Esports may have already introduced itself as the next big thing as its true potential has been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of the continuing restrictions worldwide, Esports ascended meteorically from being the distant future of sports to the sports of the present – boasting enormous following and a hefty market.
With that, Esports has also extended its reach to the academe, and schools and universities are welcoming it with open arms through the newly-minted Collegiate Center for Esports (CCE) which streams on CALM network, presented by Bio-Agrownica and Rebel Sports.
“We have to adapt with the changing times. We have to ride with the trend. Esports give student-athletes an opportunity to try out something new. It’s inspiring in a sense,” Arellano University athletics director Peter Cayco said.
“It’s an alternative and the best alternative. Its online nature is part of the realization in time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have no choice but to go in that direction,” Fr. Vic Calvo of Letran added.
And schools, indeed, have stepped into that direction by participating in the inaugural CCE, an organized collegiate Esports league starting with the renowned Mobile Legends: Bang Bang game.
CCE has ushered in its MLBB 1-on-1 Exhibition Matches last month featuring varsity athletes from Arellano University, College of St. Benilde, Emilio Aguinaldo College, Jose Rizal University, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Mapua University, San Beda University, San Sebastian College - Recoletos, and University of Perpetual Help System DALTA.
Next month, it will launch the main 5-on-5 MLBB Varsity Cup event among basketball players with a plan of making it a seasonal event among interested schools, hopefully, nationwide.
This is on top of the established Esports clubs and tournaments in some of the said schools while others like Lyceum and St. Benilde have even notched the gear higher with official Esports academic courses.
“Esports now is a growing passion not only for the youth. It’s still in infancy but the potential is huge. I’m excited about what can happen in the future,” said director Hercules Callanta of Lyceum, which has introduced the country’s first Bachelor of Science in Esports with tracks on Esports Management and Game and Design Development.
“Esports is kind of a way to stay relevant. It’s allowed and safe in this difficult time. Now, it can also be a career path. It’s a successful program for Benilde,” added CSB’s Dax Castellano as the school also has Bachelor of Science in Interactive Entertainment and Multimedia Computing with majors in Game Development and Game Art.
San Beda, for its part, is still scratching the surface with hopes of learning more about the booming discipline from its CCE participation.
“It’s an opportunity for us to learn more about Esports and to have an open door for SBU for some courses and training for students who would want to engage in that kind of field. We do not know what will happen in future and if it grows, SBU will be on board already,” said Atty. Jonas Cabochan.
“For now, it’s a good thing for athletes to have something to look forward to. The spirit of competition is alive.”
The said schools are already in the process of assembling a solid squad for the CCE main event next month, with hopes of also producing the country’s future medalists in the rising Esports discipline that has started making its way as an official games in some international events.
The Philippines for one had won the inaugural Esports event of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games while calls to list it in bigger international tournaments like the Asian Games and Olympics are also underway – proving its limitless potential now in the pandemic and beyond.