Smart underscores role of education, community building in the development of PH esports

In the recent Estudyante Esports SumMEET supported by Smart GIGA Arena, in partnership with Dark League Studios, Smart Omega, the professional esports team backed by Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), shared that education is important in the development of the esports industry in the Philippines.

“Education is a must, not just a plus. As esports is a growing industry, certain functions are needed to make sure that operations are met, and most of it will come from the staff and teams behind the scenes, creating a whole ecosystem of experts in your organization,” said Smart Omega’s Chief Marketing Officer Froi Endaya during his talk at the event.

Smart Omega Chief Operations Officer Patrick Cruz also reminded the students and guests at the Estudyante Esports SumMEET that a career of an esports player goes by very fast. “We always remind our players to finish their education. When you do, full buff ka na, kumpleto na items mo, hindi ka na GG.” [When you do, you are already at your highest level, your items are all complete, you can’t lose.]

Inspiring the youth to contribute to community-building

Endaya also said that Smart Omega was created to capture the hearts of aspiring Filipino gamers and take their talents to the world stage. “Because we believe Filipinos can excel in esports.”

The fast-growing local esports industry has seen Filipino players reach the world stage as part of local and international teams and organizations. Smart Omega esports athletes from different game categories have participated in many global tournaments held in Singapore, Indonesia, and the United States of America; and even represented the country as national athletes during the recent Southeast Asian Games as part of the SIBOL delegation.

“It is our mission to be present in many stages of esports – from grassroots to professional to even the national level and build a healthy community here and overseas. We want to be the leader in developing and cultivating a culture of young Filipino esports champion athletes that can compete globally,” said Jude Turcuato, PLDT and Smart Head of Sports.

In 2023, Smart and Dark League signed a multi-year partnership to support amateur esports leagues across the country and boost the growth of Philippine esports through various programs and grassroots tournaments.

“We also further strengthened our hold on the esports industry by partnering with Dark League’s initiative, Estudyante Esports, and supporting its programs like certificate courses, electives, and other necessary training that equip Filipinos with the skills, understanding, and competency that they need in the industry of esports,” said Melvin Consunji Nubla, FVP and Group Head, Go-to-Market and Subscriber Management at Smart.

As a leading mobile services provider, Smart has been heavily investing in its mobile network to provide its customers the best mobile experience possible and meet the evolving needs of Filipino mobile gamers – including the creation of Smart GIGA Arena, the country’s first all-in-one esports platform that lets users match up with fellow players to compete in daily, weekly, and monthly tournaments.

“Smart GIGA Arena is part of Smart’s long-standing support for Philippine esports to cultivate the passion, skill, and talent of Filipino gamers, providing them with a safe space to hone their skills. The platform has also showed us talented esports athletes from the grassroots level that showed great potential to move forward and become professional gamers,” added Nubla.

Since its launch in 2022, Smart GIGA Arena has brought in over 1 million users, launched over 500 games in both solo and team categories, and given away a prize pool of around P1.6 million to the delight of Filipino gamers nationwide.

Powering this program is Smart’s mobile network, which covered 97% of the population with 4G/LTE and 5G as of end-2023. This mobile network is supported by PLDT’s fiber infrastructure of 1.1 million cable kilometers, including international and domestic fiber.

Smart’s initiatives to offer relevant mobile data services and platforms to Filipinos are aligned with the PLDT Group’s endeavors to narrow the digital divide and provide connectivity to all, supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) particularly on SDG No. 9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. These also reinforce PLDT Group’s support for the Government’s overall digitalization thrust.

The Estudyante Esports SumMEET is an initiative of Dark League Studios to promote and cultivate gaming and esports in various schools and universities, together with partners from the Philippine Basketball Association, the Philippine Esports Organization (PESO), Honda, mWell, and the Philippine Sports Commission.