Mention esports players from the Middle East and Sayed Hashem Ahmed, or “Tekken Master”, is a name that automatically comes to mind. The Bahraini is a proven world talent in the world of Tekken and is credited for popularising esports following his win at the Brasil Game Show Tournament for Mortal Kombat 11 in 2019.
But apart from that feat, significant achievements by Middle Eastern esports athletes on the world stage have been few and far between.
Mohamad Alabbas is hoping to change that at the December 18-19 Singapore 2021 Global Esports Games (GEG).
When it comes to eFootball, formerly known as Pro Evolution Soccer (PES), Alabbas is hoping to be the “Tekken Master” of the game.
The 35-year-old Syrian, based in Saudi Arabia, only recently joined the esports scene about a year ago. But he has been making a name for himself in the Middle East eFootball scene. Playing for the fancied ICE Team, he has participated in a number of eFootball leagues in the past year.
“My proudest achievement till now is to be in the top 8 in the Sneakers GS Esport competition, out of 126 players,” said Alabbas. “There were top eFootball players in the region participating in the competition and I lost to the second-ranked player.”
Although competitive gaming is something new to Alabbas, he is no stranger to the world of eFootball.
“I have been playing since 1994, when Konami released International Superstar Soccer Deluxe,” he said. “The game was released during the 1994 World Cup. As an eight-year-old child, it was inspiring to play a football game and watch the World Cup at the same time. Since then, I have fallen in love with football games.”
However, Alabbas’ love for the game perhaps went a little too far. In 2012, he quit gaming after realising that he was addicted, which was affecting his work-life.
But when the going got tough, he found solace in his first love.
In 2019, after going through a tough phase of his life, he was reunited with the game that brought him so much joy in his younger days.
“eFootball helped me pass those tough times,” he said.
This time around, instead of falling back down the path of addiction, Alabbas was able to harness his enthusiasm for the game and channel his energies to something more constructive.
However, after his long hiatus, Alabbas, felt like a fish out of water.
“In 2019, the game changed compared to what I used to play back in 2012,” he said. His unfamiliarity, coupled with an unstable internet connection, foiled his esports plans — but he was not going to give up that easily.
“In 2020, I got a good internet connection, good enough to compete online,” he said. “After just one year since returning to eFootball, I was already among the top 200 players in the European server in the myClub mode. As such, I got many offers to join esports teams and decided to join ICE team.”
Although Alabbas’ eFootball esports career is only in its infancy, he already has big dreams for himself and his region.
“My goal in my eFootball career is to be a full-time professional player and to compete at the top level,” he said. “I also want to coach. The eFootball scene in the Middle East and North Africa is evolving.Teams are shaped and leagues are being played. However, it is still a bit challenging to find professional teams with coaching.”
“I am new to the eFootball esports scene, but I am so active and eager to compete at the highest level.”
That is why Alabbas sees participating in the GEG as a huge step forward in his esports career.
“It is a great honor to participate in GEG21,” he said. “My name will be known on a global level instead of a regional level.”
The Syrian representative for eFootball 2022, who is visiting Singapore for the first time, can barely contain his excitement for the upcoming games.
“I am excited about everything regarding GEG!” he said. “I am excited about the competition and about meeting professional eFootball players and competing with them.”
Determined to make the most out of this experience, Alabbas sets his sights on a daring goal this tournament. After all, this is his chance to shine on the world stage.
“I want to be in at least the top 4 this GEG,” he said. “eFootball 2022 is a new game with different gameplay and anything could happen.”