Game on: Jeddah’s geeks roll up for 50-player ‘battle royale’

The tournament is shown to the crowd of people attending the game with 50 seats to accommodate the players. (Supplied photo)
Updated 19 June 2019

Game on: Jeddah’s geeks roll up for 50-player ‘battle royale’

  • I feel like this is a very good way to celebrate geekism, says organizer Abdulla Hazmi
  • More female gamers are joining in and winning in the tournaments

JEDDAH: It is time for all geeks and gamers to leave their rooms for a venue with much bigger screens at the PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds) tournament at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

The tournament, which started on June 15, is perfect for gamers. It is shown to the crowd attending the event with 50 seats to accommodate the players.

Ahad Uz Zaman, 20, won the PUBG match held between 50 people. He told Arab News: “I am still a student and I spend most of my time playing PUBG. My mom scolds me a lot, asking me why I play this game all the time so I am glad I could put my PUBG skills to some use and make her happy.”

This tournament was not just for PUBG players — there was something for all gamers. Tournaments were held for competitive video games such as Tekken, Super Smash bros and Fifa. Mohammed Al-Jefri, who won the title for the world champion of Tekken 7 in 2018, was on hand to organize Tekken tournaments. “I have been playing Tekken since I was 12-13 years old. Never did I think I will be able to use my talent in playing Tekken to become a champion but I took the chance when it came to me.”



• PUBG is an abbreviation of PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds.

• All the PUBG matches will select players who will compete in the semifinals and finals of the tournament.

Jeddah-based YouTuber, Salman Imdad Kalyanvi, was found vlogging the event to immortalize it on YouTube. 

He told Arab News: “This is my first time attending Jeddah Season, and I can say that there is a tremendous change in comparison to the previous events that were being held in Jeddah. I am very excited to see more events and have fun this season.”

Abdulla Hazmi, a crowd organizer, told Arab News: “This event is going very smoothly and it makes me very happy — I feel like this is a very good way to celebrate the geekism in Jeddah. All the popular games are here and you can find cosplayers and fans very happy here. I am not even a gamer myself but I feel good vibes all around.”

More female gamers are joining in and winning in the tournaments, said participant Lujain Mohammed, 29. “I have been playing PUBG for a year now, it is my first time participating in a competition,” she said. “My video game addiction started from when I was a kid. That’s the thing about video games; once you get addicted there is no way out, even if you are a grown up.”

Some gamers couldn’t participate in the tournament but were still passionate about PUBG. Fahd Mohammad, 30, told Arab News: “PUBG is so popular because it’s very addictive, not monotonous. Every match is unique and PUBG keeps adding different modes to keep the game interesting. I like it because you are always playing with different players from all over the world, which helps you connect, and because it is a fun way to spend time with your friends while being distracted from the daily routine life.” Amani Al-Ghoraibi, 26, who is also a big fan of PUBG, said: “I think it’s popular because it’s a fun game that people can play anytime, anywhere and you can play with your friends or even on your own. It reminds us of the popular RPG or shooter genre that PlayStation or Xbox players usually play. I like feeling the thrill and fun of the gameplay itself. Playing with other people from around the world is also a very unique experience and makes me feel like I’m part of a community.”

When Al-Ghoraibi heard about the tournament being held she said: “I think it’s a wonderful idea! There are a lot of PUBG enthusiasts who would absolutely love to get together and share this gaming experience.”

Her brother, Rayyan Al-Ghoraibi, 19, said; “PUBG is popular mainly because it is free but also because it makes you meet up with new people and cooperate with them to win. I think it’s amazing that they are holding things like the tournaments because it shows that they care about gamers.” 

Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

Updated 20 min 43 sec ago

Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

  • Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall
  • Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics under the refugee flag

GWANGJU, South Korea: Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini, who almost drowned at sea fleeing her war-torn country four years ago, heaved a deep sigh after failing to set a personal best at the world swimming championships on Sunday.
Representing FINA’s independent athletes team, the 21-year-old looked up at the giant scoreboard and winced at her time of 1min 8.79sec in the 100 meters butterfly heats in South Korea.
“I’m not very happy actually,” Mardini told AFP.
“I had some problems with my shoulder but I’m back in training. I still have the 100m freestyle and I’m looking forward to that.”
Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall, but she has come a long way since risking her life crossing from Izmir in Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos in the summer of 2015.
Thirty minutes into that treacherous journey, the motor on their dinghy cut out and the tiny vessel, carrying 20 people rather than the six or seven it was designed for, threatened to capsize.
As the only people who could swim, Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped into the water to push and pull the stricken dinghy for over three hours until they finally reached the shore.
“I arrived in Greece in only jeans and a T-shirt,” said Mardini, who also swims in the 100m freestyle later this week. “Even my shoes were gone.”
Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics a year later under the refugee flag.
“In the beginning I refused to be in a refugee team because I was afraid people would think I got the chance because of my story,” said Mardini, who now lives with her family in Berlin.
“I wanted to earn it. But then I realized I had a big opportunity to represent those people — so I took the chance and I never regretted it,” she added.
“Rio was amazing. It was really exciting to see the reaction of people to the team. Now I’m representing millions of displaced people around the world and it really makes me proud.”
It is a far cry from life back in Syria, where rocket strikes would often shake the pool she trained at in Damascus.
“There were bomb attacks sometimes that would crack the windows around the pool,” said Mardini, who has addressed the United Nations general assembly and whose story is set to be told in a Hollywood movie.
“We were scared the whole time.”
Fellow Syrian Ayman Kelzieh was also forced to flee the country before competing at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
Returning to Korea five years later, the 26-year-old now owns a fistful of national swim records, including the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly.
“When the war started I had just moved to Damascus and I couldn’t get back home to Aleppo,” said Kelzieh, who now lives on the Thai island of Phuket.
“But even in Damascus bombs sometimes even went off at the swimming pool we trained at,” he added after taking a poolside selfie with his idol, South African star Chad le Clos.
“There were even attacks at the hotel I stayed in — I was lucky.”