From vision to reality:  How AP Bren sets the example for other Esports teams to follow in the Philippines

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AP Bren, formerly known as Bren Esports, has achieved another win, adding a championship title for Mobile Legends Bang Bang to their trophy collection. This achievement was made at the recently held Games of the Future 2024 event which took place in Kazan in March 2024. AP Bren demonstrated flawless play from the group stage right to the finals.

AP Bren’s Director, Jab Escutin, discussed their triumphant performance explaining, “Everything unfolded as we hoped it would,” revealing it was no mere victory but also bagged the Playoffs MVP title for Marco “Super Marco” Requitiano, their Gold Laner. Escutin commented that this victory “cements our place as world champions,” as AP Bren was previously rewarded the MLBB M5 Championships earlier this year, noting “our approach to nurturing our athletes for the MLBB team is unparalleled in Southeast Asia.”

Concerning the team’s journey to such a distinguished reputation, one would have to understand AP Bren’s early beginnings. Originally Bren Esports, the organization was the brainchild of Bernard Chong back in 2017 who had a vision of raising the profile of esports in the Philippines.

Early 2023 saw Bernard retire from the founder’s role, enabling the team to rebrand as Aces Pro. Gamers from the start, Bernard and Jab built a firm rapport playing Clash Royale, leading Jab to reveal Bernard had then felt convinced that “plenty of Filipino athletes could potentially achieve esports superstardom,” prompting the creation of the now AP Bren.

From the get-go, Bernard and Jab made a pact to pursue this vision the right way, intending to support and offer a structured approach for Esports athletes. Recognizing a wealth of local talent was going to waste due to lack of structure, development and management, they committed to providing these aspects, forming the basis of what is now AP Bren.

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Data suggests that AP Bren represents the forefront of the Philippines’ Esports, hosting successful teams across various games. However, it was not a mere shared vision that propelled the brand to its current status.

Discussing management, Jab praised Bernard’s self-awareness and reliance on delegation, stating that Bernard “appreciates his strengths and areas where he needs support. He values his role and trusts others to help.”

Jab and Bernard worked together to hire the right personnel who could bring their unique abilities to the brand. Bernard’s philosophy is to “surround yourself with the brightest minds” which has contributed greatly to a company culture of support over supervision.

The key was not to do everything but to do everything well, assigning tasks to those who could execute them perfectly, whilst offering guidance and support. Bernard was keen on checking on the teams and athletes, imparting his wisdom, emphasising more on support than authority.

Bernard’s pivotal role in establishing an impressive esports facility comprising training rooms, recreational areas, a production center, and a gym stands as a testament to his commitment to the cause.

Integral during the 2019 SEA Games Esports, the facility not only made life comfortable for AP Bren’s athletes but also the rest of the Philippines’ Esports contingent. Bernard’s idea behind the facility was to instill confidence in the athletes about their career path, explains Jab.

Based in Metro Manila’s business district, this facility, with its professional atmosphere, starkly contrasts the informal setup of conventional esports camps. It has played a significant role in disrupting esports stereotypes, such that even parents of athletes have come to appreciate the gravity and potential of their children’s careers in esports.

The development journey continues to this day with Bernard consistently focusing on the long term, unlike many team owners who focus on short-term goals. Jab added that Bernard “envisions the entire decade, while accomplishments each year are appreciated, thoughts still linger on the next five years or so”. AP Bren, with its numerous honours, is a testament to Bernard Chong’s vision, which continues to thrive today, cementing its place as a staple in Philippine esports.

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