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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Arsalan Ash: Pakistan’s King of Tekken appears on Redbull “Unfold”

From being somebody whose mere existence was unknown to the World, to entering the Evo Japan as an unseeded player, to going through a brutal qualifier and winning the entire thing, to beating the previous Tekken's greatest player "Knee" in the finals of Evo, This is the story of Arsalan 'Ash' Siddique.

As part of its “Unfold” series, Redbull gaming has done a mini-documentary on the life and journey of Arsalan Ash, the 25-year-old from Lahore, Pakistan, who is currently the Worlds best player of the popular game Tekken.

Arsalan Ash first rose to prominence when he won the Evo Japan tournament. What was particularly interesting about this was that this was his first international tournament. In a lineup stacked with some of the Worlds best players, he was the one to rise on top.

However, he didn’t just stop there. He then went on to win the Evo finals as well (the game’s biggest tournament on a global scale). Since that, he has won plenty of tournaments around the World.

However, one thing a commentator said during his matches was, “talent such as this does not come from a void, there must a strong community of players in Pakistan that no one knows about”. These words were what shifted the attention of the entire Tekken community towards Pakistan.

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Since then, plenty of Tekken players from Pakistan have come under the spotlight, and in a recent tournament in Ukraine, both the finalists were from Pakistan. Players now come from the World over to Pakistan to learn the famous “Pakistani Style of Tekken.”

In the mini-documentary, Arsalan talks about how gaming was the first thing he learned as a child and is the only thing he has been doing since. There was an arcade opposite his house, which he started visiting regularly.

Early Life

He, however, soon started to being feared among the players there due to his incredible talent. He was taken by his friends to tournaments in the country just to destroy anyone who stepped in his way.

Realizing this was a way for him to earn money, it ignited his passion even further. Sometimes he even slept in the gaming centers to maximize his training time.

He said that he got his spirit for winning from his mother, who always pushed him to be number one and not settle for anything else. His mother, who herself was the running champion during her school days.

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His father wasn’t always very supportive of his gaming and stopped him from going to arcades. However, after he passed away, Arsalan now had more freedom to pursue his dreams.

Gaming in Pakistan

He credited playing his talented friends in the country to his skill. Training with them helped him improve. He wished the government would support the Tekken scene in Pakistan as there is a lot of potential to tap into a huge source of revenue.

Since Covid and travel restriction, the players have had to face some issues, forced to play online, which is particularly troublesome in Pakistan due to lag issues.

To help the Tekken community in Pakistan, Arsalan rented a room where he invited players from around the country to train, rent-free. All the players credit him solely for the existence of a Tekken community in Pakistan.

When asked what his future aspiration was, he hoped that one-day people would say, “There came a boy from Pakistan who left his mark on history.”