Before becoming esports athletes, they were only kids who played video games with friends.
Esports in the Philippines sure has come a long way.
It has evolved from online games people played to kill time to large tournaments which decide who the best players are.
There is a strong presence of gaming in Southeast Asia, Russia, America, and all around the world, and there are always players competing against each other 24/7.
It had not always been the worldwide phenomenon that it is now. If you look back to the last decade, the idea of esports in the Philippines was almost laughable. If you weren’t already on TV in the country, you had to be able to shoot 3-pointers very accurately or punch really hard to have a shot at being recognized as an excellent “athlete.”
Now, people are familiar with numerous gamers who have proven to the world that they can stand toe-to-toe with the top competitors—and a decade ago, they were mere kids, sitting in front of family computers at home or hanging out at Internet cafes down the street.
Little did they know that one day, they would become recognized as champions in what they had always loved.
All big things came from something small, and in the case of esports in the Philippines, it literally did.
Here are some of the reasons why kids are the forerunners of esports in the Philippines.
Source: Mod DB
Esports encompasses a lot of video games, such as DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
However, before esports, it was a slightly different story.
Kids in the 2000s were either playing “DOTA”, the original Defense of the Ancients map on Warcraft III; or “Counter”, the classic Counter-Strike on Windows.
They each have different stories about how they came across these games; some accidentally stumbled upon it on an elder brother’s computer, while others just happened to have a friend who discovered it by some means.
Regardless of how they found about the games, one thing came out of it: children talking about something called mana and some knowledge about assault rifles, and adults wondering where their kids picked these things up.
A hobby is defined as something you enjoy doing in your spare time. To these kids, however, it was more than just that: they would go as far make efforts to make spare time itself. As much as possible, not a single day must go by without them feasting their eyes on magical effects on a computer screen.
Kids were so deeply in love with these video games, it’s even safe to say that the kids today who are fixated on their tablets pale in comparison. No one knows why exactly they were obsessed with these games, but it was pointless to find out anyway. Parents knew that their kid wasn’t going to spend that 20-peso bill on some snacks, and take exactly 60 minutes to finish the food.
In a way, it was kind of an addictive behavior, but it wasn’t all bad. Video games gave these kids something to talk passionately about and something in common. Even when they weren’t playing the game themselves and just watching their friends, they were having good times—and it mattered the world to them.
If you were playing video games, you were cool. If you weren’t good, some might be willing to help you improve. If you were actually bad and weren’t improving, you would be famous for the wrong reasons.
There was this subculture within Filipino children where your “position in society” was determined by how good you were as a gamer.
A kid may have been one of the top students, but if he played with some die-hard gamers of the same age and performed poorly at it, he would be more remembered not as a class genius, but as a bad player.
It was unforgiving for some, but others enjoyed it and kept grinding until they were at the upper echelon. Some kids even made it their philosophy that if you weren’t good with anything else, at least be a winner when it came to gaming.
While this didn’t work out for all of them, it can’t be denied that in some children, the desire to stand out and the tenacity stayed in them, and it was what caused them to continue excelling until the time esports rapidly grew.
The Philippines is currently recognized as a competitive esports country and has experienced a good amount of success in international tournaments.
Players from the country play like true professionals, and if it weren’t for their dedication, the Philippines wouldn’t even be part of the esports conversation. It’s amazing to see that the country has its own army of gamers who can hold their own against the rest of the world.
What’s even more amazing is the fact that these gamers started out as nothing more than kids who only wanted to have fun. To them, they are not only representing the country—they are living the dream as well.
Esports is a very competitive field, but luckily, the Philippines has professional gamers who are more than capable of playing against the best of the best.
In the end, however, these professionals are the same kids who, years before, were playing to have good times with their friends.
In a way, it can be said that they are the reason why the Philippines is a successful esports country, even before the term “esports” was coined.