Nepal | July 14, 2020

Nepal’s PUBG mobile warriors battle for glory; lockdown, coronavirus cannot stop them

Thousands watch the online game back home as teams including Elementrix, Solti fight fiercely for PUBG Mobile Open Club prize

Nischal Niraula
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Kathmandu, June 6

Nepali squad Elementrix along with four other teams are in India for the ongoing PUBG Mobile Pro League, a professional tournament for the South Asia region that began on March 19.

Around 20 teams from countries like Nepal, India and Bangladesh are battling it out for the first place prize money of $10,000 in the first phase, then a whopping $40,000 in the second phase of the same tournament.

After Elementrix along with another Nepali squad Solti left a global mark at the PUBG Mobile Open Club 2019 (PMOC) with their excellent display of virtual gunmanship, there is a lot of support back home for Elementrix in this tournament.

Thrill’s the same

For the uninitiated, the notion of video game tournaments attracting millions of viewers might seem odd.

One might question — “Why waste time watching someone else play a videogame instead of playing it yourself?”

But human beings have been taking delight in watching competitive sports for thousands of years from the sparring of Roman gladiators to the ancient Athenian Olympics.

And watching two squads battle it out in the virtual arena of PUBG isn’t a whole lot different from enjoying a decent game of FIFA or NBA, at least that’s what Ayush Karki, a 19-year-old pundit of PUBG says.

Young audience

It is mostly the teenagers and young adult males that make up the audience of PUBG tournaments.

As per Sumin Shrestha, General Representative of Nepal eSports Association,  for PUBG tournaments like PUBG Mobile Nepal Series (PMNS) organised by Rock Nation, and PUBG Mobile Nepal Championship (PMNC) organised by Vigilante eSports, the audience consisted mostly of people ranging from the ages of 15-30 years, while the male to female ratio was 3:1.

Battle royale: Rise of Nepali teams

Another PUBG enthusiast Pravin Bhatta, 23 attributes the unprecedented popularity of the battle royale game to international tournaments.

Bhatta, who started his virtual military journey about two-and-a-half years ago, recalls thinking PUBG is “just another game with not a lot of hype surrounding it”.

However, things changed around a year ago when Nepali squads like Solti and his personal favourite, Elementrix, left a global mark at PMOC 2019.

“It was probably the first time Nepali gaming squads reached such heights competing and representing Nepal on a global stage,” he observes, “As the news of these squads giving global exposure to Nepali e-sports travelled around the country, the curious crowd started downloading and playing the game for themselves.”

Limitless options to get hooked

Given the addictive nature of the game, made evident by the game itself issuing a health hazard warning after a gamer plays for more than six hours a day, it’s safe to assume that many have not stopped.

After getting his fill of playing the game for a quarter of the day with his clan, Karki quickly switches to YouTube to catch updates of current tournaments happening all over the world.

If there is a Nepali squad in the tournament, he roots for them and finds it “pleasing to see my fellow countrymen represent Nepal in a game I adore so much”.

And if he doesn’t catch any familiar names, he keeps an eye out for the best performing team(s), watching and learning from every move they make, trying to hone his own gaming skills in the process.

Many who want to learn new gaming techniques or just sit back and enjoy a delightful display of virtual gunmanship will find it best achieved through tournaments.

“When an average player shoots, he most probably misses some, but when you watch the pro-gamers at play, you can expect them to unload all 30 of their bullets perfectly at their target, and that’s highly enjoyable to watch,” opines Bhatta, a resident of Basundhara.

Now, mostly free due to the lockdown, Bhatta informs that his hours spent on PUBG have significantly increased with him playing the game with his friends for up to six hours a day, and watching tournament matches for up to four hours.

Bhatta is currently following the PUBG Mobile Pro League and rooting for homegrown squad Elementrix.

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