eSports Philippines: Movers and Shakers

Posted by DG, Date posted at November 14, 2022

The Catalysts of Change

eSports has been very subtle in the past years of its evolution — so to speak. Until champions emerge from the lot. The 25th of August saw 23-year-old Kendrick L. Cheah, one of the top Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players in the country proven that Esports can be owned by Filipino and has long grown past the video games of childhood.

eSports PLAYER competing at the International Dota 2 World Championships Image source: REUTERS
eSports PLAYER competing at the International Dota 2 World Championships Image source: REUTERS

He won the fighting game tournament of REV Major, 2018 as PSI Force. But his journey was not for the weak-hearted. 

Cheah narrates, “A team didn’t sponsor me, I had to solely rely on leftover allowances from my mom, as well as the cash prizes I won in previous tournaments to attend upcoming gatherings, tournaments and events.”

Finally, a professional esports team sponsored him, but the financial pressures still linger especially when it comes to the future of his team. 

Pangasinan Rep. Christopher V.P. de Venecia has been proactively helping the Esports community. He cites that the Philippine video gaming industry is the 25th largest market in the world by revenue, with earnings of more than $572 million. He digressed in House Resolution No. 2394 that the esports sector offers opportunities to generate revenues through creative avenues, namely streaming, shoutcasting and content creation.

Of the 110 million Filipinos, half play video games alongside this are local game developers who are also garnering global recognition. 

A Philippine-based esports team, TNC Predator stepped up its game by consistently placing high in international DOTA 2 tournaments. A total of $4.6 million in prize money earned so far since it started in 2013, mentioned by Esports portal GosuGamers.

One company that operates as an Esports coordinator — AcadArena, began providing support programs including scholarships and aid for esports athletes with a tuition coverage of as much as P25,000, a creator grant for streamers including tuition coverage of as much as P30,000 and an Axie Infinity scholarship grant, giving awardees a play-ready team, training and an eventual payout.

GrindSky Eris, a Philippine all-female team, also claimed a gold medal at the mobile League of Legends: Wild Rift event.

eSports as it is Now

Filipino eSports teams have snagged medals at international competitions, including the Southeast Asian and Asian games.

Philippine Team Sibol won silver medals at the League of Legends and Crossfire events in Southeast Asian games. A gold medal was won by the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang team with players from a local gaming organization, Blacklist International.

There are now six major categories in eSports games:

  • Fighting games (Tekken, Marvel vs. Capcom, Super Smash Bros.)
  • Real-time strategy (StarCraft II, Warcraft III),
  • First-person shooters (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Apex Legends)
  • Multiplayer online battle arenas (Defense of the Ancients 2, Dota 2, League of Legends, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang),
  • Sports games (NBA 2K, FIFA Online)
  • Digital card games (Hearthstone, Pokémon TCG).

Warcraft 3: Reforged Gameplay

Esports has been thriving. Professional gamers in other countries now make enough to provide for their families. Some have turned into multimillionaires. 

The United States has been considered a mecca for professional gamers. Pro gamers can see as much as $60,000 yearly. There are now tournaments that can yield hefty prizes for winning teams that reach as high as $50,000. On a monthly basis, it’s possible to earn $2,000 a month as cited by Esports Grizzly.

eSports organizations moving for Government support

There are initiatives by local Esports groups and organizations to gain more government support for the Philippine Esports Industry — a priority is to see it as a legitimate creative sector and sport. So far, there was a House of Representatives hearing where the Philippine eSports Organization proposed an economic zone housing a studio where esports events can be broadcasted, as well as boot camp facilities where local esports athletes can train.

The Department of Education (DepEd) revealed plans to integrate esports into the curriculum through game-based learning and physical education at the House hearing. Critically important skills could be learned via Esports which include adaptive, creative and critical thinking, problem-solving, new media literacy and self-management.

They further revealed how there is a need to improve internet infrastructure, more airports for easier foreign participation and well-deserved incentives as key tools to achieve significant growth for Esports in the country.

Kenneth Ian G. Alog, associate project coordinator at AcadArena Technologies, Inc. added his insight,  “The Philippines is a third-world country making the first-world innovation like esports work. However, there are many infrastructure improvements that need to happen.” His company has helped Esports athletes by providing scholarships to Esports players.

He further digressed: “One example is minimum wage. Unless it improves to a level that Filipinos do not find microtransactions in games or even reliable data an absolute luxury, then video games cannot be fully part of their lifestyle and the market cannot grow to a certain size for it to be viable for certain companies to open shop.”

You might also want to see: Best Online Sports Betting Sites Philippines

Global figures on eSports Financials

For the pro player, in the League Championship Series, the average salary would be $410,000, according to consulting firm YCP Solidiance. Another income-generating venture can be franchising similar to how the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets have invested in esports teams, namely the League of Legends teams Golden Guardians and Clutch Gaming, which has since merged with Team Dignitas.

Franchising also generates big revenues. The cost to franchise a team in the Overwatch League ranges from $ 20 million to $ 60 million.

Forbes magazine also cited that top esports organizations earn more than $ 15 million a year, with earnings mainly coming from merchandise sales, franchising and sponsorships.

Goldman Sachs reports its forecast to have $2.92 billion in revenue for the esports industry this year.

As a recap, we heed Mr. Cheah’s insight, “Seeing as there’s passion and support, I think esports has the potential to grow here in the Philippines. Esports is a viable career as long as you know how to back yourself up should something happen. Passion, community and support are what will help the local esports scene.” 

I think so, too. Yes, there are still major areas to ponder on and do better at. But the innate skill of our Esports players is already there. We just need to hone it and hopefully create an environment to encourage a renaissance movement for gifted players. Imagine if this translates ten-fold? Any thoughts on this, readers? We’d love to see your insights on Esports. Please comment down below.

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