While the people of Lebanon have been waging an on-again, off-again war against one another on the streets, a group of Lebanese buddies of varying political backgrounds have teamed up to kick some virtual ass - and they're pretty damn good; in fact, they’re the best.

Lebanon has long enjoyed a thriving gaming community, as indicated by the numerous internet cafes scattered across Beirut, often crammed with jeering headset-sporting youths around the clock, as well as the occasional large-scale geek-tastic gamer gatherings. A popular staple of those internet cafes (and PS3 gaming consoles nationwide) are online first-person shooter games, where teams of friends square-off against one another in virtual arenas. But it was Activision’s critically-acclaimed game series, Call of Duty, that brought the members of Lebanon Clan together.

Founded in 2010 by Stefano El Douaihy, who goes by the online name SheikhStefano, Lebanon Clan was the first Lebanese Call of Duty clan (in other words, a team of players who play against other teams) on PS3. “We were only a few Lebanese worldwide, and the clan was like a hub that connected Lebanese players," says Stefano. A shared passion for the game brought these Lebanese players together, players of various geographical locations, and differing political affiliations.

Having assembled themselves online, the clan would go on to battle for three years under one chain of command, regularly recruiting new players, such as Captain Cyril Aoun, who has been a member of the clan since 2012. Cyril recounts how he came to join the clan: “I used to play against them at first, and then at some point, Stefano noticed I played well, and offered that I join the clan.” He continues: “I was always teaching the younger players and helping them out; steadily we improved as a whole.”

Indeed they did improve, so much so that they would eventually earn the prestigious rank of highest clan level worldwide in the middleweight category from Call of Duty Elite, not once, but twice (in 2012 and 2013 respectively). Keep in mind: The Call of Duty games are some of the most widely sold games of all time, and there are literally millions of clans and players online. That’s no small feat.

But getting to the top was no picnic. Lebanon Clan had various obstacles to surmount, obstacles which even non-gaming Lebanese deal with every single day. For the players residing in Lebanon, the outrageously slow Lebanese internet was one major hindrance, as Stefano explains: “The enemy is always faster, as Lebanese players are constantly lagging. This usually destroys their motivation and many give up due to frustration.” But no matter where you are geographically, if you’re Lebanese, you’re sure to have that infamous Lebanese arrogance: “At first, every player thinks they are born to be a hero or commander player, and plays as they wish, thinking their way is the best. In fact, they are just a mess," explains Stefano.

Though there is a subtle irony to the notion of a group of Lebanese dominating a war game, you have to recognize their effort, and admire their determination and cooperation. They even demonstrate what a Lebanon without the almighty "wasta" could be like, for, according to Stefano: “We don't recruit friends, relatives, or fanatic players, but players with certain criteria; corruption doesn't exist in our chain of command. That could be the missing key for Lebanon.”

You’d think that this level of persistence to excel at a mere video game would be for some kind of cash prize or something, but no, it’s all about having fun, and more importantly, lifting up the Lebanese name. "We ultimately take pride in the fact that we represent Lebanon on a global level,” Cyril says.

If a bunch of Lebanese gamers putting aside their differences to win a fictional war against other gamers results in them conquering the entire world for two years straight, imagine what the entire Lebanese nation could achieve if it did the same.

If you yourself are a Lebanese Call of Duty player, make sure to visit Lebanon Clan’s website, Call of Duty Lebanon, which serves as a headquarters for the ever-expanding Lebanese Call of Duty community, featuring plenty of game-related news and content.

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