The Philippines are becoming a premiere esports ecosystem

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The Philippines is no stranger to the esports phenomenon. From having millions of players for various esports games to hosting some of the world’s largest tournaments and events, the “pearl of the orient seas” may now be seen as a premiere esports destination.

Esports in the Philippines began a long time ago, with amateur tournaments for games such as Dota, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike being held on various internet shops and cafes from all over the country. Pinoy Dota was at some point the key meme on Garena.

mlbb esports PH

Now, the Philippines already hosts international esports tournaments, and even a national team for a handful of esports games already made waves in different sports events.

MLBB is everyone’s go-to esports title

If we are talking about the most popular esports game in the Philippines, than Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB)  is surely on top of the list. Not only that there is a MLBB Professional League (MPL) in the country, but gamers really love to play this game, even if they are just chilling in their homes or riding a bus.

Players as young as 15 years old already sparked their careers and now compete in the pro scene. One of those is MPL and M4 World Champion Sanford “Sanford” Vinuya from Echo Philippines, who began his professional career when he was just 15 after joining NXP Evos.

In his Ph Pro Player Behind-the-Scene video, Sanford spoke about his struggles when he was just starting, as well as how he juggled his studies while being a professional player.

“Before I became a pro player, one of my struggles was the internet connection because I only had mobile data at that time,” Sanford said in the video. “Also, the cellphone I was using had low FPS and was even not mine, so I did not have enough time to play that much back then, and I was also studying at that time.”

These challenges players face in the Philippines are already normal for Filipinos who strive to become professional players one day. But with the determination and will to grind for the love of the game, they can overcome these hardships and still produce top-tier, Filipino talent for esports, just like Sanford.

pinoy esports

Filipino blood in the international esports scene

Aside from the Philippines taking home the world championship from the last four M-Series tournaments, various Filipino MLBB also became imports to other countries which also have their own respective MPLs.

This includes Kairi “Kairi” Rayosdelsol, who became instrumental to their team’s win as the champion of MPL Indonesia, as well as reaching the grand finals of the M5 World Championship last December.

There were even some arguments about Kairi’s impact in Onic, with some Filipinos stating that Onic won’t reach the finals without Kairi, while some Indonesians blame him for their loss against eventual M5 World Champions AP.Bren. Still, arguments like these just prove that Kairi is an asset for his team, and reaching the finals of the world championship is already a big thing.

But it’s not just MLBB where Filipinos took part in the international tournaments. Pro Dota 2 players also established their careers, with Carlo “Kuku” Palad and Abed “Abed” Yusop to name a couple.

Phillipines Esports

Going International

Aside from the talent Filipinos have when it comes to playing the game, the appreciation for esports as a whole is rampant in the country – to the point that the Philippines was chosen to be the host of some of the most prestigious international esports tournaments.

The M5 World Championship held last December 2023 became a record-breaking event, especially in terms of viewership. A total of over 5 million peak concurrent viewers were listed for the event, making it the “most popular MLBB event of all time.”

MLBB record

AP.Bren from the Philippines took home the crown, making them the only two-time world champion so far, as well as continuing the Philippine dynasty of MLBB since M2.

Aside from the booming MLBB esports scene, the Asia Pacific Predator League 2024 also took place in the Philippines just this January. Dota 2 and Valorant teams from all over the Asia Pacific region took part in their own respective tournaments where a grand prize pool total of $200,000 was up for grabs. Two Filipino teams triumphed in the end of both tournaments, with Blacklist Rivalry winning the Dota 2 event, while Team Secret outlasted every other team in the Valorant tournament.

With all of these achievements for the Philippines’ esports industry, there is no doubt that the country may now be considered as a hub for developing world-class pro players, as well as establishing a deep appreciation for the world’s most popular esports games.

In Asia, it’s not only about China or Korea anymore when it comes to esports – the Filipinos are here already, making their way as contenders, may it be through talent or the business side of things. “Lakad matatag” indeed.

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