After PUBG Mobile was banned in India, 18-year-old Zeyan Shafiq from Anantnag, Kashmir couldn't find any Indian teammates to play alongside him at the PUBG Mobile Pro League (PMPL) South Asia qualifiers where had secured a spot. To fulfill his wishes, Shafiq reached out across the borders and got players from Pakistan to represent the team for the qualifiers.
Shafiq owns a professional gaming outfit that goes by the name Stalwart Esports. He asked Pakistani champion Team Freestyle members to join him and they readily agreed. Though they failed to advance through the regional event, the concept that players from both countries joining hands was lauded.
They agreed. And although the India-Pakistan collaboration failed to advance through the regional event, which concluded earlier this week, it was a win-win for the fans, and Shafiq.
“If I have an option to pick a player from a country with which we don’t have good ties, but if that player is really skilled and I know if he will join my roster he can do wonders, why shouldn’t I provide a chance?” Shafiq told The Indian Express.
Apart from Shafiq’s outfit, FutureStation and Element Esports borrowed players from Bangladesh and Nepal, respectively. However, the India-Pakistan team was the highlight of the moment.
“When we took the decision, there were some negative aspects in mind as well,” said Shafiq. “If we would have faced backlash, we would have taken some action. But the majority understood that we were helpless and would have had to give up the berth. They welcomed the decision, and we were happy to continue.” he told The Indian Express.
In Pakistan, competitive PUBG was affected by COVID-19 so Team Freestyle, the inaugural Pakistani champions in 2018, readily accepted the opportunity to come together. Following a suicide case in Pakistan, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority announced a ban on the game saying it posed "a serious negative impact on the physical and psychological health of children”. The ban was imposed when Team Freestyle was supposed to play a global finals event, which they played using VPNs. Nasir, a player of the team, spent the month of July at the Islamabad High Court after filing a petition against the ban. It was his incredible effort that helped to lift the ban within a month.
There were initially some questions thrown towards Team Freestyle on why were they playing for team India. However, all tensions dissipated once the competition began. Stalwarts and Freestyle played against 19 competitors and their live chat section was showered by love from the viewers, who loved the collaboration.