With Amir “kire” Khair, the second figurehead of PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS‘ esports program left the company in 2017. Recently, a bunch of new tournament circuits came up in Asia, while the European and North American scenes are stuck with quarterly one-off tournaments and restrained growth in audience for competitive PUBG events.
In April 2017, shortly after PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS entered Early Access, Chris “Panky” Pankhurst got appointed as a community manager with a focus on the development of the competitive scene. After roughly four months, Panky announced his departure from Bluehole and PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS.
Amir “kire” Khair, who formerly pursued a short semi-professional career as “X23” in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive after he retired from CS:S under his renowned alias “kireSENSEI” in early 2012, joined PUBG Corp. (back then Bluehole Inc.) a short while before Panky left. Since then PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS has seen two big LAN events hosted by the ESL, the Gamescom PUBG Invitational 2017 and the IEM Oakland PUBG Invitational 2017 and some smaller competitions at DreamHack festivals.
After roughly half a year, Khair is no longer in charge of PUBG’s esports program. Despite being one among a couple of assistant esports program managers, he acted as the go-to person for the Western competitive PUBG community. While we were not able to reach Khair for a statement, PUBG Corp’s Marketing & Events Manager Sammie Kang confirmed to The Shotcaller that he is “not on the team anymore”. Since Khair removed the job title from his Twitter biography, and all his permissions on the official PUBG Discord server have been revoked, it’s likely that he left the company entirely.
In Europe and North America, the lingering growth of PUBG’s competitive scene is almost exclusively driven by third-party tournament organizers like Auzom, PUBGOnline, and Global Loot. Further, PUBG Corp’s Creative Director Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene talked about the development of PUBG as an esport in a recent episode of the H3 Podcast, pointing out that a difficult hiring process for fitting developers slows down the process of getting the game “esports ready”.