MANILA, Philippines – The breakthrough partnership between the PBA and Dark League Studios through their Esports Bakbakan tournament is being seen as historic as it could signal the further growth of virtual athletics in the country.
The PBA and its partner is set to launch the Bakbakan, or “battle” in Filipino around March, testing the waters first with the inaugural Mobile Legends: Bang Bang tourney.
According to Dark League CEO AC Valdenor, they are set to introduce Call of Duty Mobile, DOTA 2, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in the future.
Dark League is a partnership among Valdenor, and PBA governors Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra and Bobby Rosales of Terrafirma.
“This could influence people that there are [potential] careers in esports. There is something for you at a professional level,” said Valdenor during the introductory press conference at their office in Libis, Quezon City on Tuesday, January 24.
“It is a sport of something new that we can actually use, that we can create a community in esports, and we are very thankful to the PBA,” he added.
All 12 PBA teams shall be represented in the opening tourney, set to be held every Monday for five weeks, which shall be livestreamed on the league’s official accounts.
The top four teams after the single-round robin eliminations shall qualify to the best-of-five semifinals, targeted to be held either at the Araneta Coliseum or the Mall of Asia Arena.
Prize pool is set at P1 million – P750,000 to the winner and P250,000 for the runner-up.
“I’m excited to play, ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a gamer,” said Magnolia Hotshots guard Jerrick Ahanmisi.
Each team will have 8 players — two PBA cagers, two influencers, three fans to be drafted akin to the flair and dramatic of basketball, and one representative from the collegiate level.
Over 3,870 aspirants submitted their applications, which entails a rank of Mythical Glory, with a minimum of 600 points.
Through an extensive vetting process, which included calling all applicants, the list was whittled down to about 70 and will be picked in a special ceremony on February 13.
Led by influencer-gamers Ako si Dougie, L3bron, Ghost Wrecker, and Eric “Eruption” Tai, the PBA is banking on their popularity to draw attention to the fledgling tournament.
“Whomever came up with this, they are ingenious,” remarked Tai in Filipino.
“There is minimal difference between esports and basketball. There is Mamba mentality,” he continued, referring to the renowned mantra of the late Kobe Bryant. – Rappler.com