Souped-up PH esports team Sibol sets SEA Games scheme
MANILA, Philippines–Sibol, the Philippines’ national esports team, is looking to deliver an even better campaign when the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games unfurls this May.
“From 50 percent last year—I’ll put my name on the line— realistically speaking, I’m expecting a little higher. Around 70 percent, at least, that we’ll perform better,” head coach Ralph Llabares said during a kickoff presser held by the Philippine Esports Organization (Peso) Thursday afternoon at the TV5 studios in Mandaluyong City.
“With our competitiveness, the excellence that the athletes are currently showing us, we’ve got great expectations for them. So we’re expecting meaningful results to come out of the SEA Games this year,” said Sibol general manager Jab Escutin.
The Philippines managed to collect three golds, a silver and a bronze in the last edition of the biennial meet, finishing as the No. 1 country in the esports medal tally. The Nationals bagged top prizes in the Dota 2, Starcraft II and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and podium finishes in the Tekken 7 event.
Sibol is set to send a 64-man contingent (55 athletes) into the Vietnam showcase which is set to run from May 12 through 23 and will now feature more events: Fifa 4, CrossFire, Garena Free Fire, League of Legends: Wild Rift, and PUBG.
Bannering the delegation are veterans of the world-renowned Blacklist squad Johnmar “OhMyV33nus” Villaluna, Danerie James “Wise” del Rosario, and Salic “Hadji” Imam. As World Champions, they will be shooting for no less than a gold in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang event.
This edition of the national team was assembled by picking the finest teams across the country—an approach that was driven by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Llabares.
“First we put into consideration is the COVID situation. It would’ve been better for us to conduct a bootcamp of sorts to handpick (talents). But since they may come all over the Philippines, that would be hard for us,” he said.
“Another is most of the teams participating now for the Philippines, who will be our representatives, are actually the number one teams in the region already. So … it was already a (logical) decision for us because they’re proven as the best,” he added.
Sibol, which has been hard at work at Brenn Esports Facility in Makati, is set to fly to Hanoi around the second week of May, with Peso bracing for tough outings from host Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.
But SEA Games chef de mission Ramon Fernandez is steadfast in the belief that the Philippines will emerge as the finest nation once again.
“I’ve heard so much about esports and I know for a fact that they did very well (the last time). I’m really hoping and praying that our athletes live up to our expectations,” he said.