The gaming community is diverse, with many interests, from casual gaming, competitive e-sports, cosplaying, and collecting to the electronics and technical side. Hardware building and modding PCs and keyboards have gained quite the popularity with more and more gamers venturing into the hobby, even streaming their builds.
On this edition of ILQ Level Up, we caught up with Deeb Mahmoud to learn about his love for gaming, his knowledge and projects in e-sports, and his journey with keyboard building and modification.
DM: My name is Deeb Mahmoud, aka Lovidore, aka The keyboard daddy (among my keyboard-loving peers) and I'm a born and raised Qatar-based geek and gamer. Even now, as a family man and a father of two, I'm staying true to my geeky roots. I am eccentric in nature, I tend to ramble, and people tell me I'm good at impressions, and that I have a chocolaty smooth radio-host voice.
I am a Media Networks Engineer, a Tournament Organizer for the Qatar Fighting Games Community, Discord Admin and co-owner of the largest Arab Mechanical Keyboard Enthusiast Community, and Co-Founder/CPO of Project Infinite, a Qatar-based esports startup making huge waves on a local and regional scale.
DM: I've been gaming and have loved games for as long as I remember. While many are drawn to games for their artistic value, engaging mechanics and storytelling, my love for gaming is born out of the need to overcome the challenges of the game I'm playing, or someone I'm playing against. I found that I enjoy more e-sports/competitive titles than typical RPG or action-adventure style games and have been a dedicated PC gamer ever since.
I spent my time doing sick flicks on Counter Strike 1.6 in Qatar's internet cafes, rocket jumping in Quake III Arena in the computer labs of my schools, disconnecting during Baal runs Diablo II on spotty dial-up connections, and endlessly wiping on Lich King Heroic during raids in World of Warcraft. What's common among all these activities is the sense of achievement and reward I've felt in beating all these challenges, and that remains true today.
DM: Showdown is Project Infinite's flagship product - it is an e-sports platform designed to engage and grow Qatar's grassroots e-sports gaming communities by empowering them to deliver exciting and engaging tournaments. One of the biggest problems faced by the Qatari e-sports communities is the lack of an overall structure or vision for the e-sports scene in Qatar. Many aspiring gamers feel unfulfilled when they occasionally compete in tournaments, only to find that it usually leads to no meaningful outcome; they just compete in that tournament, and sometimes they win, and usually, that's it.
By creating Showdown, we aim to give gamers and the scene in Qatar a purpose by:
In short, Showdown aims to be the only e-sports platform you will ever need!
DM: Absolutely! There are always new games and new communities to explore and grow the scene for. Right now, Showdown is the proud platform provider and co-owner of the Qatar Esports Leagues, a nationwide league series of four games delivered with our partner Team Mana. The games in this league series are Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Call of Duty Modern Warfare II.
We also have other projects in the works so stay tuned to our social media for exciting announcements!
DM: First off, a huge shout out to the Geekdom team and the amazing work they do. They truly are a talented and dedicated team looking to provide a haven for the Qatar-based geeks; please show them some love!
I was privileged enough to deliver a Geekdom Talk on behalf of Project Infinite called "The Opportunity of Gaming, esports and ways to move forward". The main aim of the talk was to shed some light on the current state of gaming and e-sports in the Arab world, and how, as Project Infinite, we can pave the way forward to improve and enrich the e-sports landscape.
While the talk touched on several critical points, the key takeaway from the talk that I feel everyone needs to understand is this: the key to growth in e-sports will always, ALWAYS be grassroots communities. Project Infinite is a firm believer in this point in particular and is actively working to achieve thriving e-sports through its grassroots communities.
DM: Definitely attend some tournaments on Showdown and start making a name for yourself. If you don't see a tournament for the game you play, come speak to us and we could potentially start creating tournaments for that game to drum up some hype around it and form a community!
For e-sports gamers looking to establish a professional career, we recommend attending regional tournaments and possibly officially licensed tournaments by a game's publisher. E-sports gamers who compete on Showdown can use their public statistics on their Showdown Profile page to show off their skills and their tournament performance. This is definitely a big plus for gamers looking to get sponsored.
The most important thing, however, is consistency and dedication. Take losses on the chin, make it a learning experience, improve and get back out there. With time, you will achieve your goals.
