‘Unity League’ esports grassroots tourney announced

By Philstar.com

Posted: February 12, 2024 | 7:05pm

In Manila, Philippines, a new step in the esports industry has taken place with the government-backed People’s Television Network (PTV) launching the Unity League. This grassroots-level esports competition targets the discovery and training of potential national candidates for Team Sibol.

The Unity League is commencing its journey with a nationwide tournament of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. Local Government Units (LGU) are invited to showcase their teams in this gaming face-off.

PTV general manager Analisa Puod revealed the news during the league’s press unveiling on Monday at Midas Hotel located in Pasay City.

Through the combined efforts of the House of Representatives, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and broadcast partner Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13), Puod confirmed adequate television coverage and league logistics support.

Puod expressed PTV’s pride in being a contributor to the Unity League, an initiative poised to be a breeding ground for esports talent within the country. She stressed the need for the Philippines to lay claim to a prominent position in the esports industry just as it has in other sporting disciplines.

In admiration for the Unity League’s purpose, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez pledged to enhance the financial reward presented by the tournament.

He stated, “Our aim here is to motivate all participants involved. As such, we’re raising the stakes by offering a grand prize of two million pesos to the champion. Runners up will receive one million and half a million pesos for the second and third place respectively.”

As it stands, the initial total cash prize proposed by PTV was P1 million, with half of this earmarked for the first champion of the league.

During the press conference, Romualdez was accompanied by Rep. Zaldy Co, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and House Secretary-General Reginald Velasco.

Also, the services of the Philippine Esports Organization (PESO) have been engaged by PTV to manage the technical and operational facets of the league. This is in a bid to ensure high-caliber nationwide tournaments.

Notably, PESO is a member of the International Esports Federation (IESF) – the global governing body for esports – and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

Marlon Marcelo, the executive director of PESO, stated that the future of the Unity League seems promising as it intends to roll out several more esports gaming categories to unearth untapped talent around the country.

Marcelo shared, “For the inaugural season of the Unity League, we’ve chosen Mobile Legends as our first game title. Future seasons will revolve around other esports categories like League of Legends, Dota 2, Valorant and Tekken.”

Esports has been a part of the medal events lineup in the Southeast Asian Games since 2019 and was introduced in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in China.

Not to forget, the national esports team of the Philippines, Team Sibol, is a seven-time gold medal winner in the last three SEA Games. Their victory run includes bagging three golds in the 2019 SEA Games and two each in the tournaments of 2021 and 2023.

In the professional esports space, the AP.Bren squad from the Philippines emerged as the champions of the recently concluded MLBB M5 World Championship.

The Unity League will be organizing regional qualifying rounds located in North Luzon, South Luzon, National Capital Region, Visayas, and Mindanao. Participation is open to anyone aged 18 and above.

Registration kickstarts on February 13 in NCR, followed by North Luzon on February 24, South Luzon on March 16, Visayas on March 23, and Mindanao on March 27. More information can be found on the league’s official social media pages.

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