MANILA, Philippines – Mobile Legends has become a popular pastime among thousands, if not millions, of Filipinos across the country. But it’s more than just that for 7 young athletes.
What at first seemed like just another mobile game played for fun later became their careers and their chance to bring glory to the Philippines. (READ: ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’: What you need to know)
Sibol Philippines, the national esports team for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, has assembled a seven-man all-star lineup of some of the country’s best Mobile Legends players: Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa, Karl Gabriel “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno, Carlito “Ribo” Ribo, Jeniel “Haze” Bata-anon, Angelo Kyle “Pheww” Arcangel, Allan Sancio “Lusty” Castromayor, and Jason Rafael “Jay” Torculas.
While all the members of the team have international experience, they all admitted that it’s a different feeling to be representing the country in this type of competition.
“Excited kami, lalo na ang daming teams, 11 teams. Tapos bansa talaga yung rerepresent mo. Hindi ‘yung isang kompanya lang,” said team captain Arcangel.
(We’re excited, especially because there are a lot of teams. 11 teams. And we’re representing the country, not just one company.)
The team grabs every opportunity they can to train together and develop the synergy and chemistry they need to win. This is not as easy as it sounds as they each come from different professional teams with different training schedules. (READ: ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’: Pro tips from the Sibol players)
“Inadjust namin ‘yung training schedule namin so wala na talaga kaming day off. Kapag walang tournament, doon kami nagtretraining,” said Arcangel.
(We adjusted our training schedule so that we really don’t have a day off. If we don’t have other tournaments, that’s when we train together.)
Despite their tiring schedule, the Sibol players all share the same passion for the game with each other – the same passion that pushed them to become esports athletes in the first place.
“Hindi ko naman ineexpect ganito yung mangyayari. Iniisip ko pa ‘nun: ‘Mag-aaral ba o maglalaro?’ Sinugal ko yun. Nagstop ako,” said Villa.
(I was not expecting all of this to happen. Back then I asked myself: Do I continue studying or to just play professionally? I took a gamble. I stopped studying.)
They’re hoping this very passion shines through in their coming games so that they can prove those who doubt the legitimacy of esports as a real sport that they too can make the Philippines proud.
“Expected naman namin na may mga ganun nga, mga bashers, lalo na ‘yung mga sinasabi nila na ‘yung budget daw na pang SEA Games sa tunay na athletes na lang dapat kasi sports talaga ‘yung focus,” said Arcangel.
“Pero papatunayan rin namin na competitive rin kami. Tapos kaya namin mag-uwi ng gold medal para sa Pilipinas.”
(We expected bashers, especially those who say that the SEA Games budget should only be for ‘real athletes’. But we want to prove that we’re also competitive. And we can bring home a gold medal for the Philippines.) – Rappler.com
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