Ball is life. For the longest time, basketball has been the most popular and most played sport in the Philippines. But a new kind of sport is here to challenge for that top spot: esports.
But just as the popular saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” That’s why the Philippine Basketball Association has joined hands with Dark League Studios to launch the first season of PBA Esports Bakbakan with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB).
What exactly is PBA Esports Bakbakan?
Way back in its 46th season, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial wanted to hold esports tournaments during off-seasons. However, the pandemic and restrictions caused their plans to be pushed back on a later date. It was last December 2022 when fans picked up a hint during the final game of Kings League that the venture was coming to light. PBA Allstar players teamed up with MLBB influencers and professional players to go against Minana Esports.
This season, all 12 existing PBA teams will be participating in the league. Each team is composed of two PBA basketball players, influencers, ex-professional players, college students, and fans of the league. A drafting system was held last February 13, 2023, revealing the final lineup for each squad.
For five consecutive weeks, the teams will play for a single round-robin. The top four teams that will emerge advances to the semifinals playing in a best of three, while the championship game will be played in a best of five.
With the goal of bridging the gap between esports and traditional sports in mind, this venture aims to create opportunities and build a new culture among younger generations.
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This collaboration is a first in Asia as esports and basketball are two different aspects in nature. Given the rapid growth of esports in the market, this is a smart move for PBA to grab this opportunity to engage with younger audiences.
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Ah, yes. We’ve finally reached the point where female athletes are drafted in the PBA. Gaming video creator Lhea Bernardino, the 4th overall pick among all the aspiring players, was drafted by Terrafirma Dyip. Alongside Bernardino are content creators and streamers Elanorm for NLEX Road Warriors, Joy Mercado of Warger Gaming for Rain or Shine Elastopainters, YuriGaming for North Port Batang Pier, and Kimberlee Si Arcillas for Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters. Lucky PBA fan Amanda Del Mar will also play for the Converge FiberXers.
MPL Akosi Dogie joins Barangay Ginebra San Miguel
Following his exit from Nexplay EVOS, the top gaming influencer in the Filipino MLBB scene is joining the most popular team in the league. Naser Mollazehi, aka “Dogie”, is recognized by the MPL PH as one of its Hall of Legends for leaving a mark on the community. His appearance in the PBA Esports Bakbakan pumped up the fans after being the most sought pick during the player draft.
See a new side of your favorite PBA players
Star players Junemar Fajardo, Jared Dillinger, and Christian Standhardinger will be playing for their respective teams San Miguel Beermen and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. We should all look forward to how these athletes play their way up to victory in MLBB.
Top-tier fan service from PBA
Aside from basketball players, content creators, and ex-professional esports athletes, the league opened its doors to college students and PBA fans. More than 4,000 hopefuls applied to represent their favorite teams but only 70 aspirants were lucky to make it to the final drafting pool.
More games = more fun!
If you’re not a fan of MLBB, don’t worry. They’re just getting started! PBA also announced their plans to expand the tournament with other games such as Call of Duty: Mobile (CODM), NBA2K Series for console, and the classic PC game Defense of the Ancients 2 (or DOTA 2). So, let’s all hope for the success of this season and pray for Valorant and League of Legends to enter the league as well.
An NFL Super Bowl-inspired game format
Carlo Giron of Dark League Studios revealed in an interview that the NFL’s Super Bowl inspired them to incorporate halftime shows in the latter weeks of the league. They are planning to invite music artists to perform and add a *little spice* to the usual game format used in esports.
Admission is free!
Be part of the live audience and witness action-packed battles live at Robinsons Galleria. Cheer for your favorite team by reserving your seats through PBA’s Facebook page for free! The games will also be live streamed and VODs will be available so you can watch replays anytime, anywhere.
The games are scheduled every Monday at 1:00 PM.
I’ll bet on Magnolia Hotshots. How about you? Which team are you rooting for?
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