The View From Taft

Only eighteen teams remain. The champions of The International 2018, the 8th annual edition of the world’s most prestigious Dota tournament, stand to share more than P500 million among themselves and with their organization. Even the poorest-performing team will bring home more than P3 million. This is the opportunity that two Philippine-based teams and other Filipino players playing for teams based in other countries have qualified for.
The all-Filipino team TNC Predator has already won more than P120 million over five years. And guess what? The average age of the team members is 20 while the average age of the Mineski players, the other Philippine-based team, is 25.
As eSports continues to be an economically-viable entertainment platform that rivals popular traditional sports, the need to develop support structures has also become more urgent. Athletes, or talents, in this industry are mostly teenagers and young adults with little to no management knowledge or experience.
To become a successful eSports athlete, one needs to put in thousands of hours of practice and spend even more hours learning from other players’ games. These hours also need to be balanced with time spent for and with their families and friends, as well as for other holistic endeavors.
Professional eSports players often have inadequate skills and limited time to manage finances, invest earnings, manage their brands and public image, manage sponsorships and other viable income sources, and identify opportunities to contribute to society. These functions can be handled by talent managers, who have been doing these for talents in other industries for a long time.
If equipped with the right knowledge, skills, abilities, and characteristics, talent managers can plan, lead, organize, and control on behalf of eSports athletes. ESports clans or teams such as Mineski and eSports management companies such as Bang Bang Management in France and G2 Esports Club in Germany currently render these services for professional gamers.
Moreover, eSports talent management has shown enough potential to merit the development of a $1,850 eSports Management certificate program by the Division of Continuing Education of The University of California, Irvine. Management software in this field has also benefited from these developments.
In 2017, eSports team management software developer Guilded received more than $3 million to develop software that would facilitate player recruitment, development, and other management functions for eSports teams.
With multiple fields presenting various opportunities, eSports talent management should gain recognition as an attractive industry to get into, especially for local organizations that already have some of the necessary competencies.
The Philippines has produced globally competitive players in other games as well. Dota, Hearthstone, and Tekken are just some of the games that have become commercially viable because for millions of casual gamers around the world, these games provide not just financial rewards but also entertainment value for players and spectators alike.
As a casual gamer and long-time fan, I have often been entertained by professional gamers’ brilliance and techniques as well as their stories and their roads to success. As evidenced by the online viewership numbers and sold-out arenas and venues, many of these games have become spectator sports.
In a sense, professional gamers themselves are entertainers who are much like, if not actual, public figures or celebrities. They have the power to influence gamers to follow the same career paths from as early as their pre-teen years. As such, they should be managed carefully and skillfully.
Talent managers of eSports athletes must be conscious of and responsible about how their management informs and affects millions of lives.
Globalization, in the form of talent acquisition, has also affected this industry.
Mineski, which used to have an all-Filipino lineup, now comprises a single Filipino-American and four players from other countries. ESports talent management groups will thus need to have competencies that will equip them to perform recruitment and other functions globally.
Government has also exerted efforts to facilitate legal professional e-gaming.
For instance, in 2017, the Games and Amusement Board started allowing eSports gamers to secure professional athletic licenses, which enable them to easily obtain visas for competitions.
In the US, for example, foreign athletes need P1 visas to participate in athletic competitions.
Hopefully, the government continues to find ways to support our athletes and the entities that facilitate their growth. Among these entities, perhaps the most important are talent management groups.
Rafael Gerardo S. Tensuan is a lecturer at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University and at the Export Management Program of De La Salle College of St. Benilde.