The Philippines is set to kick off their first franchise-based esports league later this month. The Nationals is an ambitious project that hopes to take control of the Filipino market with its extensive scope. The six founding corporations all have a stake in the league itself, hoping to create a franchise that spans multiple games. They are also beginning their inaugural season with three video games rather than focusing on just one, separating them into PC Gaming, Mobile Gaming and Console Gaming.
This is a unique choice and if they can manage the logistics could prove fruitful as they cast a much wider net to gain an immediate audience. With DOTA 2 and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang easily claiming the PC and Mobile game spots, there was some uncertainty on the third title. Having to decide between NBA 2K and Tekken 7, the league opted for the fighting game, perhaps due to its popularity in the region.
Spurred on by the inclusion of esports in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games held in Manila at the end of the year, this league is a massive initiative in the hopes of creating a National team for the Philippines. Interestingly, the demonstration games from the 2018 Asian Games did not include any of the three games chosen for The Nationals, so it’s unclear whether they are aware of a change in the line-up for the SEA Games or if they are hoping for a change.
While this project signals a significant push towards the acceptance of esports, with the league being supported by the eSports National Association of the Philippines (ESNAP), there is a notable absence in the tournament’s line-up. TheNet.com, more commonly known as TNC, are missing from the official photos of the launch. Boasting one of the most successful SEA teams in DOTA 2, TNC would be the front runners to dominate the DOTA 2 division, but while they were part of the initial founding teams and helped to facilitate qualifiers, their elite team is seemingly missing from this tournament.
Esports Insider says: This is a fascinating initiative coming out of the Philippines that seem to have good intentions and smart decisions heading into its inaugural season. However the absence of TNC’s DOTA 2 team is concerning, as they are easily the most recognisable and strongest force that Philippines has to offer. Nevertheless, this will be a tournament to watch heading into the 2019 SEA Games later this year.