DESPITE the challenges it is facing, The Nationals, the country’s top e-sports competition, intends to start its second season this September.
Originally set to start last March, the league has been forced to make necessary adjustments as the coronavirus pandemic relegated sports in the back seat. Among those changes is the plan to shift the games online.
E-sports is a non-contact sport to begin with, and moving the games online allows the league to run while completely eliminating physical human contact.
Commissioner Ren Vitug said The Nationals can bring joy and hope to the people, e-sports being one of the best equipped to do that while maintaining distancing protocols.
“We think that there is an opportunity to inspire,” Vitug said. “Not just in giving joy to the people, but also by using the platform; we have to spread awareness. The league generates jobs for a lot of players, their support staff, and in many other interfaces.”
While online play seems synonymous with e-sports, The Nationals is unique in that all of its tournament games last year were played in a studio setting. That opened opportunities in production like live audiences, captured player reactions, and on-the-spot interviews – something that other e-sports events and leagues rarely have.
For this year, The Nationals plans to line-up the three games it featured last season, namely, Tekken 7, Dota 2 and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. Pending approval, the games will be played for a conference in that order.
Because of the current health situation, the league plans to have a shortened season where it will only have three conferences this season compared to the six last year
The Nationals have been working closely with the Games and Amusements Board to ensure that if and when the league resumes, it will not be at the expense of the health and safety of its stakeholders.
The Nationals is the country’s first franchise-based eesports league. It was launched last year featuring three games, opening opportunities for more than a hundred local professional athletes.
Aside from the regular salary of the active players, the league also came out with incentives of more than P5,000,000 in its first season.
The league’s players also helped secure medals for the Philippines in the eesports competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.