The Rising Popularity of eSports in the Philippines

Philippine Esports

eSports Defined

eSports, also called electronic sports, e-Sports, and egames, is described as competitive and organized video gaming. defines this concept as “competitive tournaments of video games,” wherein it often takes form in a multiplayer video game between professional players, either individually or as a team.

Professional gamers constantly compete against each other in tournaments for a cash prize and to vie for the top rankings in their game of choice. Some of the popular games in Philippine eSports, particularly with at-home gamers, include Dota 2, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, League of Legends, Valorant, Fortnite, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), among others.  

Different leagues or teams face off and are watched by millions of fans all over the world through a live event broadcast on television or the internet. Streaming services, such as Twitch, Mixer, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming, allow video game enthusiasts to watch their favorite gamers play in real-time, and thus, help gamers build fandoms and amass more following.

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History of eSports

Video game playing has transitioned from a casual hobby to a professional sport starting in the 1990s. Organized competitions have long been a part of the video game culture; however, it has become largely played by amateurs in the late 2000s. Its surge in popularity has been caused by the participation of professional gamers and the large spectatorship during live stream events. By the 2010s, eSports became a significant influence in video game innovations, with numerous game developers actively designing new releases and the availability of fund sources for tournaments and other gaming events.

In the modern-day, competitive professional gaming is nearly a $1 billion dollar industry. It keeps growing year after year with the help of major networks broadcasting events across the globe and live championships being watched by millions upon millions of people. According to the Olympic Council of Asia in September 2021, eSports will make its debut at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. There will be eight medal games from FIFA and EA Sports that can be won in, Arena of Valor, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, Dota 2, HearthStone, League of Legends, PUBG Mobile, and Street Fighter V.

Introduction to Philippine eSports

eSports in the Philippines has been rising in popularity over the last decade. As of 2021, there are more than 43 million active gamers in the country, with a 12.9% yearly increase from 2017. This steady growth is supported by the accessibility of smartphones and mobile internet. Similar to most Southeast Asian nations, the Philippines is known to be a mobile-dominated country with a low barrier to entry in mobile gaming.

One of the country’s most popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Games (MOBA) games is Mobile Legends, leading the gaming sector with 2.65 million daily users in April 2019. Despite having limited international success, the Philippine eSports market is unique with the size of its audience and its affinity towards other MOBA titles. Nevertheless, the local gaming community, in general, is not entirely interested in supporting homegrown esports leagues. Gaming developers in the Philippines have struggled to gain long-term and mainstream success.

Notable Development in Philippine eSports

The Philippine government has officially recognized eSports as a legitimate sport in the Philippines in 2017 under the Philippine Games and Amusement Board and the Office of the President. This allows professional eSports players to secure athletic licenses and provide them more freedom to participate and represent the country in international tournaments.

In the local scene, most of the major tournaments are mobile eSports and offer sizeable prize pools. Specifically, recent tournaments and leagues include the ESL One Manila, Philippine Pro Gaming League 2021, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League Philippines, and the Manila Major Wild Rift Southeast Asia Championships – Philippines.

Numerous Philippine eSports organizations have also emerged in the limelight, like Blacklist International Bren Esports, Execration, Neon Esports, Omega Esports, Team Pacquiao GG, and TNC Predator, to name a few. Meanwhile, the Philippines Esports Organization (PeSO) is the national governing body for eSports in the Philippines. PeSO aims to standardize eSports by coordinating with international organizations, providing proper training, and guiding players to approach this electronic or mind sport at a competitive level.

The rise of eSports in the academic setting has also paved the way to a four-year degree, namely Bachelor of Science in Esports. This is offered by Lyceum of the Philippines University in partnership with Blacklist International-owner Tier One Entertainment. The program has two tracks to choose from, either Esports Management or Game Design and Development. In addition, AcadArena, a Philippine collegiate eSports organizer, hosts eSports events for colleges and universities in the Philippines as well as provides eSports scholarships.

eSports Explained

            What is the reason behind eSports’ success in terms of viewership, growth, and revenue? For starters, players love competition and the feeling of winning. In 1972, the first winner of an eSports event received a prize pool of up to tens of millions of dollars and even a yearlong subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. The aim to be the best despite having to lose repeatedly is what the core of playing video games is all about.

            Accessibility is an advantage of eSports over traditional sports. In the latter, you need to organize people in the same physical location as compared to the former where you can play with people from all around the world through having an internet connection and a trusty gadget in the comforts of your own house and lot or high-rise condominium.

            Today’s gaming culture is not solely focused on playing games, it has evolved into watching other people play. Streaming has boosted the popularity of eSports, wherein Twitch, the top video game live streaming platform, has received over 15 million daily viewers in 2018 and 22.8 billion hours of content watched in 2021. Therefore, the dream of going pro and making eSports a career through generating income streams online is what many gamers aspire to achieve.

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Gaming Addiction

On the downside, the competition is tough with hundreds of millions of gamers competing for limited spots. To reach that goal, you need to have gaming hours played each day, and the fact that you spend most of the day sitting in a chair in a dark room with your eyes strained from staring at the screen is a health concern. Some eSports athletes suffer from musculoskeletal injuries (in the neck, back, and upper body), metabolic imbalance, and poor posture. Mental health problems due to gaming addiction can also cause poor cognitive functioning, social isolation, social behavior disorder, and emotional difficulties, such as depression and anxiety.

There is nothing wrong with competing, but if teenagers will use eSports as a justification for excessive gaming, then it becomes a problem. A healthy relationship to gaming is crucial in avoiding mental and physical health problems in the long run. We are here to encourage you to dream big while prioritizing what truly matters. Gaming all week long is only one factor, it takes focus, determination, consistency, optimal health and well-being, and of course, luck. A backup plan is recommended if you are on your journey toward becoming a professional gamer.

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Written by Gianne D. Inumerable