What the M5 World Championship's Success Means for Philippine Esports

What the M5 World Championship’s Success Means for Philippine Esports

The potential is now there for bigger and better esports events in the future.

The M5 World Championship was a resounding success, and that success has far-reaching effects for Philippine esports. As evidenced by the maxed-capacity Rizal Memorial Stadium and the record breaking number of online viewers, the Philippines is ready and willing to host more of these grand esports events.

What the M5 World Championship's Success Means for Philippine Esports
DOT Director of the Office of Film and Sports Tourism Roberto P. Alabado III (far left) takes a photo with the M5 World Champions AP.Bren. (Photo by Moonton Games)

M5 would not have been possible without the partnership of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Moonton Games. It was part of the DOT’s thrust into sports tourism and the magnitude of its success is already paying off. 

“When I went to MSummit Manila, I was speaking to people who were traveling for the first time to the Philippines. It was not because of the other great destinations that we have, it was because of esports,” said Roberto P. Alabado III, DOT Director of the Office of Film and Sports Tourism, in a recent group interview with the media.

For him, the whole process of staging M5 has been an eye-opening experience. Roberto was introduced to a world of passionate fans and organizations who are ready to travel the world. “We also had some inquiries from other games who were interested in mounting their events here in the Philippines!” 

The Future of Esports Tourism

“Esports is a niche market. It’s really the way the modern world lives and breathes now. So it’s very strategic for us to capture this niche market,” said Atty. Shereen Gael C. Yu-Pamintuan, DOT Undersecretary for Administration and Finance.

“We’re really opening up our tourism portfolio to a lot of niche markets. We are hopeful that through tournaments like this that’s capturing the newer generation that they expose themselves to our destinations as well.”

What the M5 World Championship's Success Means for Philippine Esports
Dancers perform a mixture of modern and traditionally inspired dances for the opening ceremony of the M5 World Championship Grand Finals. (Photo by Moonton Games)

Atty. Shereen also expressed interest in the possibility of hosting these esports events outside of Metro Manila. However, the logistical hurdle of mounting such events needs to be overcome first. “We’ve brought in over 390 people for staff alone,” said Kelly Chiew, Moonton Games’ Head of Public Relations, on M5. “We’re close to 60 international and 40 local media partners. It’s an immense thing.” 

Still, the DOT is on board for more esports events after M5 as it’s another way to bring attention to the passion and beauty of the Philippines. “There’s so many reasons to love the Philippines and this is just the beginning,” says Atty. Shereen.

Building from Momentum

While hosting M5 was a boom for Philippine esports, it’s not the first time we’ve held an international esports tournament. We have REV Major, one of the biggest fighting game events in Southeast Asia. The annual tournament gets participants from Korea, Japan is, and other Asean countries although the scale isn’t comparable to M5.

The closest comparison would be The Manila Major, the first and so far last Dota 2 major held in the Philippines. The week-long tournament was as every bit as prestigious as Major should be. Held in the Mall of Asia Arena, it boasted a 3,000,000 USD prize pool and was regarded as one of the best majors of that year. No surprise considering how much Filipinos love Dota.

Yet after the Manila Major, no other big esports events followed it. It’s wild that it would take seven years for another major international esports event to be held in the Philippines. You could say that it was because there was no external support for esports despite its success. But things are different now, especially since we have the DOT on board.

“Thanks to [M5] we now have the capacity and experience on how to do it properly and how to coordinate with our fellow government agencies,” says Roberto. 

Hopefully this time, with this momentum, it’ll be enough to really make the Philippines esports scene break boundaries.

Banner photo by Moonton Games.

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