Filipinos continue to make waves in the global electronic sports (eSports) scene as the Philippines was hailed as overall champion at the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) Southeast Asia 2018 Finals recently held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after Filipino delegates bagged significant wins in various sets of grueling battle during the tournament.
WESG Southeast Asia is a regional tournament which is part of a larger WESG circuit run by Alisports Group, the sports affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. WESG differs greatly from other commercial tournaments since it focuses on following the Olympic standard, emphasizing on national pride, and encouraging fans to partake in the competition. It currently possesses the highest winning prize of any third-party tournament.
At this year’s WESG Southeast Asia, the best players from 10 participating countries competed in several major eSports titles including DOTA 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone, Starcraft II, and Vainglory.
The matches were played out in a Swiss tournament format followed by a knockout stage where top four contenders battled through semifinals to determine the champion. Victors from each game categories took home a portion of the prize pool worth $75,000, and will represent the Southeast Asia at the WESG International Grand Finals in China which has a total prize pool of $2.5 million.
The final two days of WESG 2018 Southeast Asia kicked off with a breathtaking opening ceremony, filled with elements of dance and percussion, as well as classical vocals and violins.
In an opening speech, Alisports’ Director of Esports Development Jeffrey Jiang discussed its in-depth partnership with Agri Mind, the strategic partner of Alisports in Southeast Asia and the main organizer of WESG in the region, in setting a world-leading standard for eSports and associated industries.
Mr. Jiang said that it will continuously work closely with Agri Mind in the next few years to provide better content and more intensive eSports experience to the eSports community in the region.
Meanwhile, Agri Mind’s Chairman Calvin Lau tackled the importance of building a sustainable eSports ecosystem in Southeast Asia to cultivate grassroots growth. The company aims to set up an integrated eSports hub in Klang — a city in Selangor, Malaysia — which will be named AirAsia eSports Center. Regional airline AirAsia is a key sponsor of the project.
“We aim to make it into the largest eSports hub in ASEAN and perhaps the whole world. We will be laying the groundwork and building the infrastructure for eSports growth in the region, and we would like to invite everyone here to be part of it and participate,” Mr. Lau said. “Let’s build eSports and the future together.”
The Philippines took center stage during the competition, winning three gold and two silver medals, and one bronze medal across different game titles.
The TNC Predator claimed the top spot in DOTA 2 after sweeping Malaysia’s WG Unity in the best-of-three series during the finals. The Filipino team was dominant throughout the tournament, proving once again that they are one of the strongest DOTA 2 teams in the region.
“I think it was an easy game. I think in game one, they have the chance of winning. Our game one was a bit sloppy… It was not smooth as it’s supposed to be, then I told them (teammates) after game one: ‘This is what’s going on and what’s wrong.’ And we improved in game two,” Michael Ross, TNC Predator captain, told BusinessWorld in an interview after the match.
As a preparation to the world stage, Mr. Ross said that the team will keep on working to be comfortable with each other. “Once we’re comfortable with each other, we can start doing more complicated things, and we’re going to refine what we have because until now it’s not yet perfect,” he added.
The ArkAngel CSGO Female Pro Team also brought home the gold medal for the Philippines in Counter Strike: Global Offensive in women’s division. ArkAngel CSGO Female Pro Team had a rough start against Singaporean squad Phoenix during the finals but was able to make a comeback in game two and continued its dominance in game three.
“As our whole team knows, and our whole team will always remember: It’s okay to lose a couple of rounds but you can’t lose them meaninglessly — you must learn from the rounds. You can do things, and try and see what will happen because every team will always have a pattern, and from that pattern you can decide what to do. So even when you’re losing, eventually you can comeback because you can adjust to it, you will figure out what is the best for you as a player, as a team, and as an opponent of that team,” Kyung-In Lee, ArkAngel CSGO Female Pro Team captain, told BusinessWorld.
Caviar Napoleon M. Acampado also won a gold medal after bagging the championship title in Starcraft II against Vietnam’s representative. The two eSports athletes showed an interesting match in a best-of-five series during the finals.
TNC Pro Team – CSGO, on the other hand, fell short in securing a gold medal. The Filipino team ended its WESG Southeast Asia 2018 journey with a silver medal in a close fight against Thailand’s Alpha Red.
The country’s representatives in Hearthstone, Euneil Javiñas for the men’s division and Cara Vergel De Dios for the women’s division, finished as first and second runner-up, respectively.
Apart from the official WESG competition, visitors experienced various other activities. Agri Mind partnered with GAX Evolution to bring more entertainment value to the event, particularly animé, comics and games. A host of booth setups by key partners and supporters of the event were also installed.