WHEN IT comes to business, the Laus Group has its fingers in many, many pies.
The conglomerate runs the largest automotive dealership network in the country, managing showrooms for various car and motorcycle brands all over northern Luzon and other parts of the Philippines. Drive north out of Manila, and you’re bound to run into, for example, one of the Laus Group’s many Carworld dealerships, which have been selling Mitsubishis for the past forty years.
But in the vicious multiplayer arena of business, diversification is the key meta.
So on top of its strong core in automotives, the Laus Group also fields key companies in construction, media, real estate, and hospitality. It operates an insurance brand, and franchises many popular restaurant brands, including Dencio’s, Pancake House, Coffee Bean, Yellow Cab, and fried chicken destination Max’s.
And then there is esports.
Paul Laus, president of the conglomerate, is quite frank. “It’s really a very small slice of the business of the Laus Group,” he told Spin.ph in an interview.
But as a longtime gamer, that “small slice” is one that lies very close to his heart. As a big fan and player of NBA video games, it’s especially gratifying that one of the teams he runs, the Laus Group Esports (LGE) crew of NBA 2K players, recently clinched the top spot in the 2K Veterans’ League tournament.
LGE fought hard against rivals Playbook Esports, finishing 4-2 in the best-of-seven series that concluded only last weekend.
Both LEG and Playbook Esports have also combined forces to form the dream team of E-Gilas — the official national team for NBA 2K, which has so far walked away with two golds in the past three Fiba Esports Opens.
In the Mobile Legends side, the two organizations also fielded the Laus Playbook Esports squad, which made its debut in MPL-PH’s seventh season.
“Esports in the Philippines has the potential to be very huge,” Laus said.
Note that Laus is speaking of potential. The scene, he says candidly, may not be quite there yet at the present time.
Throughout our interview, the affable executive held nothing back. “We are still very optimistic. I can say lalaki ang esports dito sa Pilipinas in a matter of time. But as esports investors, di naman kami nag-e-expect ng malaking returns so far,” he said. “We're just preparing for the future.”
He added: “Malay mo in the future, it will be a good business. But at this point, it's not yet a business, but a passion.”
It’s a passion that he’s been pouring much of his time, energy, and money over the past few years, when he first got a group of NBA 2K enthusiasts together and began setting up pocket tournaments.
But it’s not a scattershot strategy. Laus is playing with the long game in mind. “Yung advocacy ko kasi is to develop esports in the countryside,” he said. “Gusto ko naman bigyan ng break yung mga bata sa countryside.”
Paul runs the Laus Group of Companies from Pampanga, and it’s natural that he wants to see his own passion move away from the common urban centers it’s currently based in. While the pandemic has frustrated many of his plans at the moment, he’s long been planning to set up regional pocket tournaments.
“Puro kasi Metro Manila e. Right now I’m partnering with other esports investors dito sa probinsya. ‘Total, taga-probinsya ka rin, develop natin yung mga bata sa probinsya,’ kako. More opportunities for people in the province, the better, kasi alam mo naman, yung mga opportunities dito, di naman napakalaki,” he said.
It’s a worthy goal. “I feel na mas maraming taong matutulungan niyan.”