By Mark Louis F. Ferrolino, Special Features Writer
The Philippine electronic sports (eSports) scene has come a long way. From a concept that was not widely accepted by the masses in its nascent years, eSports has grown into a giant industry that is now participated in by various companies and investors.
According to Ronald Robins, founder and chief executive officer of Mineski Corp., the largest eSports organization in Southeast Asia and the local eSports pioneer, it was very hard to say 10 to 15 years ago that eSports will grow into where it is today.
“ESports before was basically a leap of faith,” Mr. Robins told BusinessWorld in a previous interview. “There was that big uncertainty.” But because of the tireless efforts of various entities, the country’s eSports ecosystem has flourished and is slowly but surely reaching its peak.
Mineski’s three main business units — Mineski Pro Team, Mineski Franchise Corp. and Mineski Events Team (MET) — for instance, have significantly helped shape the industry by means of uplifting the professional gaming scene, providing high-end gaming facilities, and popularizing eSports across the country, among others.
Over the years, Mineski’s three arms have seen rapid growth, which highlights the growth of the local eSports industry.
From a professional gaming team that solely refers to an iconic Dota squad, Mineski Pro Team now features teams in different titles. Mineski’s cybercafé franchise business, on the other hand, currently boasts a network of 150 branches across the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, while MET continues to establish itself as the premier organizer of large-scale esports events in the region.
“Mineski now means a lot of things in the eSports industry. We have been setting example, we have been leading the industry development, not just in the Philippines but in the Southeast Asia region,” Mr. Robins said.
Mineski has been helping boost the country’s eSports ecosystem, other firms, including Globe Telecom and Lenovo, have been also doing their shares.
With the aim of bringing world-class eSports experience closer to local communities of gamers, Globe recently launched its first Esports Center (ESC) at Play Nation in UP Town Center in Quezon City.
ESC is an experience hub where Filipino gamers and gaming enthusiasts can participate in the competition, creation of live streaming content, and interaction with other members of different eSports communities.
Globe, in partnership with Mineski, also unveiled early this year its official professional eSports team called “Liyab.” It is composed of sub-teams for different game titles, including League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Arena of Valor.
The creation of Liyab Team is part of the company’s vision through the Globe Games and Esports Program to accelerate the development of eSports in the country. Since its launch in April last year, Globe Games and Esports Program remain at the forefront of the local eSports landscape by organizing and hosting international tournaments such as the Globe Philippine Pro Gaming League, Globe Conquerors Manila, and Valor Cup.
Meanwhile, Lenovo, in partnership with Intel, recently concluded the Legion of Champions Series III Grand Finals held in Bangkok, Thailand. This eSports competition brought together over 60 gaming talents from 11 markets across Asia-Pacific, including the Philippines.
Last February, Lenovo opened its first Legion concept store in the country as part of its efforts to bring game-changing devices closer to Filipino gamers. Located at the fourth floor of the Annex building of SM City North EDSA in Quezon City, the Legion store features a wide range of products from Lenovo’s Legion gaming lineup, which visitors can personally test and play games on. To further engage the local gaming community, the store will also hold mini gaming tournaments occasionally.