced again in the future, it would be better for teams to deal with issues like these in a mature manner. And for organizers to make better preparations for events.
We, at Pak Gamers Republic, support everyone who’s contributing towards the upbringing of the eSports in Pakistan and would love to see more similar events happening throughout the country. And in the end, we would like to thanks all the organizers and sponsors for hosting such events this year in Pakistan, especially ESN and AY Gaming for hosting the Zowie eXTREMESLAND’s qualifiers in such a short period.
Image source: ESN