As part of its commitment to promote sports and support Filipino athletes, PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) recently awarded cash incentives to the 30th Southeast Asian Games eSports gold, silver, and bronze medalists from Team Sibol, the Philippines’ first national eSports team. Team Sibol bagged five medals at the multi-sports competition’s inaugural virtual tilt.
According to PLDT chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan, the cash award for the eSports athletes is a tribute to their commendable performance. “We are very proud of how well you represented the Philippines in the SEA Games, especially since it’s the first time that eSports has been included in a prestigious sporting event,” Pangilinan said.
“While it may not be as physical as basketball, eSports requires a lot of physical and mental effort, and dedication for our young people to excel in this sport,” Pangilinan added.
Cignal TV and TV5 President and CEO Jane Basas also acknowledged that eSports is one of the fastest growing sports today. “Many years ago, including eSports in an International Olympic Committee-accredited event was just a dream, and now, it actually happened, thanks to our partners; the athletes, coaches, and management; and of course, to sponsors like Smart.” Basas added, “It’s a milestone in the history of eSports that we were been able to put it in an international event like this and broadcast to many homes, not just in the Philippines but to the rest of Southeast Asia.”
With his team conquering the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) competition, Angelo Arcangel shared that the team would play eight to 10 hours a day as part of their training. Also known as Pheww among his teammates, he said all of their hard work has borne fruit after clinching the gold medal. Smart provided the connectivity and other equipment in the training grounds of Team Sibol.
“Sobrang nakakatuwa yung suporta. Sobrang laki. Kasi kung hindi dahil sa Smart, sa mga sponsors, hindi naman kami mabubuo, hindi naman kami pwedeng mag-training kami nang kami-kami lang. kaya sobrang laki ng tulong nila sa amin (The huge support really makes me happy. If not for sponsors like Smart, the team would have not been formed. It is not like we can train individually. The sponsors have really helped us),” said Arcangel.
And as the whole country celebrated this victory, Mobile Legends team manager Jab Escutin noted that this was just the beginning and hoped that the momentum would be sustained. “I’m pretty sure that since we got an actual gold medal, it’s a signal that [eSports] can be an actual career that people can take seriously. There’s a big backing for it. There are a lot more career options for everybody, especially since we are in the digital age,” Escutin said.
Pangilinan and Basas personally greeted and congratulated Team Sibol in awarding the cash incentives. The gold medalists for team events (MLBB and DoTA II) were awarded P2 million. Individual event gold medalist for StarCraft II Caviar “EnDerr” Acampado was awarded P1 million. Tekken 7 silver medalist Alexandre “AK” Laverez and bronze medalist Andreij “Douijin” Albar were awarded P500,000 and P250,000 respectively.
Even after the SEA Games have concluded, Pangilinan said that PLDT and Smart will continue extending support to the eSports athletes to encourage them, particularly as they prepare for the 2021 SEA Games should host country Vietnam decide to sustain the event.