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Saying to this youngster that being a champion at the Safaricom E-Sports tournament would have been a reality would have been a fat lie. Fahad Ali, age 20, was born in Taveta and has been a huge fan of video games since childhood. But saying that he was good enough in the games particularly in FIFA is far from the truth.

The Journey

Born from a humble background, Fahad was not lucky enough to have a console to call his won. But his desire to indulge in these games was never cut short as he would gather with friends in shops where they offered time to play for a fee (“base za PS”).

Speaking to Gadgets Africa, Ali did confess that he wasn’t what you would call a ‘born talent’.

I used to play with my friends but I was so bad at it that they would refuse to even play against me.

“I used to play with my friends but I was so bad at it that they would refuse to even play against me. They saw as if I was wasting their time.”  He, later on, had to move with his family to Mariakani in the coastal areas of Kenya. The move to Kilifi county unfortunately then forced him to stop playing for a while.

Luckily enough, his older brother opened a gaming centre of his own and he got back to the playing for free. As he continued playing with a new friend of his, he was able to sharpen his skills to a certain level and he eventually became a challenger.

“With time, I got so good that people at the shop would refuse to play with me. This was especially when I would propose to play loser (‘I win you pay’).

Having earned the championship among his peers, Fahad was invited by friends to take a chance at the tournament’s first rounds at his home town. 

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Safaricom BLAZE E-Sports Tournament

During the first round, he was lucky enough to play against one of his friends but not so lucky that he lost to him. Little did he know, that would be a stepping stone as for his forthcoming victory.

“I was at the venue at Mombasa by 8 in the morning for another chance to prove myself again.”

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Fahad Ali with friends at the Safaricom E-Sports tournament in Mombasa | Image Courtesy BLAZE

Playing against 12 other young players for the ultimate prize was not as easy as he would have expected. As the rounds went on, Fahad was handed to challenge an opponent for a third match that he lost. This meant more pressure as he was sent to probation (losers bracket).

With time, I got so good that people at the shop would refuse to play with me.

With the European champions, Liverpool as his choice, all he had then was to fight his way out the danger bracket. Luckily enough, he did that and commenced his way to the finals. With a 3-5-2 formation, he decided to switch to Paris Saint Germaine (PSG) that got him to come out in second place at the championship.

Expressing his admiration for world E-Sports champions, he is one that loves reading his opponents first.

“Most players in the football simulator tend to go straight to attacking. They do get to win at first rounds only to be defeated later on. I do concentrate a lot on the midfield areas when playing and make sure I have enough strength both for defence and for attacking.”

Safaricom Esports tournament

Image Courtesy BLAZE

Inspiration

Asked about his love for the game, he definitely expressed his desire to have E-Sports as a full-time career. “I am ready to train and make myself as familiar to the competitions as possible. In the coastal regions, the youth are lost to drugs and crime and having such opportunities would be a great thing for us to explore.”

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The gaming culture in Kenya is a growing phenomenon that already earns the country billions of shillings. Young players like Fahad are very much willing to explore endless opportunities. Having pro-gaming as a full-time career is one that Fahad has been put into thought and would happily jump on.

“I am ready to train and participate in various other tournaments as I believe in my skills. Growing further to even international platforms is definitely a dream I have.” Fahad added on.

With the BLAZE tournament being a definite eye-opener to the what can be achieved. But with corporations in the country still being hesitant in venturing in the gaming industry, the journey ahead for the industry and pro gamers is still long but the light is already shining.

The young champ is not one to mince his words when referring to global FIFA FUT champions like Donovan ‘F2Tekkz’ Hunt who at the age of 17 has won in countless competitions around the world.

As the champion, Fahad is a die-hard Liverpool fan who has been watching Tekkz for years now and would very much get close to where he is.

“I understand the competition is tough and to get to great heights you have to take a couple of punches. But every champion in every field has gone through that and having had a taste of it, I would still be willing to take the risk.”

We definitely do hope to see more of Fahad Ali in future Esports tournament, always winning.

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