CHANGE. Even esports had to adapt to the impacts brought on by the coronavirus. Submit picture by Ted Aljibe/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Not even esports was spared by the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Local esports leagues like the Mobile Legends Bang Specialist League Philippines (MPL PH) and The Nationals needed to close down as the government enforced neighborhood quarantine in a number of areas.

MPL PH suspended its tournament midway through its 5th season while The Nationals postponed the opening of its 2nd season – both in March.

The Nationals and MPL PH hold their video games in a studio in front of esports fans, however with the federal government ban on mass events, they were required to shelve their seasons and hit the brakes.

” We still wished to push through because we believed it was an opportunity for us due to the fact that there was no sporting event heading out there,” stated The Nationals commissioner Ren Vitug.

” We have offers with TELEVISION platforms. We understand if we were able to press through, we’re going to be live in these channels because there are no other sports.”

” On the other hand, we’ve seen the gravity of the scenario [and] we started looking at it more seriously,” Vitug added.

Doing online tournaments could have been the service as games like Dota 2 and Mobile Legends can be played from another location.

Nevertheless, unpredictable web connection and the fact that colleagues were far from each other postured a significant issue.

” I think a good parallel is working from home. It’s something people believe it’s simple enough to do – you have internet connection and you have a gadget. But there’s a great deal of other obstacles that impede you,” Vitug stated.

” There will be problems with the internet. You have to do things in the house since you’re with your household. When they’re contending for hundreds of countless pesos, it’s going to be frustrating, it’s not just irritating.”

” That shows to the broadcast as well. It would clearly draw if we’re going to have a broadcast with numerous stops briefly. That happens in the video game, it does not occur in a lot of sports.”

Vitug included online competitions are not necessarily cheap, with several individuals required to work behind the scenes.

Those include shoutcasters, graphic artists, organizers, and production personnel.

” I believe for any occasion today, for a mid-level event, you would be anticipating immediate replays [and] cutscene graphics, which in theory can not be run by just an individual or more, it needs to be a production team.”

Program must go on

After more than a month in hiatus, MPL PH returned to action in May with an online-only format, with players joining their groups in their respective bootcamp for the regular season and the playoffs.

The livestream of the playoffs drew record numbers in audiences as millions watched the three-day occasion on Facebook.

Day 1 accumulated nearly 4 million views, Day 2 had 3.2 million views, while Day 3 – which saw Sunsparks crown itself as the very first two-time MPL PH champions – accumulated 3.5 million views.

” [The coronavirus] may have altered the method we operate because there is still a physical aspect in esports,” said esports shoutcaster Dan Cubangay in a mix of Filipino and English.

” But up until now, I think we’re enduring. I believe we’re succeeding, we’re doing all right.”

Cubangay, however, confessed there is a big distinction in between online and on-site competitions.

” Since we lost the physical aspect of esports, it’s not as appealing. It’s various when you see the crowd, when you’re there and you feel the energy,” Cubangay stated.

” I feel that it became less of a sport, it ended up being more of just viewing games, it ended up being more video gaming.”

” But that’s an advantages and disadvantage at the exact same time. I don’t know how long it can continue to be simply online. I feel that it can.”

As the federal government unwinded quarantine measures, Vitug stated The Nationals will seek a return once the federal government provides correct standards and they can guarantee the safety of their players and staff. –