Not that Team Sibol doesn't have enough motivation to haul gold medals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, but Filipino gamers will be setting their eyes on a different kind of prize.
The Philippine esports representatives have the chance to become a million pesos richer through Smart's "Get Gold!" campaign, which basically incentivizes every top podium finish in the locally held SEA Games. Sibol athletes will net P2 million for team competitions (Dota 2, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Arena of Valor), while P1M await those winners in individual events (Tekken 7, Hearthstone. Star Craft).
Hearthstone player Jacinta "Jia" Dee, the country's lone female rep, was pleasantly surprised upon learning about the initiative.
"I was shocked, honestly," she told SPIN Life during a recent Sibol press conference at Raffles in Makati. "Even sa Asian Games, where I was a caster, I'm not sure kung may cash incentive. And yung medal count wasn't actually official there, parang demonstration medals lang."
According to Jia, the incentive program says a lot about the willingness of local organizations — and the government as a whole — to support and invest in esports, more than the monetary value: "I'm really happy about it."
The veteran-laden Sibol squad, whose battle cry "Lakad Matatag" resonates with every Pinoy gamer, is expected to have a smashing debut in the SEA Games.
Get Gold! is just a part of Smart's partnership with our first national esports contingent. The telco has also introduced Sibol Training Ground, where athletes can train using the latest mobile network innovations, not to mention regularly participate in pocket tournaments and test events.
PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart Communications, Inc. President Al Panlilio said, "This is a huge milestone for esports, and it is our greatest honor to support the best Filipino gamers as they prove that we have the talent, skill, and drive to dominate this increasingly growing scene."