It is not the best of times to write this passage. For the first time in almost 4 years of competitive PUBG Mobile, 2 Pakistani teams shall be battling it out in the PUBG Mobile Championship (PMGC), with one of them going through at the expense of the best of South Asia. But, in this moment of elation, it is necessary to address a prominent occurrence that shall hurt the growth of the PUBGM scene.
I was watching the stories of competitive players when I came across one announcing the retirement of a player called Faster. Normally, I would move on to the next story. But this time, I paused to ponder. This wasn’t some average player hanging his boots after a few months of failures. We are talking about a player who, in a space of 3 years, had risen from an underdog team to one of Pakistan’s best teams, a player who had won the inaugural PUBG Mobile Pro League (PMPL) Pakistan. This player had done a 1 v 4 to South Asia’s best team Stalwart Esports. For them to just quit the scene randomly obviously hints towards some heartbreaking restrictions.
In 2020, Pakistan made its global debut in the PUBGM arena when Freestyle esports played the PUBG Mobile World League (PMWL). The team would finish 17th in its maiden appearance. 3 years on, 3 of the players have retired from PUBGM, one is on the brink of following them and the other 2 are without a team. At the same time, 6 different Indian teams participated in the tournament as well. The majority of those players are still playing, either with the same team or the same players. A few left the game to pursue content creation or pick up the family business or study, but the vast remained to prosper and a few would represent India again at the global stage. Bear in mind that PUBG Mobile was banned in India, an Indian Version called BGMI was released and subsequently banned as well and yet the vast majority stuck with the game.
Pakistan didn’t see the long ban periods that India did and yet, each season we lose the best players to retirement. Before the PMPL Pakistan fall, Spark, one of the best in-game leaders (igl) retired. Before that, a very good assaulter, Sirius, had bid farewell to the game, though he would return later on. Another few notable players include Insane, Johnny and Joker. Before each season commences, multiple teams are deprived of the best of igl’s, assaulters and support players and many teams break up, depriving the country of more global opportunities.
It is by no means to say that the retirements are unjustified. No player loves to leave the thing that they love, especially if they are the best. Various conditions force them to do so. Some have to support their families, others have to pursue their education or run the family business. But this trend is undoubtedly concerning. As Pakistan enters the global arena with 2 behemoths, one can’t help but think whether the same sight would be present next year. More importantly, whether the same flag bearers would be present or not.