DM: My passion for custom enthusiast keyboards began in 2019 when I came across a Twitch streamer called Blacksimon. At first, I didn't know what I was looking at when I tuned into his stream. There was a top-down camera view of a workspace with a bunch of obscure components and a solder iron turned on ready to solder some components together. While I was clueless as to the context of the stream, I was drawn to his charisma and the way he talked about what he was doing. He said things like PCB, switchplate, top mount, and "thock". I didn't have the faintest idea what he was on about, but I was hopelessly captivated.
As the stream progressed, I watched in awe as Blacksimon slowly started assembling a custom keyboard and tuned it to his preference. When the build was completed, he held up the assembled keyboard and showed his hundreds of viewers the design, the premium finishing, the chonky brass weight, and the colour-matched keycaps. Then, came the sound test. Blacksimon drew his microphone close to the board and began to type. At that point, I heard for the first time what a custom-built keyboard sounds like. I was hooked and knew from that point on there was no going back.
Since then, I dove headfirst into the hobby, spending endless hours on Reddit and Geekhack (a forum dedicated to the enthusiast keyboard hobby) to learn more about this mysterious hobby and the community it envelops. I learned all about the different keyboard sizes, plate materials, case materials, all the different types of switches, how to solder, how to tune for sound and feel, and a ton of other weird and wonderful keyboard-related facts. Fast forward 4 years to now, and I own nearly 40 custom keyboards, some of which are very rare and sought-after boards by the community.
I am also one of the community leaders of the Arab Mechanical Keyboard Enthusiast community with hundreds of members from nearly every Arab country. I also stream my keyboard builds on my Twitch channel (twitch.tv/lovidore) where I have my own little community of supporters as well.
While there is so much to love about this hobby, the thing I love the most is the people I have met and continue to meet. Some of my closest friends are individuals I have met through this hobby, and this is something I will cherish for a long time.
DM: The whole point of a custom keyboard is to build a keyboard that suits a particular use case that you may have. Have limited desk space? Go for a compact 60% build. Looking for productivity with the need for a numpad? Consider a board with an 1800 or a compact 1800 layout. Are you a heavy typer who likes to bottom out? Consider getting switches with a heavier spring weight. The possibilities really are nearly endless.
To answer this particular question, my ideal keyboard build would be a classic tenkeyless (no number pad) layout, top mount aluminium plate, moderate typing angle of around 7 degrees, with some nicely lubed linear switches with 60g TX springs, and of course, it has to be winkeyless (no windows key).
DM: I have many "favourite" keyboard builds for different reasons. Some keyboards I love because they look absolutely stunning (seriously, check them out on my Instagram page). Other keyboards I love because they sound and feel amazing. As I mentioned earlier, one of the best things about this hobby is the people you meet. Some of the people I met are keyboard designers, meaning they have actually designed, from scratch, some of the keyboards I own.
If I must select a favourite keyboard, it must be the Safa my good friend Paul designed. This board is astounding; the simple, elegant design, low typing angle, deep creamy sound, and consistent feel are all aces in my book. But I selected this board to be my favourite because it just so happens to be named after my better half. Paul knew this, and as a favour to me, he custom-designed a special one-off unit of the Safa just for me. The version of the Safa I have is a unique 1/1 unit in a royal purple colour with a special badge over the arrow cluster, showing the word "صفاء" in beautiful Arabic calligraphy. It is a work of art, and I am privileged to own it.
DM: Streaming is a fantastic way to get in touch with existing communities and build your own at the same time. I was introduced to the hobby and learned most about the hobby from keyboard streamers, so it made sense to me to follow the same path targeting viewers from the Middle East. Through streaming, I was able to create and grow the Arab Enthusiast Keyboard Community with my good friend Racan from KSA (shoutout to you, brother).
Now, with this community thriving, we are hosting annual meetups where all the keyboard geeks converge to one location and share their builds with the community!
DM: Definitely check out Showdown and reach out to us if you're looking to host and participate in some e-sports tournaments. You can follow us on Instagram (@showdown.me).
Also, if you want to commission a keyboard build from me, don't hesitate to reach out to me on Instagram (@lovidore). A huge thanks to ILQ for reaching out!
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