Inside the Mind of Shariff: Sabah’s Esports Shadow Organizer

Join us as we explore “El Beardo” journey, one of Sabah’s key figures in the growth of Esports scene in Sabah.

Vinces L

Shariff “ElBeardo” a name celebrated among seasoned players yet relatively unknown to the younger generation. Despite all this, Shariff has quietly become one of Sabah’s pivotal figures in the esport community. Join us as we delve into his journey, exploring the passion and dedication that drive him to elevate the esports in Sabah.  

Chapter 1: Getting to know Shariff

(To Shariff) Why ElBeardo?

Shariff: "My friend and I used to run a YouTube channel called '6 Guys 1 TV,' where we reacted to horror games. When we decided to rebrand, one of my friends mentioned my beard. Since I have a liking for Spanish culture, I came up with 'El Beardo.' That's how El Beardo was born."

(To Shariff) How did you begin supporting events, and what motivated you to get involved?

Shariff: “Practically, I’m not doing any event. I’m more aiding – helping the event. Gaming is part of my passion. I’ve seen most of my gaming community circle here mostly my friends. Whenever I see anyone wants to do an event. It’s been a long way since 2012 and 2013 when the term esport has yet to exist.”

" Whenever someone wants to host an event, like the TinyRobot 2018 ITCC Gundam event, we lend a hand. We've been doing this since around 2012 and 2013, back when the term 'esports' wasn't even widely known."

(To Shariff) How do you come up with ideas for the events? Do you have a planning process or do you prefer a more spontaneous approach?

Shariff: “I prefer a more spontaneous approach; I'm not good with planning, actually," he chuckled. "Back then, we aimed to raise awareness about gaming tournaments, which weren't popular."

Nowadays, Shariff is more involved in helping other events on a spontaneous basis due to his busy work schedule. "I'm more about consulting and providing equipment now," he explained, adding that he supports the younger generation by lending a hand and offering guidance.

(To Shariff) How long have you been involved in gaming events, what would you say is your main role?

Shariff: "I’ve been actively involved in gaming events since 2010, primarily managing booths and collaborating with my community, Kinabalu Button Mashers (KBM). Our focus has been on exhibitions and tournaments, mostly in partnership with other events until the COVID-19 pandemic."

(To Shariff) What was the first ever event you organized? And what did you learn from it?

Shariff: "Technically, I've only organized one small community event. It wasn't big, but it turned out great. I learned a lot, like how to manage participants, set the rules, handle equipment, and plan everything." 

(To Shariff) Have you faced any significant challenges while organizing? How did you overcome them?

Shariff: "Being part of a group, we've faced several challenges. One of the main issues has been with participant registration. Sometimes, players accidentally submit their forms twice, but fortunately, the information is usually the same, so we just remove any duplicate names."

" For [transactions], we haven't had major issues because most participants make online payments. For those who can't do online transfers, we create a WhatsApp group a week before the event to arrange in-person payments with the players."

(To Shariff) How do you engage with the local Esports community in Sabah?

Shariff: "We started engaging with the local esports community around 2018, when the term 'esports' became popular and it gained government recognition as an official sport." "Local esports groups approached us to help handle these events because they didn't know of any established community at the time."

"Tekken was the most popular game back then, so we mainly organized Tekken tournaments," 

*They even assisted in larger state-level events, such as those related to Sukma. 

(To Shariff) What do you consider is essential elements for a successful gaming event?

Shariff: "The most crucial element is definitely the equipment. We ensure its safety during tournaments.” He added, “Some players use legacy controllers that aren't compatible with modern consoles, so we provide our own equipment like controllers and arcade sticks."

“We also prioritize having extensive knowledge of the games and technical aspects to handle any issues that arise.”

"It's important to understand both the game and the equipment," Shariff emphasized, "so we can effectively troubleshoot any problems that occur."

(To Shariff) Are there any upcoming events or projects you’re excited about? 

Shariff: "Right now, I'm taking a step back and letting the younger blood handle events and projects. I mainly assist where needed. A few months ago, I helped with a Tekken 8 event at Centrepoint and also with Street Fighter 6 and other activities. As for upcoming events, nothing specific is planned at the moment. Once we have something in the works, we'll announce it on our KBM page."

Chapter 2: Achievement & Collab

(To Shariff) How was your experience working with Yuri and other members of KBM?

Shariff: “He is [great with people] and has more experience than I do. I’m very grateful to Yuri because I’ve learned so much from him. KBM started as a small fighting game community where we would gather to share knowledge and play together. Over time, it grew much larger than we expected. The community was created to bring together fighting game enthusiasts, primarily from Kota Kinabalu (KK) and Sabah, ensuring they were the first to know about any events.”

(To Shariff) What was it like to collaborate with TinyRobot for “Tekken 7 King of the iron fist borneo tournament 2017 & 2018”?

Shariff: "I remember those events well. The first one was at Riverson for the game's launch, [we were] approached by Managing Director Mr. Terry Wong, who shares our passion for gaming. TinyRobot handled the prizes and participants, while we managed the promotions. We attracted top players from West Malaysia, who are now some of the bests in Malaysia.”

Chapter 3: Goals and Insight

(To Shariff) What are your goals for the future of Esports in Sabah?

Shariff: "My goal is primarily about raising awareness, which has been my focus since I started organizing tournaments back in 2013, before esports became widely recognized. I knew someday esports would gain legitimacy and become part of government events, which happened around 2017 or 2018. Now that it's official, I aim to mentor young bloods, especially in fighting games."

"I want to see more players from Sabah excel, [joining] international events like in Japan or America, currently, two players from Kota Kinabalu are part of the Malaysian Fighting Game Community (MyFGC) in West Malaysia, studying there. It's a source of pride for me."

"For me, it's about creating opportunities for young blood to gain experience through small esports events. Experience is crucial; the more events we have, the more our community can grow."

(To Shariff) What is your dream event? Why is that your dream event? 

Shariff: "My dream event, I have a silly dream event I want to do, but it's mainly because of my passion and hobbies. I'd organize a retro gaming event. While most people are into modern consoles, I will never forget where I’m from.”

"I've organized musical game tournaments like Taiko no Tatsujin high-score challenges. It's not just for experienced gamers; anyone can join and have fun without stress,"