So, 2018 is looking to be a great year for provincial and third-party esports.
After various successes in Dumaguete, General Santos, Iloilo and Tarlac, it seems that Cebu and Camarines Sur are finally catching up to the long-overdue party.
In addition, far-flung cities such as Pagadian and Zamboanga (yes, try to get a flight and see why) have been able to raise tournaments that got the attention of their bigger cousins in larger cities such as Davao and Cebu.
In other words, esports is not just anymore about reaching the national level or representing the Philippines abroad. It is also bringing pride and honor to one’s hometown and being able to make a decent (or minimum) living out of it.
As a result, more and more people, even those who don’t care about nationally-established teams a lot, are getting into esports – this is due to the fact that the heroes that they have are people in the flesh whom they can see, talk and interact with.
Take Butuan’s Armor Loco Gaming in CrossFire, for instance. For the past two years, they have been placing quite nicely in the national leagues (3rd place in CFS 2016 and 2nd place in CFS 2017) and are doing great in this year’s league.
For a more personal example, I’ll take Metronoia. From a bunch of players who just wanted to win inside Zamboanga City and just play the game the way they want it, they are now one of the stronger teams outside Manila and Luzon (yes, this is a personal example and I know you’ll say, hey, it’s biased!)
Except for the fact that they have the wins in Mindanao and elsewhere to prove the point.
Now, going to my hopes and dreams for doing esports in the provinces.
Some place it as part of their provincial or city youth/sports programs (take Dumaguete for instance). Others make it as part of their city celebration calendar (Tarlac and General Santos fits this mantle; as a matter of fact, the latter did have “values education seminars” at one point.
I’m hoping that whatever path, game and format it takes, it would be something that will help the young ones to become something, somebody, whatever it is.
Oh and also, make those tournaments into spectacles that people would actually enjoy. Iloilo is a great example of that, with their CONQuest and their partnership with elements of the city government.
What happens when esports moves to the provinces?
It becomes more accessible. It becomes more human.
The fact that you can see a person win something and probably have the opportunity to fight with other players from different places is a great thing in itself.
Esports, instead of it being an abstract mantra, becomes an experience of the senses.
When one sees the lights, the trophies and the stage; when one hears the trashtalk, commentary and banter; when one can feel the adrenaline and the chance to earn a payday, that’s what should esports mean.
It’s not about the politics or the warmongering; it is about raising the hopes of a generation towards actually embracing esports as a whole.
Now, I want my own Zamboanga City to have an esports event of its own.
When I see esports operating in a different structure, I feel more happy knowing that there are more players coming into the day.
I am also aware that there are challenges – that some may not be able to get it right, that some will screw it up and do something else.
Yes, these are real concerns.
As such, people should keep on talking. Raise awareness. Conduct dialogue and see what is the best for all parties (I am referring to those who want to push their LGUs to do esports).
Solve issues instead of making them big.
Then, enjoy the show as provincial esports makes its appearance inside everyone’s psyche!!!