MANILA (Xinhua) – 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games esports event kicked off here at Manila’s San Juan Arena on Thursday.
This is the first time esports tournament was included in the SEA Games as a regular event, as well as in a regional multi-sports meet worldwide.
Six gold medals are at stake for the six-day tournament with the video games of Dota 2, StarCraft II, Hearthstone, Tekken 7, Arena of Valor, and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB).
In the opening day’s competitions, Malaysia held a draw with Vietnam 1-1, Laos lost to Thailand 2-1 in the MLBB category. The hosts’ Caviar Acampado beat Jonathan Wong of Malaysia in the StarCraft II bout.
The hosts’ team, coached by South Korean Im Changrok whose on-line nickname is “Master Panda”, will see action at the event with 27 Filipino games fighting for their country.
“We hope we can grab four golds out of the six,” Im told Xinhua, adding that the Filipino athletes are very proud of receiving the call up from their country.
Kyle Angelo, a Filipino gamer of MLBB, told Xinhua that he and his teammates prepared for the SEA Games for almost two months and they were very excited to participate in the regional sports meet as an athlete like those in the football or basketball event.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino was invited to the ceremonial opening of the event. In his speech, Tolentino said esports are becoming more and more popular among people of all ages, that is the reason why 2019 SEA Games includes the event in as a regular sport.
Esports event was featured at the 2018 Asian Games as a demonstration sport, meaning medals won in this sport would not be counted in the official overall medal tally.
“I see esports athletes from all around the region coming for the SEA Games and they will dress the national uniforms to represent their country. Let us ‘win us one’,” said Kenneth Fok, the president of Asian Esports Federation.