Saaokiller: I sing of headshots and the man
He reflects on his rocket ship ascent to become a PUBG Mobile live streaming star.
Suave, and oozing confidence, Omer “Saaokiller” Saeed may have a slight frame, but he carries himself in a self-assured and sanguine manner. Speaking in a soothing and almost nonchalant tone, he shared, “I will only be threatened by myself – I am my own competition.”
His father, an entrepreneur, instilled a sky’s-the-limit spirit into Saaokiller and he has taken that advice to heart. In 2019, he was the fastest-growing Facebook Gaming streamer in South Asia. Only starting livestreaming in June, the Karachi-residing national’s page grew to a staggering 450,000 followers (and counting) in the seven months since.
Surprisingly, Saaokiller remarked that his streaming journey was almost accidental. He played PUBG Mobile on his son’s iPad and at his son’s behest “Baba (father), keep going on,” started buying and opening crates. “If I had a budget of US$500, he would stretch it to US$1,500!” Saaokiller is close friends with Junaid “TheFatRat” Shafiq, a professional Pakistani CS:GO player, who suggested that he should livestream his crate-opening adventures (or misadventures).
Despite streaming irregularly at the start of May, the Pakistan national generously handed out free UC (Unknown Cash, PUBG Mobile’s in-game currency). By his estimate, he has given more than US$5,000 worth of UC to his followers. At the start of June, he focused on his gameplay, and that’s when he settled into a broadcasting groove.
With a background in stockbroking and construction, Saaokiller is a white-collar worker, so a career in live streaming was never on the radar. However, in a moment of vulnerability, he shared that after the 2018 Pakistan elections, he felt restless as both businesses were struggling. Nevertheless, he followed his father’s enterprising footsteps and sought new ventures, “… and along came streaming – and not Polly.”
Support of family and friends
Playing video games is his passion, but Saaokiller was surprised that he took to streaming like fish to water. Initially, he was shy and didn’t turn his web camera on, but that changed after seeing the love and affection his viewers showered him. “The first few months were about getting
that shyness out.”
His wife has supported him throughout the streaming journey. “At that time, no money was being made, no clear future could be seen, yet, she was a strong pillar by my side. She had vision and belief in me.” Having to raise two children and with the family business struggling financially, circumstances looked bleak, but his wife was optimistic. Saaokiller recalls her saying, “If God is showing you a way, things will turn out alright. If one door closes, another will open.”
He also attributes his perseverance to his father and brother, who helped him purchase some of his streaming equipment. “In today's world, there’s still a stigma attached to playing games – especially if one is an adult. Often, parents will ask us 'why do you play games?'” But that wasn’t the case for him, his father was a self-made man and taught his children to bravely take calculated risks.
When Saaokiller transitioned from streaming crate-openings to showcasing his PUBG Mobile gameplay, he was far from a top-tier player. “People used to call me ‘noob’ and ‘trash.’” But Junaid was patient and taught him almost everything he knows about live streaming, despite being almost 10 years his junior. “Junaid told me, ‘brother, don’t stop. People will say good and bad things, just don’t give up. I’m here by your side.’ Even now we still play together and he’s a good friend of mine,” shared the 35-year-old.
One of the biggest turning points in his journey happened in June when he had offers from two platforms to live stream on, one of which was the ubiquitous Facebook. Since he began his journey in the blue and white, he was confident about its potential.
Realistically, almost everyone has social media accounts. “The community is already big and it’s easy to reach out to them with my content. Hats off to Facebook for introducing Facebook Gaming into its ecosystem.” Also, Facebook is
enhancing its features, for example, allowing fans to watch his stream while multi-tasking, like scrolling through their news feed. The social media giant has also organised feedback sessions with Creators to improve its upcoming features.
“I’m optimistic about Facebook Gaming. There will be ups and downs when it comes to bugs and issues, but overall, things have been great. Facebook Gaming has a vision, and its growth is inevitable. I’m glad I stuck to Facebook.”
His meteoric rise in a matter of months is remarkable and he attributes it to a few factors. The platform being inundated with so many content creators, Saaokiller said that it’s important to be an exceptional player, which he admitted was what he grew to become after many hours of practice. And a streamer’s attitude to his/her followers must always be characterised by respect and love. “When you show affection to your followers, or read out their comments, it puts them on cloud nine, and that’s one reason they will return for more.” For this soft-spoken content creator, live streaming is not about drama or sensationalism, it’s about building a connection and rapport with his followers.
“Give back to the community, whether with free UC or other items, or just sharing knowledge. Your audience is what makes or breaks you. It’s always nice to feel appreciated. After all, my fans watch my streams to be entertained and to learn.” He also said that streamers should look to enhance their content, at least, on a monthly basis. “Constantly introduce new elements to keep your streams fresh and interesting. For example, I gradually introduced two cameras for my streams, so fans see my gameplay, my facial expression as well as my finger movements (no, not THAT finger).”
Words of wisdom
Like with most other things in life, Saaokiller feels the world, too, has changed. “Don't give up on your dreams when a passion or hobby can help you earn a living. There are still those with old school thoughts who say that games aren't good for you. No doubt, everyone needs an education (he holds a Master’s degree in Finance), including young streamers. But if you have something which can lead you to be successful, pursue it with courage and grit.”
He also advises streamers who are starting out to focus on networking. “I was privileged to have Kazi Arafat, who is an admin of multiple community groups, impress upon me the importance of networking.” Kazi helped Saaokiller understand how to promote his content and directed him to the right avenues and places to do so. “Content distribution is extremely important. Facebook is about networking, after all, it's a social network. But I feel this aspect is neglected by many streamers.” He believes that it matters little to have the best quality live stream if no one is there to enjoy it.
He is also adamant that streamers must have a lot of self-control. “People will say bad stuff, but don’t lose your cool. Give respect and you will eventually receive it in return. Let the haters be, because they'll make you popular.” He walks the talk and is calm and collected on his streams. Perhaps that gentle personality, a stark contrast in an often-vitriolic online world, turned haters into supporter badge holders?
Saaokiller is locked and loaded to bring the best PUBG Mobile content to his viewers. Despite being based in South Asia, he revealed that he has a growing audience in Southeast Asia and the United States. This is partly because he streams in English, giving him a truly global audience. The avid collector of luxury watches and shoes has a quiet fierceness that speaks of a hunger to consistently improve and do better. He loves PUBG Mobile and is eager to share it with a growing fanbase who appreciates the personal and educational touch he brings every time they tune in to watch him battle for those chicken dinners.