By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

ESPORTS events in the 30th Southeast Asian Games formally open today with the Philippine team — Team Sibol — expressing its readiness to plunge into action and bullish of its chances of doing well.

Happening at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City, esports, which is making its debut in the biennial sporting meet, will see competing nations battle in six game titles, namely, DOTA 2, Starcraft 2, Hearthstone, Tekken 7, Arena of Valor and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

Team Sibol will be competing in all of the games, dead-set on making a sweep of the events.

“We are excited and honored to play for the country,” said Team Sibol manager Alvin Juban in an interview in the lead-up to the esports competition.

“Our players have been performing well in the competitions they joined in heading into the SEA Games and we have been getting a lot of support, so we are bullish of our chances,” he added.

Team Sibol is comprised of veterans in their respective games.

Team members are Marvin Salvador “Boomy” Rushton, John Anthony “Natsumi-” Vargas, Bryle Jacob “cml” Alvizo, Jun “Bok” Kanehara, Mc Nicholson “Mac” Villanueva, James “Erice” Guerra and “Van” Jerico Manalaysay (DOTA 2); Caviar “EnDerr” Acampado and Justin “Nuks” Santos (StarCraft 2); and Jacinta “Jia” Dee and Dustin “WaningMoon” Mangulabnan (Hearthstone).

Also part of the squad are Kevin Kio “Gambit” Dizon, Jeremiah “1717” Camarillo, Miguel Klarenz “Miggie” Banaag, Jevan Lorenzo “Bents” Delos Santos, Lawrence Anthony “Rubixx” Gatmaitan, Bradie Ryan “Yatz” Velasquez, and Kyle Jepherson “Vindiicated” Padlan (Arena of Valor); Angelo Kyle “Pheww” Arcangel, Karl Gabriel “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno, Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa, Carlito “Ribo” Jr., Jason Rafael “Jay” Torculas, Jeniel “Haze” Bata-Anon, and Allan Sancio “Lusty” Castromayor (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang); and Andrei Hosea “Doujin” Albar and Alexandre Gabrielle “AK” Laverez (Tekken 7).

As a team, Sibol is rallying behind the battle cry “Lakad Matatag.”

As part of their preparation, team members, with help from Smart, honed further their skills at the Sibol Training Ground, the de facto headquarters of the team which is fitted with the latest mobile network innovations.

It surely bore fruit as Sibol members all took gold medals in DOTA 2, Tekken 7 and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in the SEA Games test event in November.

As an added incentive in its campaign, Smart and PLDT launched the “Get Gold!” campaign, a cash incentive program for every gold Team Sibol wins.

Under the program, a P2-million cash prize will be given for team events (DOTA 2, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Arena of Valor), and P1-million cash prize for individual events (Tekken 7, Hearthstone and Star Craft 2).

“To have esports in the SEA Games is a huge thing for the gaming community here. When this becomes a national sport through the SEA Games, upcoming players will have a new platform to aspire for, a higher goal of representing the country apart from joining competitions for money and prestige,” said Mr. Juban of the significance of having esports in the SEA Games.