Philippine esports body optimistic about future after successful SEA Games bid
MANILA, Philippines — Philippines national esports team Sibol may have started flat in their 31st Southeast Asian Games campaign, but they’ve finally picked up the pace.
They found their groove and finished strong with two gold and two silver – ending their Hanoi campaign third in the standings with a total of four medals. The overall esports medal tally at the Southeast Asian Games saw the Philippines still in first place with a total of nine medals: five gold, three silver and one bronze.
In an interview with Philstar.comSibol Managing Director Jab Escutin and Philippine Esports Organization (PESO) Executive Director Marlon “Lon” Marcelo admitted that the results of the recently concluded SEA Games were more or less in line with their expectations.
“We were very happy that the results we expected were the ones we got and for the ones we didn’t win, we were pleasantly surprised because we had a better performance than expected. A very good surprise [was] from our League of Legends team and of course the strong and successful PUBG Mobile teams,” Escutin shared.
Performance aside, Escutin praised Sibol athletes’ flexibility in the face of the ever-changing Games schedule, with times for some events being announced on the same day of competition.
“SEA Games have been very fluid in the way they run the games. They wanted to maximize player and delegate time. Medyo nagkakagulo lang when there are changes [to the schedule], especially the very day that really happens for events like these. But luckily our players are well prepared and understand the situation very well. praises Escutin.
One such situation that tested Sibol’s leaders and athletes was the delay of the Mobile Legends event medal ceremony when the Indonesian team protested the multiple technical breaks during the gold medal game.
“I think for us it was very clear yung result na nakuha natin for the Philippines. You can’t say we had an unfair advantage just because of the situation. I think sometimes technical issues are the norm in high profile esports events especially for this one because it’s very high stakes If there are any allegations of cheating or something like that I think the games that have been broadcast can say otherwise,” Escutin said.
The investigation by the SEA Games Technical Committee lasted two hours and ultimately dismissed Indonesia’s protest due to lack of evidence – as reported by AFK Gaming – and the medal ceremony ended. unfolded.
Recalling the incident, Marcelo explained how, as leaders of PESO, they had let the procedure take its course.
“Chill lang kami dun sa gilid, we were just waiting for the medal ceremony because at the end of the day, we felt that technical breaks are an issue that everyone has to deal with, whether you are from the Philippines or from ‘Indonesia. We recognize rin naman na talagang matindi yung competition pero that we can see na at this specific game, the Philippines was really dominant. It was a clear win for us. shared Marcelo.
Present, future of Sibol
Sibol was made up of 64 delegates, all of whom stood out during the national team selection held earlier this year. The switch to a team selection from an individual selection was due to different factors, but it was mainly because of logistics given the state of the country during the shutdowns.
“Due to the pandemic at that time, Sibol executives believed that the best way to deal with obstacles was to select a team,” Marcelo explained.
For Escutin, while he sees pros in a team select and individual select, a team select is easier to manage from their side given the current structure and dynamics of a team. On the other hand, individual selection gives Sibol a wider pool of talent to choose from.
The selection of the team proved to be a success considering the country’s performance in the recently concluded Games. But will he be able to repeat his success at the 32nd SEA Games, Asian Games and Asian Indoor Games 2023?
“Whatever we decide [for future International events]: if it is a team or individual selection, we will definitely make sure that they are the best of the best that we send to represent the Philippines. This is our goal,” assured Escutin.
According to the President of the Philippine Olympic Committee, Representative Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, the host country Cambodia had announced its planned competition schedule at the SEA Games Federation meeting held over the weekend. E-sports had been included in the plan as part of Category III sports.
Although the host country dictates which titles will be included in the Games, Escutin and Marcelo hope for titles where Filipino esports athletes can stand out.
“Syempre we want to include yung mga best natin games. So that includes Mobile Legends, Wild Rift, and I hope to have another success on PUBG Mobile because we had a really good streak in the beginning and I think it’s a game we can develop for the Filipino rin” , said Escutin.
Marcelo would also like to add Dota2 and NBA2k as Filipinos naturally excel in both of these titles.
Sibol won a gold medal in Dota2 at SEA Games 2019 while E-GILAS Pilipinas won multiple titles at the Fiba Esports Open.
Focus on the basics
Apart from strengthening the national esports team, PESO has set itself the goal of developing potential esports talent with its recently launched National Grassroots Program or NGP.
Announced in April, the three different initiatives for NGP in its first year include amateur tournaments, different webinars, and rolling out the GG Truck to different parts of the country. Since its launch, the NGP has hosted two Dota2 tournaments and two esports webinars with topics on sportsmanship and how to become a professional gamer.
“NGP is an opportunity for people to realize their dream. The playing field is very fair, walang professional, everything is amateur so they wanted to see or try their luck. Sila is very willing to join because NGP actually gives you a lot of incentives when you consider going pro. You are scouted by possible professional teams and you can see if you are made for this sport. explains Marcelo.
One such initiative rolling out next month is the GG Truck which furthers PESO’s mandate to promote esports nationwide. Marcelo sees this as a very good program, at the local level, to create a dynamic group of potential esports athletes who could represent the country in future international tournaments.
But PESO is not limited to these three initiatives.
“Absolutely [things are] in the works,” Marcelo said.
He explained that for the NGP tournaments, the current Dota2 tournaments were originally planned with the Asian Games in mind since Dota2 will be a featured title. But in the long term, PESO also aims to offer other esports titles as the program moves forward.
Apart from the NGP, PESO is taking steps to develop Filipina athletes, given the performance of the women’s Wild Rift team.
“We are going slowly and steadily. We see the potential in our Filipino athletes, and certainly this trend is set to continue. It’s up to PESO to make sure na ito has masuportahan,” Marcelo said
As with other esports titles, PESO is also working with game publishers to organize different events to help develop talent in the country.
“We’re starting to talk to different publishers about what we think is a potential tayo. Similar to PUBG, we are currently in talks with Tencent to organize events and activities that could nurture our Sibol athletes and/or potential athletes. If you see, after their performance, it was really a special moment that the Filipino team won several chicken dinners in one day. It just shows you the potential but of course yung nga his later half nung competition maybe it’s their inexperience [in international tournaments] that they weren’t able to sustain that kind of momentum. There are plans to expand our pool into other titles, based on the recommendation of Sibol executives. Because we also have to look at the optics like all titles that are solid, we can always find something to improve like FIFA. But of course we would like to keep kung saan tayo malakas and develop yung mga kaya pang i-develop,” Marcelo explained.
“When it comes to kasi esports, we would definitely need everyone’s help, especially developers or publishers, as they have their own vested interests in ensuring their game is included in international events. like the SEA Games. I think that’s something we can work with them to make sure we send a lot more competitive players to the Philippines,” Escutin said.