'Palaro' to hold MLBB event as demo sport

By Ivan Saldajeno

MARIKINA--Esports is making its way to the Palarong Pambansa.

Just as the annual grassroots and youth sporting event makes a return after a three-year wait, the Palaro goes a notch higher as a Mobile Legends Bang Bang tournament will happen within it as a demonstration sport.

The Philippine Esports Organization has been tapped to help the city government here, the Department of Education, and the Philippine Sports Commission in organizing the Palaro MLBB event.

"Happy kami na yung esports is part of the demo sports. We're really happy na in-approve siya ng DepEd. It's heartwarming na kinausap kami ng Marikina LGU (local government unit) to provide guidance to actually do it," PESO executive director Marlon Marcelo said during the press launch for the Palaro at the Marikina Sports Center on Friday. "This is a very big step for Philippine esports kasi recognized na siya ng Palaro."

Only MLBB, where the Philippines is known as a global powerhouse, will be played in the de facto inaugural staging of the Palaro esports event.

"We chose the most accessible game para sa Palaro. Most of the Filipinos right now use their mobile phones to actually play the game, so Mobile Legends muna ang ni-recommend namin sa board," Marcelo explained.

However, he added that the Palaro esports tournament could expand to other titles like the popular computer games DOTA 2 and Valorant once it gets promoted to a regular sport as soon as next year.

Cebu City, Antique, and Negros Occidental are bidding for the hosting rights for the 2024 Palaro, but considering their economic advancements, Cebu and Negros Occidental's capital city of Bacolod could provide bigger venues for the esports event should more titles be played.

For now, according to Marcelo, the goal is the successful staging of the 2023 Palaro MLBB event.

"Since this is a demo sport, we would want to make sure that everything is smooth as possible on the first try. Mas madali kasing i-organize yung MLBB, to be honest, just because Valorant and DOTA 2 require PCs (personal computers) and a very stable internet connection, so it's really one of the optics na kailangang ayusin," he further said.

While the eligibility guidelines have yet to be placed for the Palaro MLBB tournament, Marcelo said that pros are not allowed to join even if they are still studying in high school.

"Patas naman itong laban na ito," Marcelo further said. "I would say that this is a very even playing field."

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