At the moment, esports is largely centered on three sections of the world – North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist elsewhere though – and a great example of that is Pakistani player Arslan "Arslan Ash" Siddique.
Arslan "Arslan Ash" Siddique is one if not the most skilled fighting game players from Pakistan. He primarily plays Tekken and King of Fighters – and it’s the former that he is particularly known for.
A skilled Kazumi and Geese-player, he easily stands out from the crowd. After making it to the international circuit, he quickly proved himself to be a top-tier player, beating some of the world’s best with relative ease – now he is a staple name in the Tekken scene. This is how he got there:
Pakistan wasn’t really on anybody’s map as far as fighting games – or even esports – went. One man changed that – Arslan Ash. Truthfully, because of the unfortunately low standard of living and limited spending money most people have there, esports isn’t a very big concern to them – nevertheless, the country has a lot of talent and a vibrant Tekken scene.
Many of the top players in the world are either from Korea or Japan – Pakistan would have been one of the last places anyone would have looked for a champ. Thankfully, nobody had to look – Arslan Ash entered the scene all on his own.
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One of the biggest reasons Pakistani players weren’t (and still aren’t) a "thing" in international competitions is quite a mundane one – their passports. It’s difficult to leave the country for something as "frivolous" as an esports tournament – and it’s why most esports fans know few Pakistani players if any at all.
Arslan Ash also struggled with this problem, and thus couldn’t actually make his debut on the world stage until 2018, despite having played King of Fighters and Tekken for years prior to this. He quickly made his way to the top of the Pakistani rankings but struggled to move out from there – until Evo Japan 2019.
…More like ArSLAM Ash
Due to some financial issues, Arslan Ash didn’t arrive at the venue until just before the matches started – and because nobody knew who he was at the time, his plays weren’t really shown on the tournament streams either.
By the time people caught on that something big was happening, he had already defeated Tekken royalty – among others, Seong-ho “Chanel” Kang, Richard “Rickstah” Uehara and a man known as the god of Tekken – Jae-Min “Knee” Bae.
His first televised match was late in the tournament – and Arslan beat his opponent quite decisively. He just kept going – all the way to the grand finals, where he competed against Filipino legend Alexandre "AK" Laverez and took him out without losing a single round.
From Zero to Hero
Within the span of one event, Arslan Ash went from an unknown player to an absolute rockstar – yet, many still doubted him. Despite having a particular playing style that caught just about every Tekken player in the tournament off-guard, many dismissed him as lucky, a fluke, or even assumed that in no time at all, the Korean top players would figure him out.
Well, they were wrong.
What happened instead was that many of those very Korean top players found their own play improved after playing him – and they wanted to go to Pakistan to train against more players like Arslan Ash. Tekken legend Knee was one of the most prominent players to want to go – and that’s after more than a decade of winning numerous championships and sitting at the top of every leaderboard.
However, politics got in the way of Knee visiting Pakistan – so Arslan Ash flew to Japan instead to answer a challenge made specifically to him, and Knee went too. Arslan defeated every single player that he went up against – Knee was the first opponent he struggled against. Out of 47 rounds played, Arslan won 24.
It wasn’t a decisive victory – but it also wasn’t their last match those two would play against each other. Arslan Ash’s story was far from over – and it wasn’t yet decided which of them was truly the better player either.
So stay tuned for Part 2 of the life and times of Arslan Ash if you want to learn what happened next.
And if you like reading about the best and brightest in esports, check out our other pieces in our Life and Times series: