Against all odds, a team of Lebanese gamers has managed to represent Lebanon in a European e-sport tournament.
Qualified, Despite Everything
The digital-card-game tournament, Legends of Runeterra (Lor) Masters Europe – Chronicles of Shurima, featured a $24,000 prize pool and teams of three from 16 countries, split into four groups (A-D).
For a country to qualify, it needed to have one player making it to the top 16 players on the leaderboard, a grueling task that Alaa Yassine (“Sorry”) managed to accomplish. But that was not the only requirement.
To secure the qualification, Yassine had to have a teammate ranked under Master, the highest tier of the game.
This is where the Lebanon subreddit came into play. Desperate to make it to the tournament, Yassine had set out to find a teammate who fit the description, and ended up meeting Kamil Fahed (“Reaper”) on Reddit.
Fahed quickly worked his way up to the Master tier, and Yassine remained steadfast on the top-16 list. Like clockwork, Lebanon qualified for the competition; the only country in the region, perhaps apart from Turkey, to make it.
“There was an internal discussion at Riot Games in regards to allowing Lebanon to participate, but since we’re by default playing on the EU server they allowed us to qualify,” Yassine said in a Reddit post announcing the qualification.
As mentioned previously, this was a 3-against-3 competition, and the rule was that Riot Games, the video games company organizing the event, would select a third player from the same country, provided that the player is in the Master tier.
However, as there weren’t any more Master players in Lebanon, another exception was made and Karim Saeed (“Champion Unknown”), who was two tiers below the required one at the time, was selected. He has since ranked up to Master.
The Lebanese team played in a group stage for 3 weeks and managed to beat every country in their group (Group A), namely Turkey, Germany, and Italy.
They ended up in a tie with Turkey in the cumulative score, then qualified alongside the Turkish team to the next stage of the tournament: best-of-three eliminations. The Lebanese players were now up against 7 remaining teams fighting for the championship title.
They ended up losing to Finland and, with that, Lebanon was out of the competition, but not without a prize for making it to the top 8.
Despite not scoring the championship, Alaa Yassine and his teammates are proud to have gotten Lebanon into the tournament, let alone getting so far through.
“To be honest, most thought we’d go 0-6 and get kicked from groups, we struggled with electricity and internet a lot. Riot’s tournament organizers were very understanding of our situation and even bent the rules just for our team,” Yassine wrote in a recent Reddit update.
“I had to stream the game for my 2 teammates, but with Lebanon’s internet, it was just not doable. They allowed us to use the in-game spectator mode, which technically isn’t allowed. Communication would randomly cut off mid-game from one of the teammates [because] of the electricity,” he said.
Regardless of the difficulties, Yassine looks back at the endeavor with positivity.
“I feel like we presented Lebanon in a positive light, teams like Belgium, Turkey, Finland, Poland, Italy, and Germany were all rooting for us. It was sad we had to face Finland in our first [top-8] game.”
Retaining his momentum, Yassine is now aiming to represent Lebanon again, in the upcoming World Championship, where the prize pool will be $200,000.
“I have an important tournament on Saturday (Seasonal Tournament), it’s a solo tournament, unlike EU Masters. [The] top 1,024 players on each server battle it out to make [the] top 32. I managed to be one the top 32 with a score of 8-1,” he told The961.
“If I perform well on Saturday and make top 4, I guarantee a spot in the World’s Championship, [where] I’ll represent Lebanon,” he hoped.