This year marks the very first time that esports was included as part of the medal events in the Southeast Asian Games. This has put some well-deserved spotlight on the Philippines' talented esports athletes.
Before 2019 ends, SPIN.ph lists down 10 of the most accomplished local esports athletes that have represented the Filipino spirit on different international stages.
EnDerr - StarCraft II
Caviar "EnDerr" Acampado has been an OG powerhouse in the StarCraft II esports community. He has been playing the game ever since he was 12 years old and has been getting first place in events since 2011. Coming from an unfortunate runner-up finish World Electronic Sports Games this 2019, losing to Tran "MeomaikA" Hong Phuc from Vietnam, he went into SEA Games thirsty for retribution. He dominated his rival and the rest of the competition by winning the first individual gold medal for the esports category.
AK - Tekken 7
The Tekken 7 prodigy of the Philippines, Alexendre Laverez (better known as "AK"), was one of the crowd favorites to garner the gold this SEA Games. Unfortunately, Nopparut "Book" Hempamorn of Thailand brought out a surprising pick and won over the hometown hero, resulting in a silver medal for the 18-year-old Laverez.
Despite this defeat, Laverez didn't seem to lose any of his fighting spirit. In a post-event interview: "Nakausap ko po siya [si Hempamorn]. Sabi ko sa kanya, 'Why didn't you use Jin?' Lagi ko na kasi siyang tinatalo sa mga tournament kaya tinago niya na raw 'yung Jin niya," AK said with a slight laugh.
Doujin - Tekken 7
Andreij "Doujin" Albar was also one of the favorites to win gold for the Philippines in the recent SEA Games.
But in an unfortunate string of events, Albar went up against, and lost, to his Sibol teammate, Alexendre "AK" Laverez, and he settled for a bronze medal. Undeterred by this loss, he referred to the result as a "disappointment for us [AK]" since they both "pretty confident" that they were going to get the gold and silver medals based on their skills and track records.
Erice - Dota 2
James "Erice" Guerra is a prime example of how to put your country's interests before your own.
Guerra was the substitute player for Team Sibol in the SEA Games. About a week before the opening, his professional team, Cignal Ultra, was defeated by TNC Predator in the qualifier finals due to some unlucky network issues. To preserve the team synergy of Team Sibol, whose members were mostly made up of Adroit members, he and his fellow Cignal teammate, Van Jerico "Van" Manalaysay, gave up their chance to play and supported Team Sibol behind-the-scenes.
In a post-event interview, Guerra had this to say, "Masaya ako kasi hindi naman kami dito Team Adroit or Team Cignal... 'Yung hawak naming pangalan nung nanalo is Team Philippines."
KarlTzy - Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
The 15-year-old, Karl Gabriel "KarlTzy" Nepomuceno, the youngest esport athlete in the Sibol roster, completely destroyed Indonesia in the finals of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang with a 7-0 score during the first few minutes of the fifth game of the finals. There's no better way to announce your arrival in a scene than that.
Haze - Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
Jeniel "Haze" Bata-anon is a very popular player in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang scene for being an aggressive tank that makes risky yet calculated plays. He did an awesome job during his entire SEA Games rally by soaking up damage and initiating team fights for his carries. His pocket pick Chou and Akai were prime targets for bans by any opposing team in the competition.
Gabbi - Dota 2
Not only did Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte (with his team, TNC Predator) take home USD 300,000 (more than PHP 15 million) from MDL Chengdu Major, he was also named the Most Valuable Player of the mentioned event.
Villafuerte's Morphling was a sight to behold during the last few games of the finals as he and his teammate Timothy "Tims" Randrup hunted down the members of VICI Gaming with their classic Morphshaker combo.
Tims - Dota 2
Timothy "Tims" Randrup's skill efficiency on his main heroes is one of the best in the world. His finesse shines through the nuances of how well he protects his carries, zones the enemy team from objectives, and assists in key plays in each game, especially in the recent MDL Chengdu Major.
His patience and overwhelming presence on the map allowed his carries to be able to farm up and take late game with ease.
Kenji - Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
Kenneth Jiane "Kenji" Villa's constant split-pushing pressure ensures that the rest of his team could always engage in team fights at an advantage. By bringing at least two of the enemy team's members to chase after him, Sibol's opponents could not make use of their team synergies to their full extent. Villa's mastery of slippery heroes like Chou almost always buys enough time for his team to take objectives and/or exert pressure on different parts of the map.
Boomy - Dota 2
Heroes truly come when you most need them. Team Thailand seemed to have Game 5 of the SEA Games Dota 2 Finals in the bag, but through some careful and decisive plays by Team Captain Marvin "Boomy" Rushton and John Anthony "Natsumi-" Vargas, Sibol got back into the game. Clutch Black Holes from Rushton changed the tide of the entire series, which resulted in a well-fought gold medal victory for Sibol.