We sat down with Saad “PokemoN” Ahmed and talked about his experiences in the Pakistani CS:GO scene and what it feels like being a part of the Portal Esports organisation.

PGRepublic : How did you begin your journey in CS:GO?

PokemoN : My journey in Counter-Strike:Global Offensive began a little late. When the game first came out, I started playing Dota 2 instead. I played Dota 2 for almost 4 years until one day, out of nowhere, my uncle Zaps, tells me that we’re going to play a tournament at Gooline with some of his friends. I said fine, why not. It was a silver league or something, I can’t recall exactly; we managed to win that. After that I started playing CS:GO more regularly. I joined Team Stormloop because there were players like “Xerts” who was a friend from Counter-Strike Source. We practised daily and tried to be a proper team but could not prosper and with some added personal issues led to the team disbanding.

From Stormloop to Portal Esports, how has the transition to the best team in Pakistan been?

The Counter-Strike 1.6 scene was nowhere close to the CS:GO scene right now because of platforms like FACEIT and all. CS 1.6 was mostly local competition, Karachi Vs Lahore and stuff like that. However, the 1.6 scene was better in a single way that there were mature people handling and managing the community. I might have been 1 out of the 2 kids(young players) playing proper 1.6 at that time, 2nd being “Dragoon”. Whereas today, the scene is full of youngsters.

What do you think is the main factor that affects Pakistani Counter-Strike growth?

Okay, so first of all, we need better connectivity and routing, there is no way we beat players playing the online qualifiers at 5ms pings with 100ms pings ourself. However, for Pakistani CS to grow, we need individuals who are loyal, to their teams, dedicated to the game and as well as passionate about it. The main problem is that individuals do not understand the game, CS is a team game and to win, you have to always keep your teammates in mind. For instance, you die because of a stupid reason, and you shout on the mic you bring your teams morale down and technically reducing the chances of winning the match (that’s how you choke as well). Talent has never been an issue for Pakistan, It’s the amount of trust in your teammate, and whether you are willing to communicate with your teammates or not. So yeah, in short, For Pakistani CS to grow we have to focus on our personalities more than our in-game abilities.

Portal Esports has recently gone through another roster change, how is the new lineup shaping up to be?

As I said before, talent is not an issue in the Pakistani scene. So the roster change does not concern me much, however, there are only a few differences such as our team’s environment, it is way better and there is no need of an aspirin after every game.

How does it feel being part of an organisation like Portal Esports?

It just feels plain AMAZING. Portal Esports as an organisation has started a revolution for the Pakistani esports scene. Providing gears, salaries, travelling expense coverage and what not. Portal is actually attracting all the big players in esports towards Pakistan and I think that’s something we all need to appreciate. I have been a gamer for more than half of my life, and I always dreamed how grand it would feel to be paid to just play games, and for me, Portal made that happen.

A slot at the IEM closed qualifiers, how well do you think you and your team can cope with international competition?

Our team as of now is very talented, and I think we will do pretty decent in the qualifiers. As you know we just went under a roster change and haven’t had enough time to boot camp and practice because of all the events that are being stacked up, but I can guarantee you that the curse will be broken soon and Pakistan will have an international title in no time.

Lastly, do you think the talent pool in Pakistan has the potential to make it big in the international scene? If yes, then what is keeping it from doing so now?

The talent pool is overflowing in Pakistan. We are brought up in such aggressive environments that our egos are very sensitive and we can’t bear it if our teammate is getting the highlights. The lack of trust in teammates and the urge to make individual plays is too great in Pakistan. Players work on their aim all day but very few give time to download and watch their demos and understand what needs to be done at a certain stage of the game. Another major reason is maintaining a roster, being mature and mutual understanding with your teammates and relaying the issues properly and working on them as a team, instead of taking them to your heart and causing more issues in your team.

PGRepublic would like to thank Saad “PokemoN” Ahmed for taking time out and talking about his experiences and valuable insight. We would also like to thank Portal Esports and their efforts towards creating such wonderful opportunities and avenues for aspiring gamers in Pakistan.