Looking back, I can clearly remember, thinking that there was no way video games could get any better than this.
I was wrong.
Fast forward to the present, I realise that a younger version of me would be awed at the sheer number of gaming titles, platforms and the overall innovation that exists now.
Present me, however, is just used to it. Offline games are abundant, and what excites the masses now are online multiplayer games.
These online multiplayers have created their own genre of entertainment, referred to as “Competitive Gaming” or in more recent times “esports”. Esports are vastly popular worldwide, with audiences paying to watch other people play video games in tournaments.
While the Western World has embraced esports, even after an initial reluctance to do so, here in Bangladesh there is no proper esport scene. That is to imply, that while competitive gaming exists in Bangladesh, there are no Electronic Sports League (ESL) or “The International” level tournaments taking place here.
However, even with the setback of a lack of properly organized or funded tournaments, competitive gamers in Bangladesh have continued to showcase their resilience to such obstacles.
The players, usually aged between 16-26 years of age, spend hours honing their craft; their end goal being to become the best at their respective games.
The results of their labour has been the success of our local teams in foreign tournaments.
Their success is now inspiring a generation of young gaming enthusiasts, who also wish to try their hands at competing at the highest level.
Therefore, the purpose of this guide will be to inform newcomers about the competitive scene, the requirements for players looking to commit to it and the games and respective communities which are currently thriving.
While many a competitive game exists, and are widely played all over the world, Bangladesh does not house competitive communities for all of them. The reasons are many, but the major one being that there isn't as much of a demand for certain games as there are for others.
So here is a list of some of Bangladesh's most popular and successful competitive games:
1. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO): Counter-Strike has set its legacy into stone and become a staple of Bangladesh's competitive scene. Previous incarnations of the game had garnered massive popularity through their presence in LAN gaming cafes. The most recent version of the game continued the legacy with an even larger community than before and even more tournaments available since its inception.
What CS:GO does really well, is that even in its base form, as just a game, it gets player's competitive spirits all worked up. The bread and butter of the game is competitive matchmaking, which can be either played solo or with any combination of team mates. The rank system also gives players an additional feeling of achievement which motivates them to keep getting better till they rank up.
For a player trying to get into CS:GO, all of the major requirements such as motor skills, aim and in game knowledge can be achieved via practice. Spending time on aim maps and strategy practice maps developed by the community is an easy way to get started. Additionally, there is the additional resource of esports academies, which coach players under the tutelage of pro-CS players.
When asked about his experience in the competitive gaming scene, Iftekhar “Outlaw” Rafsan from “The Council” CS:GO division said, “Like every other competitive gamer, I started out playing CS:GO casually in 2015 but within a couple of months I got completely hooked. Soon after I started out playing competitively and participated in every upcoming LAN tournament. Honestly, these “tournaments” felt like get-togethers with the gaming community with a pinch of competitive edge. And winning Youth Zest (which was probably the biggest event of the Year) with my team, The Council, was a pretty exhilarating experience for us.”
2. Dota 2: Dota, much like CS:GO, is also a game that shines in its ability to engross its players in the competitiveness of the game through its ranked mode. Playing for MMR (Matchmaking Ratings) or ranks, it's easy to see that VALVE having worked with both CS:GO and Dota really understands how to make competitive games to cater to the masses. However, while CS:GO needs to be bought for a small fee of usually $7-8, Dota is free to play for everyone. This particular feature is really why the Dota community is vast worldwide.
Youngsters looking to get into Dota need to know one thing in particular, phrased into the words of Zunnun “JIN” Crorier of “The Council” Dota division, “Dota 2 is a strategy game that requires hours of dedication and work put into it. It's a game where, one second you are winning and the next you are losing. Like any sport you need teamwork, dedication, trust and of course you need to be creative. It's a game where creativity is rewarded, being able to think outside the box helps in many situations”
Similar to CS:GO, Dota also has esports academies, but from having personally played Dota for years, I can attest to YouTube channels like Dota D. Bowie, Puregamers and GameLeap being a great place to start off.
3. Rainbow Six Siege (R6S): While Dota and CS:GO have long dominated the competitive scene of Bangladesh, without any other games coming close to being on the same level as the two, R6S has recently built itself a successful scene which has shown a lot of prospect. The addition of R6S to tournaments recently has brought about many teams, all competing to be the best.
While similar to CS:GO, it adds even more strategy and tactics to the mix. Players looking to get into the competitive scene can try esports academies, as well as ask for advice within the community. The best part about the R6S community is how close knit it is, making it easier for players to get help from others.
When asked about the future of R6S and competitive gaming, Arnob “Freaking.Blue” Imtiaz from CSBD-Anonymous said, “The R6S scene along with the competitive community is growing with each LAN. R6S isn't just a shooting game, there's so much strategy and teamwork required, that you wouldn't be able to make it with just pure aiming ability. And I think that applies to other popular competitive games like CSGO. Above all, you need team mates, who will all be on the same page and willing to work with you, in order for you to be the best.”
At present, the competitive scene in Bangladesh is growing; looking at tournament prize pools, shows quite a large gap between international tournaments and those held locally. But, if one were to look back to five years ago, some of those past tournaments wouldn't even offer players medals; let alone prize money. The competitive scene is making strides towards becoming bigger, with more LANs being organised every passing year. It wouldn't take an optimist to see the possibilities in our country's gaming scene, as well as the prospect of having our own esports industry in the years to come.