Philippine CS:GO – A Non-Definitive Primer

Introduction

File photo: Plus Attack, 2018.

When I saw that many of the new players were asking about different aspects of the Philippine CS:GO scene, I saw that there were no links for people to dive into content as well as general information on the state of our beloved CS:GO scene.

As such, here’s a quick primer on the Philippine scene!

Content

File photo, Tarlac Esports League, 2018.

Let’s be honest, since I’m a writer for various publications and pens stuff, ranging from those “standard” press releases to flowery literary pieces, the one thing that I would be able to claim some “expertise” is content. I have been writing in the space since 2014 and even have covered the Asia Minor once!

I like to believe that the gold standard of content in Asia is CSGO2ASIA, which does a lot of features, insight pieces and interviews about various personalities in the Asian CS community. In a region where there are many differing opinions and views, the fact that CSGO2ASIA has received a lot of positive feedback for its content should tell everyone about its reliability and excellence. The site also carries one of the most accurate ranking for Asian teams, which should tell anyone how important the site is.

As for this site, it has been dedicated towards carrying “localized” CS:GO content, as well as the occasional ranking, interview or opinion pieces that would certainly bring different reactions from various sectors of the community.

This site has also extensively reported on the provincial scene and one just has to type “CS:GO” on the search box to see the site’s extensive archive of articles! (Personally though, I tend to focus on doing longform content for CS:GO2ASIA; this is the first “wall of text” content that I did for a local audience for a very long time).

Meanwhile, Play on WASD used to carry a ranking system as well as tons of content; however, it has lost a ton of its articles due to different revamps and whatnot. Mineski.net and TNC Esports also does CS:GO content from time to time, as well as other sites like Mogul News and ArkAngel; they provide different sources and narratives for the new Filipino CS:GO player to read.

There are many casters now in the Philippine scene. One can pick from Mineski’s Ilustrado as well as Play on WASD’s SneakyFrog (plus their stable of casters, too many to mention here) and Tier One’s Jaeger; all of them have their distinct styles and personalities, as well as preferences when it comes to making (and casting live games). If one goes to a provincial setting, Metronoia’s Rabbet and Vapebar’s Cly (to provide two examples) do deliver the viewership and the engagement needed for provincial tournaments to equal and even surpass their Manila-based counterparts!

For an interesting note, Vapebar noted that they had a peak of 400-600 viewers on Facebook (entirely plausible), while Metronoia always gets significant viewers regardless of the time of day – and easily get at least 500 concurrent viewers during their premier tournaments.

These viewer numbers do not count yet the new CS:GO population…so it is in everyone’s best interests to keep them in this game!

Tournaments and Servers

A local team winning a minor tournament in Zamboanga.

The Philippine scene carries four distinct types of tournaments: cafe openers, minors, regional majors and premier events. Mineski and WASD have been doing premier events for the most part, though the former has mostly stopped their efforts at the moment.

Cafe openers can be found anywhere in the Philippines – and they are a great way to get experience and street cred, in addition to the prize money and/or giveaways…unless some pro players decide to raid the house with their friends and get on with the fun.

As a result, some cafes keep a black list of these professional players; they would not be allowed to join these tournaments so that amateurs and the rest of the aspiring teams would be able to have a chance at glory.

Cafe openers carry a prize pool of P5,000-20,000 and are limited to a single internet cafe, thus attracting everyone who can go there.

Minors carry the same prize pool, except that they are usually done by a brand, can be done online/LAN, have some marketing and even production/social media engagement and pro teams can join the entire thing. (The recently successful SEDNA actually fits the entire definition of a minor in this case).

Meanwhile, a regional major has prize pools of up to P100,000, but limits its participation by stating that only teams from a certain region can join. The purpose for these tournaments is to provide a place where local teams can improve and show off their skills. In addition, they are backed by relatively huge organizations (Metronoia and NCGC come to mind) and have ample funds that come from their marketing budget anyway.

Oddly, similar to their premier counterparts, they can also be rather disruptive as they also cause a lot of roster changes, shakeups and additions/reductions.

Finally, premier events like ZOWIE Extremesland, MPGL (when it existed back in the day), Tarlac Esports League (TESL) and Plus Attack create the biggest places for players and teams to show their craft. With prze pools generally in the six-digit mark, these events mark the peak of the Philippine CS:GO scene…and are the cause of blockbuster trades, lineup changes and amazing storylines in the Philippine scene.

As for servers, WASD and Havoc are the major server operators in the country. Meanwhile, AnenoKnights also operates their own servers, in addition to the teams who have their local-based/SG-based scrim servers.

Among the provincials, Metronoia operates their own servers, though they make it clear that they will only use it for their own tournaments…in addition to the occasional rent or scrim for Mindanao teams and tournaments.

There is no better time to be a CS:GO player!

Players and Teams

There is no better time to watch teams!!!

Players and teams are mostly based around major urban centers.

Metro Manila is obviously home to TNC and ArkAngel, who are basically the top two teams of the Philippines by any margin possible. Meanwhile, Cebu is home to Station-751 (who is also known as the “LAN gatekeeper”) as well as MetroCebu and a couple of other teams.

They are home to players like Jayvee “dubstep” Paguirigan, Riley “witz” Go and many others, who are strong in one way or another when it comes to playing CS:GO.

Dumaguete has its tournaments and teams, while Baguio, the Ilocos and other big cities in Luzon have a couple of squads that participate and make their mark from time to time in various online and LAN tournaments.

Mindanao is a different beast altogether. While the more skilled players are found in the Davao region (pure skill by average, I think that they are higher regardless of what the tournament statistics say – hey, they got Edgar “garflex” Acasio in the house, who was known at one time as the “Mindanao carry”), while the more stable teams are in the Zamboanga region – what is roster change?, they like to joke (and it is also slowly becoming a big CS:GO hub as internet cafes suddenly start to get into the heart of it).

Other cities like Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Iligan and General Santos are able to create their stars every once in a while, adding to the diversity and potential of the region (despite its numerous VAC bans).

If I were to rank teams, both in skill and results, I would be sure to place TNC and ArkAngel on top, followed by Station-751 (regardless of the “slumps” they have, getting three top 3 placings in big premier tournaments is never a joke and a bunch of Manila-based teams (the amount of talent in that region is just too much) and then Metronoia, Vapebar, CGH – in no particular order plus one Visayas or Mindanao-based team to complete everything.

Want to join their ranks? Improve, get good and be better overall!

Disclaimers and Conclusion

This has never been intended to be a definitive information sheet for the scene, as everyone knows that the state of Philippine CS:GO is rapidly changing as time goes by!

In addition, I do hope that people like reading this short piece!

Welcome to the community, folks…and I hope that you’ll learn, enjoy the game and stay here and make a positive difference!

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