Unlike other Southeast Asian territories, esports is recognised as a legitimate sport in the Philippines. The Philippine Games and Amusement Board (PGAB) comes under the Office of the President and allows professional esports players to be licensed, giving them the freedom to participate in international tournaments.
The country’s well established national esports team Sibol competes widely and achieved a podium finish in the 2022 World Esports Championships in Bali. The team is scheduled to participate in the 2023 Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia. Team Sibol hosts multiple esports titles that include Mobile Legends, Dota 2, StarCraft II amongst others. At the recent South East Asian Games, the team won three gold medals which was a record. The team consisted of the best players and include Jason Rafael “Jay” Torculas, Allan Sancio “Lusty” Castromayor, Angelo Kyle “Pheww” Arcangel, and Jeniel “Haze” Bata-anon. It also hosted Carlito “Ribo” Ribo, Karl Gabriel “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno, and Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa.
Bachelor of Science degree in esports
The Philippines Esports Organization (PeSO) is the national governing body that aims to standardise esports by coordinating with international organisations and providing proper training for local players to enable them to compete worldwide. To develop indigenous talent, a
four-year Bachelor of Science in Esports is now offered by the Lyceum of the Philippines University in partnership with Blacklist International, the owner of Tier One Entertainment.
Key market for esports
The country is a key market for esports in the region, with over 43 million active gamers. It is growing at a CAGR of over 12 percent. The market is forecast to reach US $1.5 billion by 2025, benefiting from a population of 110 million individuals with an average age under 25, high smartphone ownership and 5G networks being rolled out rapidly.
Philippine esports organisations include Blacklist International Bren Esports, Execration, Neon eSports, Omega eSports, Team Pacquiao GG, and TNC Predator. Numerous local esports tournaments offer sizeable prize pools and local leagues include Mobile Legends and Bang Bang Professional League.
Post Covid, the esports industry in the Philippines enjoyed substantial growth and game developers Moonton Games and Riot Games have strengthened their operations in the country by investing and establishing local offices. Dota 2, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and League of Legends are the most popular games.
Dota 2 leads the prize pool
Dota 2 leads the prize pool with over US $10 million (over 60 per cent of the total), followed by Mobile Legends: Bang Bang at US $3 million and Call of Duty: Mobile at US $0.5 million.
The highest earning Filipino player is Djardel Jicko “DJ” Mampusti . He won over US $1.1m in prize money from playing in Dota 2 tournaments. Last year’s Filipino esports team revenue leaders are TNC Predator at US $4 million, Mineski at US $2.3 million and Execration at US $0.4 million.
Local law allows Filipinos to gamble on offshore casinos, sportsbooks, and other gambling platforms. Betting on esports is legal, and the only restriction is that sites have to be licenced and registered in the country of origin, and betters have to be over the age of 18. Live betting during a match has also become hugely popular. Real money and fixed odds through an online betting site are the most common bets and it is very common for payments to be made in cryptocurrencies, or by bank transfers and e-wallets.
Luxury brands communicate via esports
In an interview with CNN, Ampverse founder and CEO Ferdinand Gutierrez shared insights into the future of esports in the Philippines. Gutierrez explained how global brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, BMW and others were using esports to connect with the gaming generation and in the process, are changing the revenue model. Mixed content to promote greater entertainment value, including music and long and short programmes, is another evolving trend identified by Gutierrez. In closing, the Ampverse CEO described how the proliferation of mobile phones was democratising gaming. Southeast Asian players that before could not afford PC-based equipment, are now able to participate in esports competitions using mobile phones and the Philippines is growing to become an esports powerhouse said Gutierrez.
In the Philippines female gamers are on the rise and women are also playing a significant role in the growth of the esports industry. Sibol’s Women Wild Rift team have also recently won the first South East Asian Games gold medal for women in esports.
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