PBA launches esports tournament | Inquirer Sports


Cherry Valdenor (Chief Revenue Officer, Dark League Studios) , Ms. Jo Franciso (PBA Marketing Director), PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, Marc Chua (Program Director/ Head of Marketing, Dark League Studios), AC Valdenor (CEO,Dark League Studios) and Carlo Giron (Head of Operations, Dark League Studios) during the PBA Esports Bakbakan launch. –PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines–Shelved by the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) finally pulled the trigger on its plan to venture into competitive gaming.

Asia’s pioneering pro league on Tuesday unveiled “Esports Bakbakan,” a tournament set to roll out sometime around March, pitting 12 teams of eight members that will come from all walks of life.

The first season will feature the highly popular Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. Each crew, which will take from each of the league’s member clubs, will feature two PBA players, a former professional gamer or a digital content creator, three fans, and a student.

“This was part of the plans for the 45th season. We’ve already been in talks with television executives, but Covid got in the way,” commissioner Willie Marcial told the Inquirer.

“I’ve been talking to the former pros and influencers (involved) and we’re really hoping this project takes off because it’s not often you see two kinds of sporting worlds blend, right?” he added. “Two sports that are on the opposing ends [of the spectrum] and joining hands? We’re really optimistic.

The league said that nearly 4,000 fans have expressed interest in joining the showcase. Only 70 will be cleared to participate in the tournament which will also employ a drafting system similar to that of the league’s main event.

The 12 teams will figure in a single round-robin play over the course of five weeks. Games will be played every Monday until the Top 4 teams are determined. Those teams advance in a playoff that will culminate in a Finalé where P1,000,000 is at stake.

“To be a part of this is huge. Intertwining basketball and something I’m passionate about? It’s like a volcanic eruption,” said Eric Tai, a former member of the Philippine national rugby team who is one of the content creators tapped for the project.

“We’re looking for competition,” added Naser Ignacio Mollazehi also known as Akosi Dogie, a former pro gamer who furthered his fame through YouTube.

The endeavor is supported by Dark League Studios, founded by league vice chair and Terrafirma team governor Bobby Rosales and Barangay Ginebra’s Alfrancis Chua.

“There has been a separation between the community of traditional sports and esports. We do this not just to bridge the gap but to inspire the next generation,” said Dark League Studios CEO and cofounder AC Valdenor.

The PBA also intends to feature fancied shooter titles Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG, along with classic DOTA2 down the line.


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