Esports in: Lebanon
First, it is important for everyone to understand this: the internet network in Lebanon is nothing comparable to what we are used to in Europe. This has a huge impact on the gaming culture in Lebanon for several reasons; it causes people to have a totally different behavior compared to western Europeans. For example, due to a poor internet network people don’t usually play online games from home.
As in many countries outside of the Western world, there is a big gaming lounge culture in Lebanon. A sort of café where there are dozens of computers and everyone's playing different games in a big hazy room. A very cheap place to play with a great internet connection and pro gaming material (usually costs 2000 LB ponds an hour = 1,20 euro). In my opinion, this gaming lounge culture deeply changes the perception that Lebanese people have about Esports. The vibes and atmosphere present in these lounges is absolutely amazing and is completely different from what we can experience in Europe. Sitting with 30 other people playing games around you gives a way more social experience than sitting alone in a room with 30 other people online. Also, people tend to come in little groups and play their favorite game together. It is a social activity during when people like to gather with friends and spend a couple of hours screaming at noobs. Yeah, flaming is also a big part of their culture, and so much testosterone present in a single room does not help them to keep calm.
Moreover, having a poor connection also influences whether or not people play a certain Esport. I am a Dota2 player, and it is the game I enjoy playing the most. However, I felt very frustrated every time I would try to play at home as the lag was insane and did not enable me to play in decent conditions. On the other hand, the lag was not as intense while attempting to play League of Legends as it was on Dota2, which forced me to play LoL more than Dota when I was at home. I talked with several people that told me the same story, which can explain why LoL is generally more popular in the world, and especially in Lebanon.
The most popular games in Lebanon are no different than in the rest of the world. CSGO, LoL, Dota2 and Hearthstone are the most played Esports and it can clearly be seen in whichever gaming lounge you go to. What’s more, by spending (quite a lot of) time in gaming lounges, I realized that some days or hours are more suitable for certain type of players. It was quite funny to see: late afternoon and early night would be the time for LoL players to shine, and a bit later the lounge would have been full with Dota players. From time to time during the week you would see a lonely guy playing Hearthstone while drinking coke and smoking a cigarette. The weekends are often packed with Counter Strike players; no matter what time you would hear them screaming throughout the room and that’s how you immediately recognize them. Obviously, the lounge was mainly filled by young men aged between 16 and 28. I have never seen a girl sitting behind a computer; sadly enough as I am sure that it could have been the most romantic place to meet a true love.
Lebanon has a big gaming community and has produced a few players evolving in the pro scene nowadays. Unfortunately, the country struggles to have structured federations, and consistency is not a core value in the Lebanese culture. This restrains a lot Esports in Lebanon to grow even more and reach an international influence. Lebanon proves how popular Esports are in the world, even in countries where internet connections are not great people gather and enjoy gaming together. It is very interesting to see the social values that Esports have here, and if you want to discover another face of Esports Lebanon is definitely the place to go.