Side view close-up of Tekken player Arslan Ash wearing red bull cap and shirt
Side view close-up of Tekken player Arslan Ash wearing red bull cap and shirt

From getting his U.S. visa to winning CEO, Arslan Ash is on top of the world

by Tim Lee

Arslan Siddique is on top of the world. The Pakistani Tekken professional player that goes by the name Arslan Ash is usually on top of the standings in Tekken tournaments, but with his recent United States visa approval, the opportunity to conquer more than his region and the occasional international tournament is finally here.

Arslan Ash put his name on the map in 2019 after winning Evo and Evo Japan. His victory in Tekken at Community Effort Orlando (CEO) earlier this month is more than just a major tournament win, it signifies that the Tekken scene will see a lot more of the wunderkind in 2022.

Nerd Street Gaming caught up with the freshly globetrotting Tekken phenom to get his thoughts on his recent victories in life and in the game, the state of Tekken and what’s next for him.

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Nerd Street: What does your recent USA visa mean for your competitive season? How much of an impact do you think this means for international players that are trying to emulate your traveling potential?

Arslan Ash: I was invited to Red Bull Kumite, and I applied for a visa but did not get it in time. Before CEO, the USA embassy called me and got me the visa and I was so happy. I think the USA is the biggest market for esports and invitationals and majors. It was a very great achievement and now with this visa, I can easily go to the USA, and it’s a dream come true.

Because I’m able to attend tournaments in the USA, more players may want to come too. It was a very difficult process to just apply for a visa every time and then wait for approval because you must fill the form online and pay a fee as well as select a date, then go to the embassy that is a two-hours flight just to interview for the chance to get approved. I applied three times and because I had a bigger social media following, they asked about my socials and were very happy about my popularity.

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Nerd Street: As one of the figureheads for Pakistan’s fighting game community, how much pressure is there to perform well? How do you manage it, and do you get any kind of motivation out of knowing you represent your country? While performing and placing well is a type of message, what would you like your competitors to know about the players from Pakistan?

Arslan Ash: I don’t feel any pressure representing Pakistan. I have pressure representing FATE Esports and Red Bull, but even though Pakistan matters to me I do not feel pressure. I’m where I am because of Pakistan, and it makes me happy when people say I am the pride of the country. It excites me that I can get more opportunities if I can continue to win.

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It’s a natural thing for Pakistan to be good at Tekken because many people play Tekken, and it inspires more people to play the game. In Pakistan, people don’t like to focus on top-tier characters, but in international tournaments I get to play against the best characters. The mind games and passion of the players in Pakistan is awesome, so we just play at 100 percent even in casuals. I am very confident after training and playing with my teammates and community because we must change our gameplay every day.

He lists the following players that people should keep notes on: Dawood, Adeel, Atif, Butt, and Dajon.

I’m so happy to see [Muhammad "Farzeen" Farzeen] do so well at CEO.

Nerd Street: Do you think Tekken is in a healthy place both competitively and regarding its popularity? Where do you think it can improve or do you think the community is waiting for the next iteration? As a player that chose Tekken as their game, what gravitated you toward this franchise?

Arslan Ash: It’s boring right now because there’s nothing happening with the game – no balance patches and such so people have stopped playing the game. I hope they introduce a new season pass or balance patch to change the meta. Do something for the game. The game is still good, it has a lot of mind games, and if they ask me if I want new players to come in, of course I would say you can start the game.

I think it might be time to give us Tekken 8 because all they can really do is change the current characters or introduce a new character. Maybe it might be time since it’s been over six years.

Photo credit: Drew Gurian / Red Bull Content Pool

Nerd Street: CEO was a great accomplishment, but what other tournaments or competitions are on your list to conquer? How was the transition from online to offline and what were the notable differences?

Arslan Ash: CEO, in Tekken especially, is one of the few tournaments that would have a big player pool. I wanted to win this badly because I had a chance to perform after two years, and I was looking forward to my performance. I wanted to win for my teams.

I want to win Combo Breaker and Rev Major. I think Combo Breaker is one of the best organized and competitive tournaments, and Rev Major is the Philippines’ yearly event that I heard had the best players in terms of numbers in the world.

I’ve been playing offline the entire time and never online, and having people saying I had an advantage gave me added motivation. If you’re in Japan, playing online didn’t really have too much of a difference. The reason I don’t play online is because it is difficult to do so in Pakistan. There was some advantage because I was used to the offline scene for two years.

Nerd Street: Who do you consider to be in the top shelf of competition and why do you think they separate themselves from the rest?

Arslan Ash: [Hoa "Anakin" Luu] is a top player because of his adaptation and gave me a tough time in the CEO finals. [Jae-Min "Knee" Bae] and [Genki "Gen" Kumisaka] because both are playing very well recently and are in good shape. Gen is playing a top-tier character and not wasting his time with worse characters and playing to win; his reactions are very good, and I can understand from just watching him play that his mind games are unique.

Nerd Street: Now that competitions are starting up again, what is next for Arslan Ash?

Arslan Ash: I have been planning to play King of Fighters 15. In Pakistan, because we have so many players with great mind games and good minds in general, we have the potential to do well in King of Fighters. I love the franchise and the characters.

Lead photo credit: Patrick Maloney / Red Bull Content Pool

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