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MGC - Would you ever go to Tehran?

By Danny 'HuskY' Engels
Sep 21, 2012 20:30

When you think Iranians are terrorists, religious suicide bombers or dangerous people, then you pretty much have to think every German is still a Nazi, hating Jews and loving Hitler. Prejudices are one of the worst attributes a human being can have and before travelling to Tehran almost every person I have told about it, was really sceptical and even I, for myself, had no idea what to expect and went on to an unforeseen adventure in the Middle East.

Two years ago, I have competed in the Electronic Sports World Cup in Disneyland Paris and faced Iranian Need for Speed player Naeim ‘NaEEm’ Hedayati during the Group stage. He talked broken English, had really long hair and long fingernails, but he was a fairly friendly and competitive person in the end. Last week, I had a pretty big smile on my face when I met Naeim once again. I had finally arrived in the ‘forbidden country’ called Iran…

My flight was really good, nothing to complain about. I started in Luxembourg, stopped in Frankfurt and found my way to Tehran with a young Iranian teenage girl sitting right next to me. When we arrived in the middle of the night she, like every other woman, had to put on a scarf to cover her head. It was a religious thing for her, but also the beginning of my adventure.

I got through the passport control without any problems. It just took some time until I finally got my visa. Even though I was supposed to get to a CIP lounge (commercial important people) I couldn’t find it and just went to the baggage claim area instead. A few security guys wanted to see my baggage right away. They couldn’t speak any English. They just took me straight to the customs. I still had a smile on my face though, because I knew what was going on. I guess you rarely see someone flying with a big computer steering wheel and pedals in his bag, especially not in Tehran. When a security man opened my bag and found the steering wheel he started smiling too and just asked “Game?”. I said yeah and was allowed to leave. :)

Someone was already waiting for me in the airport lobby. I have heard a little bit about the Iranian traffic beforehand, but what I have seen during my stay was ridiculously crazy. I can’t even describe it, but with this traffic I think Iranians are really good drivers and even though it looks like there are no rules at all, everybody respects each other in heavy traffic and it’s just working... I mean, using the rear gear on the highway, going side-by-side on one lane and honking for some kind of communication just seems to be a normal thing for them.

The hotel was pretty sick and really good as well. I didn’t know that I had to share one room with another gamer and I felt really sorry for disturbing him with my late-arrival, but Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen is a really good guy and it actually was nice to meet someone who could speak German. So yeah, Fnatic’s Counter-Strike team and Warcraft Pro Gamer Nicker were invited to the Matrix Gaming Competitions as well. Afterwards I would compare the event with a smaller Dreamhack, but it was done really professional.

The first day was really really exciting. I felt like a little kid during Christmas. I had no idea what to expect and actually no real clue what to do. But that seems to be a typical thing for Iranians too. They don’t plan much and seem to be quite spontaneous. That was pretty much a pain in the ass at the airport during my departure, but during the gaming event it wasn’t really a bad thing as they were prepared for everything at any time…

When we arrived at the location Fnatic had all the attention right away (every day). They are really famous everywhere, no doubt. And seriously I have never thought that my name is popular within the Iranian gaming scene too. I mean, SK Gaming, yeah… of course, that’s a big name! But when you speak about SK, you think about SpawN, HeatoN, walle and all the famous players. You simply don’t think about racing when you talk about SK Gaming. But Need for Speed seems to be a fairly big thing in Iran and due to my performance in Need for Speed: SHIFT quite a lot of people treated me like a Hollywood star... haha, well, almost..! ;)

Maybe I’m joking a bit, but I was asked for photos dozens and dozens of times and people really enjoyed our attendance. It was such a great experience to talk to as many people as possible. I even met another oh-so-friendly guy who lived in Germany quite a while and talked really good German. He told me a bit about the country, the culture and the people… and seriously, everybody I have met during my stay was so friendly right away, so nice and so unbelievably helpful even though not all of them were able to speak English!

There is a really big thing about Iranian gaming I have learned though. As they don’t have such luxury internet, they have a really tough time to get proper practice and improve their gaming skills. Furthermore, even worse, they have a really big problem with missing LAN modes in nowadays games. Due to their internet situation and missing LAN modes Iranian gamers are really struggling to catch up with modern eSports. Just think about Starcraft 2?... or League of Legends?...

That was also the reason why they were still playing Need for Speed: Most Wanted from 2006. It’s the latest Need for Speed made for competitive gaming with LAN mode and it’s a kind of special game for me too. In Need for Speed: Most Wanted I attended my first ever offline gaming event during the World Cyber Gamers German National Finals in Heide-Park Soltau. I wasn’t really good back then, even though I qualified for the National Finals, I lost all my games onsite. And since then I haven’t really touched the game anymore. So on one hand it was really weird to play such an old game without any big practice, but on the other hand it was quite a good competition and really good fun against the Iranians.

During my stay I played five show matches on a really nice stage with a cool crowd. I won three of them and lost two of them. One of the matches was so close that I finished only +0.01s infront of the MGC runner-up. I lost one match against NaEEm, but I guess that was his revenge from ESWC 2010. And MWxSPEED just dominated me with +6s within 5 laps in another match. Even though I had the excuse of less practice, I realized that MWxSPEED is really fucking good. He was even faster than then World Cyber Games players back in time when Need for Speed: Most Wanted was up-to-date. So it was no surprise at all that SPEED also won the Matrix Gaming Competitions in Need for Speed.

Between the show matches we did TV-interviews, press conferences and I got to know a few of the Need for Speed players, but to summarize the event from my side, I would say that it was just like a big, known gaming event in Europe. The stage, the crowd, the gamers, only some commentary was missing I guess. But I had no problems at all, they provided save games, car setups and they had my steering wheel drivers already installed. It was just plug and play for me and that’s something I have never really experienced so far. Very well done by Matrix!


Besides from the Gaming Competitions we had a bit free time to enjoy Tehran in the evening. Food is awesome in this country! They definitely know how to enjoy food, but you certainly got love meat. Furthermore we had some crazy secret adventures, some relaxing evenings and a lot of fun with all the people involved.

But to keep this long story short I’m so thankful that I got this chance to experience a country a 22-year-old from Germany would normally never go to. And I could tell you way more, but in the end gaming changed my life in such a huge way and I do not know any other activity where we, you and I, are connected worldwide, without borders, without war, without religious problems, and just having fun together doing the same thing – called Gaming. This trip, like every other situation I have experienced during the last seven years in gaming was such an important experience for my personality. That’s the reason why I’m really thankful for Matrix for inviting me, Vishta, Sanam, Hossein, Naeim and everybody else involved!



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