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Cebu eyeing ‘eSports’ development

The eSports or online gaming industry in Cebu is expected to gain traction moving forward with the right support from the community and the government.

This was the projection made by Cebuano entrepreneur Michael Cubos, founder of Monarchs Esports, an online gaming management firm, in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Monarchs is looking to develop the eSports ecosystem in Cebu by helping professional and amateur players come together as the advent of livestreaming and sponsorships have become mainstream.

The online gaming industry is seen to be a potential source of income for the locals by joining local and international tournaments, Cubos said.

“We want to bring the Cebuanos to the international eSports arena. We want to put the Cebuanos and the Philippines on the eSports map,” said Cubos, who is also the vice president for Cebu business mobilization of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Cubos underscored the growing potential support of the local governments to eSports enthusiasts, citing a number of politicians here sponsoring tournaments.

“There are now local government units in Cebu sponsoring tournaments. Small businesses are also starting to sponsor teams,” the businessman said.

While the industry is on track on its vision for development, he cited the importance of the government’s role to unlock the industry’s potential economic returns.

Competitive video games, or eSports, have become a multimillion-dollar business globally.

In the Philippines, it is slowly gaining attention given its skyrocketing revenues from advertising, sponsorship, and media rights to competitive video gaming.

Cubos said with the growing popularity of competitive video games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, and even mobile games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and Arena of Valor, it is possible for people to make money by playing provided they have the skill and dedication, especially if established teams join tournaments both locally and overseas.

These games are deemed mainstays across the country’s many computer shops and Internet cafés but most of the players saw them as a hobby and some as a potential source of income.

He said eSports is just as important as traditional sports, as it also provides another hobby and potential income source to enthusiasts.

In the Philippines, the growth of eSports is easily noticeable.

Video games have broken into mainstream social media platforms, like Facebook.

Celebrity streamers and professional gamers with thousands of followers play video games like Mobile Legends on live video streams.

With the launch of The Nationals, the first franchise-based electronic sports league in the Philippines, sponsored by the MVP Group of Companies, eSports as a billion-peso industry is starting to take shape in the country.

In Cebu, Cubos said much can still be done to further develop the eSports industry by supporting video gaming athletes reach the international arena.

That is one of the goals of Monarchs: to have a professional management group to unlock the potential of the eSports enthusiasts.

Online gaming teams joining tournaments could earn as high as P20,000 for local competitions and as high as P200,000 to a million for international tournaments, he said.

In 2017, the Philippine Games and Amusement Board, which is under the Office of the President, gave legitimacy to eSports as an officially recognized sport and allowed professional eSports players to secure athletic licenses, which gave eSports players more freedom to participate in international tournaments to represent the country.

In 2019, eSports was highlighted when the Philippines hosted the 30th Southeast Asian Games which included six eSports titles as medal events.*PNA

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