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  • 05 June 2019
    导出博客文章The stage floor lit up with purple clouds and lightning. There were four
    screens, composed in the shape of a square and hanging over the entire stage
    showcasing the action below. The Mortal Kombat XL character select screen
    emanated out to the incoming crowd of the Mandalay Bay Events Center.The
    Evolution Championship Series (Evo) was the biggest fighting game tournament in
    the world, and Mortal Kombat XL was one of its headliners. In the middle of it
    all was Sayed Tekken Master Hashem, who had ascended from the losers bracket to
    the grand finals. He took his seat next to the best Mortal Kombat player in the
    world, Dominique SonicFox McLean, and did not flinch. His stoic expression never
    changed when the lights dimmed and his seat became center stage.When asked about
    the grand finals, Hashem merely said, I expected to reach the top three at Evo,
    and was confident enough to [achieve] it. My only concerns, when it came to
    rivals or players in the tournament, were Brad Scar Vaughn, Denom A F0xy Grampa
    Jones, and SonicFox.When Hashem won 3-1 in the first series to reset the bracket
    during the grand finals at Evo, he finally showed emotion. He stood up and
    pumped his fists. But he never broke his focus or altered the expression on his
    face, even with so much riding on this tournament. A victory for him would mean
    recognition for an entire region. It could catalyze a new generation of players
    at home. That would validate the entire journey.Nobody in the crowd saw this
    coming, MK commentator Aris Bakhtanians said to the audience.A big fish on a
    small islandHashem is from the Kingdom of Bahrain, an island near the western
    shores of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. Although he hails from a small
    nation, Hashem did not come out of nowhere; he was already well known to the top
    players in the community. His success began with a victory in a Bahrain
    qualifier for the Mortal Kombat X Cup during Animania Bahrain in 2015. From
    there, he was the Middle East Finals champion (a feat hes accomplished twice)
    and then the runner-up for the Mortal Kombat X Cup in 2015 and 2016 before the
    breakout at Evo.Hashem remembers playing video games when he was six. Fighting
    games caught his attention when his older brothers played The King of Fighters
    96 and Tekken Tag Tournament. He chose to compete in fighting games because of
    the emotional aspect and reward for fast thinking.But his island was hardly a
    fighting game hotbed. Mortal Kombat, especially, was a not a popular pastime.
    Hashem cites one training partner, Abdulaziz X-Azeez Aljowder, as his only
    consistent practice for the game. This solitary role still comes with high
    praise, however. He considers Aljowder a top 10 player in the world for the game
    and credits him for much of his Mortal Kombat success.Our community here in the
    Kingdom of Bahrain consists of Street Fighter, Super Smash Brothers, and King of
    Fighters players. We have really good players who excel at Street Fighter V,
    Hashem said. Sadly, our Mortal Kombat community is quite small, but I personally
    play and train with X-Azeez.His current sponsor, Middle Eastern esports
    organization Power League Gaming (PLG), has hosted the majority of the
    tournaments and cups that Hashem has played in. Aljowder also plays for PLG.If
    it was not for PLG then the scene for Mortal Kombat in our region would have
    died out completely and I would not have made it to Evo, Hashem said. They ran
    professional tournaments in the Middle East since Mortal Kombat 9, and now with
    X and XL, things were really big. Everyone knows the PLG tournaments are the
    ones where you can prove yourself. When you do, theyll support you and fund you
    to go to the global competitions. They are passionate and they understand how
    difficult it is for the community.The final stepBack at Evo, Hashems grand
    finals opponent McLean took the lead 2-1 in the ultimate series, turning the
    tables. Hashem started to show a little concern. He rested his chin on his hand,
    deep in thought. After a moment, he selected a different character variation and
    played the fourth game. The change worked; the set was tied.McLean took a deep
    breath and adjusted his headset before changing his character. The two clashed
    in one final game, Alien against Kotal Khan. McLean took advantage of his
    characters tools: overheads, safe chip setups, and pressure on pressure. Hashem
    took everything in stride and struggled to fight back. A missed combo and
    another missed opportunity for a punish from Hashem and McLean finally took the
    tournament down. He rose from his seat in excitement as Hashem slumped in his
    chair. He had fallen just short of arguably the largest upset in Mortal Kombat
    history.Even though he didnt take home the gold, Hashems run at Evo was
    inspiring. A lone representative from his community, he nearly took down the
    biggest Mortal Kombat tournament ever against the best player on the planet. The
    Middle East and PLG have a fighting game superhero, thanks to his amazing Evo
    weekend.It would be an honor for me if other players in the little island of
    Bahrain or the Middle East would consider me as an inspiration, Hashem said. I
    feel a sense of responsibility to raise awareness for my local and regional
    community. I was very happy to represent my country at Evo on that stage,
    especially coming from the smallest country in the Middle East; I was more than
    8000 miles away from home. It was an indescribable feeling.
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