When one thinks of sports, the first things that come to mind are basketball, American football, volleyball, boxing, soccer, and tennis. This list is understandable since these are the global leaders when it comes to popularity, engagement, and value. And in the Philippines, the same set of sports is true. Basketball, boxing, and volleyball continue to dominate due to their popularity and subsequent engagement with players. But there’s an emerging sport in the industry that’s taking the world by storm: esports.
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eSports is different from the traditional sporting events that the world love like basketball, soccer, tennis, and cricket among others. Also known as e-Sports or electronic sports, it is a form of competition through video games. These often take the form of multiplayer competitions between amateurs or professional players. To support this emerging sport, organizers design offline and online competitions. Organizers will select a video game and teams will compete to win. While the competition is heating up, spectators and viewers at home can also take part in the action. Esports is also known for the use of live streaming technology to stream the action live thousands or even millions of households around the world. Today, it is one of the biggest drivers of the growth of the video game industry. It is now normal to find game designers and studios creating top video games in support of the growing esports industry.
Popular eSports Covered in the Market
Esports is a global phenomenon and this is played in different parts of the world including the Philippines. Aside from real-time competition among teams, the appeal of esports lies in the diversity of games that can be played. Players and enthusiasts can count on several esports games and the top esports played in each country vary considerably. But in terms of popularity, participation, and global appeal, the top games played around the world are League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite Battle Royale, StarCraft, and Call of Duty. Listed below are the short descriptions of the top games that you can play and follow online or offline.
- League of Legends. This is a fast-paced and highly competitive online game that fuses the speed and intensity of role-playing games. There are two teams in League of Legends that are backed by powerful champions with unique playing styles and designs. Published by Riot Games, League of Legends players will select a champion that he can control in the battle across different battlefields and game modes. The great thing about the League of Legends is that it can appeal to different players with different skill levels.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Also known as CSGO, this game is well-loved for its gameplay and the challenge it gives to players. In esport CSGO, players will join one of the two teams that will battle for the position and the prize. In this game, the first team can assume the role of the Terrorist and the other, the Counter-Terrorist. In CSGO, the main objective of each team is to eliminate the other while completing secondary objectives. For example, the Terrorist team must plant a bomb. It is then the role of the Counter-Terrorist to neutralize the bomb. In CSGO esports, players and teams can enjoy up to nine-game modes with varying characteristics and challenges. In the Philippines, Counter-Strike esports is one of the leading games to play in tournaments.
- Dota 2. Designed as a follow-up to the Defense of the Ancients, Dota 2 is considered by many as the leading esports to play today. In the Philippines alone, the esports business thrives thanks to the solid following of this game. Just like other esports in the industry, Dota 2 is played between two teams with five players each. In the game, each team will occupy and defend a base. Also, each player will control a character known as the ‘hero’. During the competition, each player (hero) will then collect experience points and items in the quest to defeat the heroes of the opposing team. The first team that can destroy the base of the other wins the match.
- StarCraft. StarCraft ii or called the Wings of Liberty is another game that is played in different parts of the world. This is one of the most critically-acclaimed video games ever released in the market. As a real-time strategy game, StarCraft ii comes with 29 playable campaign missions with 26 playable in a single playthrough. Players can also unlock a secret mission on the ‘Media Blitz’ mission.
On top of these popular titles, the e-gaming industry also covers other popular titles. When you take part in tournaments or simply play the games, you will also enjoy the classic Street Fighter and take part in the Overwatch League. And with the industry growing at unprecedented levels, it is no longer surprising to discover that new esports titles will be released in the next few months.
eSports in the Philippines
The first known video game competition happened in 1972 at Stanford University. But the substantial growth of the business started in the 1990s when the business of video games bloomed. This was the time of expansion for the video game business. Furthermore, the 1990s was also the time when the classic games like Street Fighter were introduced to the gaming public. The decade also saw the establishment of different tournaments including the 1990 Nintendo World Championships.
In the Philippines, the growth and popularity of esports started in the 2000s. This was a time when other countries were already investing in the esports league. Initially, the esports business in the country was dominated by amateurs. Amateur players and video game enthusiasts are known to frequent local internet and computer shops in the country to play Dota 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. For players, these games are just hobbies that can serve as entertainment after class hours or during the weekends. During this time, nobody saw esports as a platform to play professional and earn lucrative deals.
