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Exciting times loom for the Filipino eSports industry

The Philippines has not been regarded as an eSports hotbed since the rise of the fledgeling industry, but there is every chance that competitive video gaming could be set to take off domestically – at least if Galaxy Racer Holdings Ltd have their way.

The Philippines has not been regarded as an eSports hotbed since the rise of the fledgeling industry, but there is every chance that competitive video gaming could be set to take off domestically – at least if Galaxy Racer Holdings Ltd have their way. The world’s fastest-growing eSports organization has opted to acquire a majority stake in the Filipino eSports agency DreamFyre.

The fresh investment from Galaxy Racer Holdings will see the company upgrade its local operations and move further into two burgeoning eSports markets in southeast Asia. Mitch Esguerra, CEO of the DreamFyre group, insisted that the long-term “vision” of DreamFyre has long been to grow into a “global eSports and gaming agency”. This fresh investment can only be good news to give local, Filipino eSports talent a chance to shine on the global stage. Esguerra believes the influx of “support” in developing a “network” will help the group achieve their ambition in a considerably “shorter time frame”.

DreamFyre certainly represents some of the most talented eSports players in the Philippines. These include finalists for PUBG ECL in Korea, the UE eSports Warriors, who also finished in the top four of the 2020 National Interschool Cyberleague Valorant Tournament.

The arrival of new competitive eSports circuits in the Philippines

Popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) title League of Legends: Wild Rift launched its open beta to Filipino gamers just a few months ago. It’s been such a success that Wild Rift already looks set to become a new eSports circuit in the Philippines. A brand-new competitive circuit will incorporate a total prize purse of ten million Philippine pesos, which equates to well over US$200,000.

The Wild Rift eSports circuit will consist of two seasons – summer and fall. The event is being arranged by another Filipino eSports organisation in the shape of Mineski, which was granted exclusivity to “conduct eSports tournaments” on behalf of Riot Games, the developers of the League of Legends franchise. All players looking to enter this new circuit will be required to register for the open qualifiers. These will be staged across all four islands – North and South Luzon, Mindanao and Visayas.

Mineski is taking an intriguing twist on the way the overall prize purse is to be distributed during the circuit. The funds will be shared between all teams, with 10 million points up for grabs, with each point representing a Philippine peso. The most successful teams earn more on a sliding scale, based on the points accrued through the group and playoff stages. There will be five million points available in each of the summer and fall seasons. The top two teams at the end of the fall season will eventually lock horns at the end-of-season Super Cup finals scheduled for September 2021.

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The Filipino Wild Rift eSports circuit is being viewed as the trial run for several other Wild Rift circuits which could be held elsewhere in southeast Asia. It’s a feather in the Philippines’ cap that is being used as a proving ground ahead of neighboring Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Smartphone manufacturer OPPO is getting in on the act too

Asian smartphone brand OPPO has also partnered with Mineski to support this year’s leading eSports circuits in the Philippines, including the Wild Rift circuit. OPPO’s A Series smartphones have long been considered tailor-made for mobile gaming, as opposed to the lesser Reno series, including the Reno4 model released back in October. Its most recent A92 model contains 8GB of RAM and 128GB of ROM, along with OPPO’s Game Boost 2.0 feature for an enhanced touchscreen experience. Raymond Xia, marketing director, OPPO Philippines, said that almost three-quarters (74%) of the nation’s “online population [are] engaged in mobile gaming”. 

The top-rated iGaming sites in the Philippines are also increasingly acknowledging eSports, with a growing number of pre-event and live betting markets, complete with live streams to keep bettors at the heart of the action. This in itself could be seen as recognition of legitimacy, considering how important and competitive the betting industry is with regards to sports. Sites such as this also highlight the importance of reviews and security, which is important to those new to the community.

OPPO has also signed on the dotted line to become the official sponsor of the National Interschool Cyber League, one of the most recent initiatives from Mineski to develop its Filipino Youth eSports Program. Aside from the Wild Rift circuit, there are plenty more mobile eSports events to look out for in the country too this year, most notably Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

Bang Bang has all the potential to become a national eSports phenomenon, particularly given the marketing machine that’s behind it this year. Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has been enlisted by developer Moonton as the new brand ambassador for the league.

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