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Pakistan Valorant Players Disheartened Amidst Valorant Challengers League South Asia

Sadakshi Kalyan Ramun
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Valorant esports players from Pakistan expressed their concerns about their future in the esport.
The players have questioned whether Pakistan would be moved to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Update: Riot Games officials acknowledge issues raised by Pakistan Valorant players

Esports Leader for South Asia Sukamal Pegu and Head of Valorant Esports for Asia Pacific Jake Sin replied to Valorant pro Hamza "BeasT" Shakir on Twitter regarding the Valorant Challengers League South Asia tournament. Pegu assured that Riot Games was working on a permanent solution to the issue and that more updates shall be given soon.

Meanwhile, Sin commented that “bringing LAN to our fans and players was a big priority” while acknowledging how this has alienated certain regions. He stated that he will work with Sukamal Pegu on this, adding, “Can’t promise it will be soon, as these things take time. We’ll find a way.

Additionally, Sin said that they believe in equal opportunity for all regions and noted that every player should have a path toward Valorant Champions Tour (VCT). In the meantime, he pointed out that any Challengers team can have up to two import players, including those from MENA [Middle East and North Africa]. “Not saying this is a great remedy but stating it as a simple rule that could be utilized,” he said.

(The original story continues below)

Amidst all the excitement about the Valorant Challengers League South Asia, esports athletes from Pakistan talked about the difficulties they are facing. While the rule book states players from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Maldives can take part in the tournament, the tournament organizers have made it clear that it will be the sole responsibility of the players or the teams to ensure that the players get a visa for India should they qualify for the league stage of the competition. The Pakistani players, however, claim that it will be impossible for them to show up to a LAN in India by acquiring visas, given the political climate.

Many Pakistani Valorant players and influential figures including former Reckoning Esports player Muhammad "soulM8" Usman, Moiz Saleem Khan aka MSKVal, Mustafa “Shooter” Kamal and Abdul "k1Ng" Khero shared their thoughts about the situation on social media.

Players question their future in Valorant esports

While players in the South Asian region were thrilled at the initial announcement about the Valorant Challengers League South Asia, Valorant esports players from Pakistan expressed their concerns about their future in the esport. 

On 16th January, even before the announcement by NODWIN Gaming and Riot Games, Shooter tweeted, “As a Pakistani player I am really concerned where do we stand in the upcoming challenger league for South Asia, if the event is happening in India how will we be able to participate in the LAN event?

Given the situation, the players have questioned whether Pakistan would be moved to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. k1Ng expressed his disappointment noting that Pakistani players shifted from CS: GO to Valorant in hopes of starting a better career. He said, “I believe the only sole solution would be to shift PK [Pakistan] to MENA but I believe Riot doesn't have enough time to make a decision about the Pakistani players. We knew that this would happen soon when the COVID situation eases but didn't expect this from Riot. Utterly disappointed.

MSKVal also criticized the tournament organizers for being “tone deaf” going into the Valorant Challengers League South Asia tournament without addressing “the elephant in the room.” He pointed out that the default region in-game is set to MENA for players from Pakistan but tournament organizers continue to group Pakistan in South Asia. 

Meanwhile, soulM8 announced that he is no longer a part of Reckoning Esports and that he is no longer playing Valorant competitively. On 22nd February, he said, “I'm no longer part of @ReckoningIndia VALORANT, and I'm no longer playing VALORANT competitively as all LAN/Leagues will be held in India. I have not yet seen any statement from them regarding the Pakistani region.” Talking about his future, he noted that he will be playing a few CS: GO qualifiers and will retire from gaming if he does not get a positive response regarding the region.

It is worth noting that the 2023 VALORANT Challengers MENA: Resilience Split 1 is currently underway. The tournament kicked off on 30th January for GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and Iraq, and Levant and North Africa and is set to conclude on 3rd March. So the Pakistan region getting shifted to MENA in this split is highly unlikely.

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Sadakshi has been a gamer throughout her life and has followed League of Legends since Season 3, immediately falling in love with the esports scene. Bringing in her print journalism experience, she focuses on content that is both informative and innovative. While her heart still remains with League, her love for competition has pushed her to explore other titles such as Valorant and Apex Legends.

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