After Sibol rules IESF Worlds, PeSO banks on 'learning curve' to preserve 'Philippines numbah wan' status as grind for 2026 Asiad begins

AP Bren's WEC MLBB title sent Sibol to the top of the esports world, but with revenge in mind for the 2026 Asian Games, Sibol will lean on the learning curve in future international and club events. MPL Philippines (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MAKATI--Earlier this September, the Philippines became "numbah wan" after Sibol, the national esports team, claimed the overall championship in the World Esports Championships.

In the WEC, Sibol won one gold through AP Bren in the Mobile Legends Bang Bang tournament and one silver through Alex Laverez in the Tekken 7 event.

However, later that month spilling through early October, Sibol suffered a quick setback as they were blanked during the entire Asian Games esports event in Hangzhou.

Not to mention that the supposed domination of the Philippines in the MLBB was compromised a bit during the midyear when ONIC Indonesia ruled the MLBB Southeast Asia Cup, beating Blacklist International in the grand finals, although many believed that ONIC Indonesia improved drastically after recruiting coach Paul Miranda and Kairi Rayosdelsol from its Philippine branch.

With a lot of esports events coming up like the M5 World Championships at the EVM Convention Center in Quezon City and the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila this December, the Asia-Pacific Predator League at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, the new qualification format for The International 2024, and the 2024 WEC, Philippine Esports Organization executive director Marlon Marcelo believes a learning curve is needed if the Philippine esports scene must be improved so the Sibol program could stay on top of the mountain.

"[The setbacks are] also part of let's say a learning curve wherein we actually engage with different countries na mas malakas yung esports program," Marcelo said during the Philippine media launch of the Predator League on Thursday night at Whitespace Manila.

He cited the cases of Japan, South Korea, and China as "different beasts from what we've seen so far."

China ruled the inaugural Asian Games esports event after grabbing four golds headlined by the DOTA 2 championship with LGD's Wang Chunyu leading the way and one bronze.

South Korea grabbed two golds, one silver, and one bronze, while Japan also went home without a medal like Sibol.

Marcelo also believes that becoming more frequent in joining esports events should help as well in building the needed chemistry to become championship contenders down the road, especially with the 2026 Asian Games on the horizon.

"More tournaments, more chances of us getting scrimmages and getting competitive as we move forward to the next phase of the journey, which is making sure that in the next Asian Games in Japan, lalaban na yang mga teams natin kasi mas ready na tayo," he further said.

The Predator League this January could help DOTA 2 clubs Execration, Polaris, Sibol's Asian Games representative, and Blacklist, which is rumored to be bringing in Abed Yusop to its fold, and Valorant side Team Secret build up to become better clubs for their respective quest for global supremacy as well as their bids to become Sibol's representatives for the 2024 WEC.

Needless to say, for PeSO, the ultimate goal now is to become "numbah wan" in the next Asiad.

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