By WAYLON GALVEZ
For the first time in history of the biennial meet, the game of esports takes the spotlight when it makes its debut and top Filipino gamers battle the region’s best in the 30th Southeast Asian Games today at The Arena in San Juan.
The national team – known as Sibol – starts its campaign in the six-day competition, which has six categories, team events Dota 2, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Arena of Valor, as well as individual categories Tekken 7, Star Craft 2 and Hearthstone.
The games will start at 12:15 p.m., and Day 1 will feature qualifying rounds in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Star Craft 2 and Hearthstone until Sunday, while action in Dota 2 and Arena of Valor will be played Monday and Tuesday.
The medal matches in all five events is on Wednesday, the same day Tekken 7 will have its qualifying meet and medal matches.
The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Esports Union (PSEU) selected from a qualifying tournament the best 27 gamers that will take on the challenge from nine other nations.
However, PSEU co-chairman Jane Jimenez Basas said that they expect tough competition from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia – countries that also have top caliber gamers competing in world championships.
“I think these are the countries that will give our Sibol team a good fight, but our athletes, from the test events we had, they’ve done well and they are all ready and we’re all excited to see them fight for flag and country, and hopefully win the gold,” said Basas.
“Based on the test events, I think Sibol is capable of winning a minimum of sox golds… of course we want to win all six. But minimum I think we can win three, if we surpass that it’s great for Sibol.”
The members of Sibol in their respective events are as follows:
Kenneth Jiane ‘Kenji’ Villa, Karl Gabriel ‘KarlTzy’ Nepomuceno, Jeniel ‘Haze’ Bata-anon, Carlito ‘Ribo’ Ribo, Angelo Kyle ‘Pheww’ Arcangel, Jason Rafael ‘Jay’ Torculas and Allan Sancio ‘Lusty’ Castromayor for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
Mc Nicholson ‘Mc’ Villanueva, John Anthony ‘Natsumi’ Vargas, Marvin Salvador ‘Boomy’ Rushton, Jun ‘Bok’ Kanehara, Bryle Jacob ‘CML’ Alvizo, Van Jerico ‘Van’ Manalaysay and James Erice ‘Erice’ Guerra for Dota 2.
Kevin Kio ‘Gambit’ Dizon, Jeremiah ‘1717’ Camarillo, Lawrence Anthony ‘Rubixx’ Gatmaitan, Jevan Lorenzo ‘Bents’ Delos Santos, Kyle Jepherson ‘Vindiicated’ Padlan, Miguel Klarenz ‘Miggie’ Banaag and Bradie Ryan ‘Yats’ Velasquez for Arena of Valor.
Justin ‘NuksPH’ Santos and Caviar ‘Enderr’ Acampado for Starcraft; Dustin ‘WaningMoon’ Mangulabnanand Jacinta ‘Jia’ Dee for Hearthstone; and Andreij Hosea ‘Doujin’ Albarand Alexandre Gabrielle ‘AK’ Laverez for Tekken 7.
Prior to the SEA Games, the members of Sibol participated in a number of pocket tournaments and test events. The team’s top backer Smart Communications, has put up cash incentives for winners.
Sibol athletes will receive P2 million for every gold medal in the team events in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Arena of Valor and Dota 2, while P1 million will be given to individual events in Tekken 7, Hearthstone and Star Craft 2.
“This is a huge milestone for esports, and it is our greatest honor to support the Filipino gamers as they prove that we have the talent, skill, and drive to dominate this increasingly growing scene,” said Al Panlilio, PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and President of Smart Communications, Inc.