Moinuddin Amdani, the garment salesman who’s India’s greatest PES participant

11:10 ET

  • Jonathan SelvarajESPN

The weekends are usually very busy for Moinuddin Amdani. For the 26-year-old, who works in his father’s clothing store in Mumbai, this was more the case last week than ever. “It’s not just a weekend, but this time of year is important to us because it’s Diwali month when you’re hoping for good sales,” he said.

Business was sluggish this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amdani’s father even had to let go of one of his four workers, which means he has to work extra shifts. “I’ll do whatever has to be done. Some days I could be a salesperson or keep the accounts, manage inventory, or just help around. This is an important month so you have to work harder than usual,” he says.

Vacation would normally be out of the question, but last Saturday Amdani was told he could take the day off. Instead of going to the store, he went to the Oscar Cyber ​​Cafe near the CST train station in central Mumbai. There he sat on a Play Station Four console and started playing PES (Pro Evolution Sport) – a soccer simulation video game. He wasn’t going to play a regular game. Amdani would fight for the ESports World Cup in the PES regional qualification for South Asia.

Amdani faced rivals from Sri Lanka and Nepal and won all seven of the ten-minute games to secure his place in the final of the World Cup, which will be held in Eilat, Israel, this December. This is the second year in a row that Amdani has qualified for the tournament – he also took part in last year’s edition in Seoul. This tournament, like the one in Eilat, was organized by the International E Sports Federation, the global organization whose aim is to recognize electronic sports as an Olympic event.

While looking forward to an international tournament now, Amdani says he never expected this when he started playing PES as a 16-year-old. “I started playing in a video game parlor and only because it was right near my school. At the time, I just thought it would be a great way to sleep in classes. I never thought I’d represent India because of that could.” ,” he says.

It was a coincidence that Amdani even picked up PES. While the esports world championships include PES, there is no tournament for its competitor – EA Sports’ FIFA, the world’s most popular soccer simulation game (FIFA 2019 sold nearly 12 million copies more than the PES release in the same year). . “I didn’t want to play a soccer video game until I first went to the video game parlor, and the only thing they put on their Play Station console was PES,” he says.

Amdani won all seven of the ten-minute games in regional qualifiers for PES in South Asia to secure his spot in the World Cup final. Moinuddin Amdani

It’s not just the game that Amdani has stuck to. He also always played in the same salon. His father, he says, was initially not interested in his “wasting his time” on a video game, and although that opinion changed when he competed in his first international tournament in Seoul, a Play Station personal console wasn’t one justifiable expenditure. “I wanted to have my own console last year, but then the coronavirus happened and money was tight. So I couldn’t spend that much money on it,” says Amdani.

Regular gaming in a video game parlor isn’t cheap either, but Amdani found a loophole. “It would normally be very expensive to play if I paid every time, but I usually play games where the loser pays for the session. Since I’m the best player in India, I usually don’t have to pay,” he said .

While this regular competition credits Amdani with its success, the lack of a personal machine has made things more difficult than it could have been. Earlier this year, when stores closed due to lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus, there was no way for Amdani to play.

Even if they opened, he could only leave when he was not working. “After the lockdown ended, I’d be in business longer than usual. When business goes bad, you want to get every customer you can. I would work from about 10am to 9pm and then rest for a break.” Hour before I go into the living room and play until about 11.30 p.m., “he says.

But when it came to his regional qualifiers, it regularly paid off. “Having been playing in the same place for eight years, the owners try to help me as much as they can. They knew about the event and made sure there was a separate console just for me. A case of internet failure in the area, so they specifically talked to the ISP and set up a specific LAN (local area connection) for the PS4 that I was sitting on, “he says.

This consideration has paid off and in a few weeks Amdani will be flying to Israel. The last time he played in the World Championships, he lost in the first round to the eventual finalists – Iran and Japan. This time he hopes to continue traveling in the competition. “I was just very excited to go to South Korea for the last time. This time, I hope I can take a few wins,” he said. He knows he’ll have to train hard to do this, but there are other priorities right now. “Right now I have a lot of busy days. I’ll just do anything to help out with the store,” he says.

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