This perspective changed in 2016 when a team from the Philippines defeated a major team at the International Dota 2 Championship at the Seattle Center in the United States. The feat was made by TNC Gaming of the Philippines that also represented Southeast Asia in the tournament. This was considered a strong tournament for Dota 2 with strong teams from the European region. The following year, the same team participated in The International and won, taking home Php 18 million. Today, esports is expected to be worth $19 billion (2019) and players from the Philippines are expected to generate money not just from the participation in games but in sponsorship as well.
Game Designs and Tournaments that Help Boost Engagement
At the start, video games were designed to put players in the middle of the action. However, to add more engagement, the recent designs of video games show innovation that not just accommodate the needs of players but the spectators as well. Today, the majority of the esports titles that are available for play offer features that can allow for competition.
- Spectator Mode. As mentioned, today’s set of video games is not just designed to focus on the players. You can now find games that allow the participation of spectators. The spectator mode in esports comes in many forms. For example, you can find a tournament that allows players to watch the game progress from the competitor. Also, some in-game features allow the spectators to get access to information and statistics that are not accessible to the participants of the game. Dota 2 and Counter-Strike offer this spectator mode that can help enhance the viewing experience. And with the popularity of virtual reality handsets, players and viewers can now enjoy VR in the appreciation of the games.
- Some of the games and tournaments are held online. Through the use of the internet, players and teams can compete online in real-time. However, this arrangement will make it difficult for organizers to address cheating when it happens. Also, internet speed can affect the performance of the players or the teams. This is one reason why a major esports tournament is not hosted online.
- Local Area Network (LAN). Some competitions and tournaments are also hosted through the Local Area Network or LAN. Through this arrangement, the host or operator can ensure fair play at all times since the players and participants to the games are in the same area. And since the players are physically present in the area, it can help promote socialization which is another benefit associated with esports.
Aside from these popular game designs, the presence of these type of tournaments helps boost its popularity. These tournaments come in different forms and these are often physical events that require the presence of players in front of a live audience. Also, the competitions may be designed in different formats to reflect the objectives of the organizers. Traditionally, a tournament may feature a single or double elimination. Also, some events feature a group stage. Furthermore, some competitions require the presence of officials or referees on the floor to ensure fair play at all times.
Some of the most popular tournaments for esports today are the World Cyber Games, the North American Major League Gaming, Electronic Sports World Cup, and the World eSports Games (China). In the Philippines, the increasing popularity of Dota and Counter-Strike has led to the development of the Nationals, the first esports league in the country. The inaugural competition is set in 2019 and the games are sanctioned by the ENA of the Philippines. According to the announcement made by the league, the participating teams will compete in three video game titles. For each title, participating teams will enjoy two conferences. There will be a double round-robin group stage and the single-elimination playoffs. As of the last update, six teams have already signed up for the event.
eSports Betting as the Main Driver of Growth and Popularity
Aside from the availability of engaging games and top tournaments, the presence of sports betting on esports is another reason why the sport is huge. Today, esports betting is a popular activity and this is now accepted in many countries. And in the Philippines, betting is legal and can be enjoyed in fully licensed and regulated facilities. You can also enjoy esports betting the Philippines online but only in selected websites that are authorized by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). PAGCOR is the national agency that is in charge of regulating the betting sites and facilities around the country. Mega Sports World or MSW is one of the few websites that allow players from the Philippines to bet on esports outcomes.
Aside from the local websites, there are also offshore online casinos and sports betting sites that allow bets on this type of sport. However, care and due diligence must be practiced by the players if they are interested in Dota 2 or other types of esports. Just like the search for an online casino, it is also important that you pay attention to the license and security of the betting platform. The betting platform that you choose must be fully licensed to accept bets from players of the Philippines. Another requirement is the security and the dependability of the platform when it comes to processing payments. Since you are betting real money on the events, you want to make sure that your transactions are safe, private, and secure at all times. Furthermore, players must know the different types of bets that can be made on CS GO or Street Fighter games.
The most popular bet a player can make is the Money Line. Here, you simply put your money on the team that you think will win. Other popular bets that players can make in esports betting are Correct Score, Round Winner, Total Maps Played, Tournament Winner, and Group Winner. The presence of different types of bets, the availability of friendly betting platforms, and the instant winnings that can be earned are just some of the primary reasons why esports is here to stay. If you are looking for a different kind of sporting action with the same intensity and opportunities to bet, let this industry serve as your destination.