Pinoy Gaming Festival 2015 takes e-sports in PH to new heights
E-sports is alive and well, if the huge turnout of the second Pinoy Gaming Festival (PGF) on May 23 - 24 is any indication.
Just a few minutes after the opening, SM North EDSA-Annex filled up fast. Hard-core gamers and casual fans alike watched various matches happening simultaneously inside the events area, as game shout casters made sure even the uninitiated passerby wouldn’t miss any of the action.
Tournaments featuring favorites DOTA2, League of Legends (LoL), Point Blank (PB), Hearthstone, and Tekken Tag offered cash prizes during the gaming weekend.
The sponsors’ booths were crowded with people looking to score some freebies or sample the new gaming tech on display.
Amid the milling crowd of young gamers, e-sports fans, or just the plain curious, was an unusual sight. An old man was seated in front of a desktop, clearly enjoying the video game he was playing – 66-year old Tony Matulac.
With his hands steady and coordinated enough to handle the intricacies of fast-twitch mouse clicks and complicated keyboard controls, Lolo Cris, as he is more popularly known in the e-gaming community, defies the stereotype that e-games are just for kids.
The tech-savvy Lolo Cris is no stranger to video games. Prior to his illness, he has been playing games such as Command and Conquer, World of Warcraft, and DOTA 1.
Lolo Cris says gaming has been his therapy after recovering from a heart illness in 2012. While recovering, he was stuck at home and bored to death. Yearning for something relaxing to do, he decided to check out the internet café near his house.
“Parang boring sa akin yung walang magawa," he says. "Sabi ko sa sarili ko gusto ko nang bumalik sa internet."
Inside, Lolo Cris found rowdy gamers young enough to be his grandchildren talking trash but evidently having fun playing DOTA 2.
Most grandparents would have admonished the noisy teenagers for wasting their time on video games. But not Lolo Cris. He found himself spending whole afternoons playing against young kids at the internet café.
“Video games are exciting," he says. "Manalo, matalo, masarap ang feeling. Enjoy ako."
While you would think that all the trash talking and flashy animation would stress him out, Lolo Cris’ doctor told him that playing video games actually helped him relax.
“Bumisita ako sa doktor, tinanong niya ako kumusta ang pakiramdam mo,” he says. "Sabi ko, eto, walang mental stress. At sinabi niya, sige lang, ituloy mo."
While he can’t compete with the younger kids in terms of hand-eye coordination and speed, Lolo Cris continues to play the e-games he enjoys. He has even become a minor celebrity within the e-sports community. During the PGF, random people would ask for their photographs to be taken with him.
“Marami akong na-meet, dito ko na-meet ang mga DOTA friends ko," he says.
Ateneo-La Salle rivalry
The Ateneo-La Salle rivalry also found its way into the League of Legends finals where Atenean team Azure Eagles went head to head against the green school’s Greatis Arkus.
With school pride at stake, both teams grabbed every advantage they could get and pounced on each mistake the other side made.
Proving that the rivalry is here to stay, the Azure Eagles and Greatis Arkus settled for a tie with a 1-1 score.
“I wanna do this long-term,” a boy who introduces himself as "ZenIsSuchACutie" says. "Maybe not professionally yet, but long-term."
But the La Salle team is all about fun. Computer science student Sherwin says, “This is more like a pastime for us.”
Day 2, meanwhile, saw gamers and admirers flock to Garena’s Point Blank play booth to watch the all-female teams battle it out in the first-person-shooter tourney.
Although they are still a minority in the e-sports community, the female gamers easily received the loudest cheers from the spectators.
The women in the tourney did not look like they card-carrying hardcore gamers. They looked like your average Jane in the mall, with some with dainty bags in tow and a swipe of gloss on their lips.
But they played hard, and played tough. The tourney went on for hours, and everyone still couldn't get enough of the ladies.
Finally, punctuating every night of the two-day e-sports fiesta was the DOTA2 tournament.
Imperium Pro Gaming, Rappler Gaming League’s Season 1 Week 3 champion, relied on its experience and familiarity among its members to best neophyte challenger Action Arena in Day 1’s DOTA2 finals.
With the PGF’s second year a huge success, the organizers are already looking to make a much bigger gaming festival next summer.
“I’m hoping that this will continue the trend that e-sports is being accepted more by the public, judging from the people that came to the event and the good reaction that we had,” said PGF organizer Joebert Yu.
He's optimistic, e-sport's bad reputation is slowly turning wholesome, one event event at a time. – Rappler.com