The national esports organization of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has expressed optimism that there will come a time when esports will be included in collegiate leagues such as the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“It’s just a matter of acceptance,” Marlon Marcelo, acting executive director of the Philippine Esports Organization (PESO), told an online business forum hosted by the Manila Times on Tuesday. “Because we already know that esports is already a medal-winning sport in the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games. Sooner or later, it will flourish.”
Marcelo noted that he is well aware that some schools, such as De La Salle University, already have esports clubs and organizations.
He said it would all depend on the “insistence” of the UAAP and NCAA that esports can truly become a legitimate sport.
“It will all depend on the collegiate athletic councils. That will come sooner rather than later because other countries already have collegiate esports leagues. So what’s the difference with us in the Philippines? I don’t see any,” said Marcelo said.
Still, he pointed out that the initiative will come from PESO as its priority is to spread esports throughout the country.
“There are challenges because the organization is newly established. We just started a year ago, but one of our mandates is to field international athletes,” he said.
Marcelo said that PESO reaches out to different government agencies to help them learn more about esports.
He said the Ministry of Education has already approached the organization to consult with them for a possible digital Palarong Pambansa.
At the just-concluded 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA) in Hanoi, Vietnam, Filipino esports representatives Team Sibol won 2 gold and 2 silver medals.
Currently, PESO is preparing for the esports game titles of Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 and SEA Games 2023 in Cambodia.
According to data shared by Marcelo during the forum, 43 million Filipinos now play esports with the total gaming revenue in 2019 pegged at 572 million pesos.
On the other hand, the top Philippine online gaming platforms are mobile (74%), PC (65%), console (45%) and cross-platform (36%).
The Philippines is currently ranked 25th globally in the esports market, making the country a key driver of the overall Southeast Asian gaming market.