The first Major of the year will not be in the Philippines, as Galaxy Battles 2 loses its Valve accreditation.
In a short and swift announcement by Valve, they rescinded all of their involvement with Galaxy Battles 2, two weeks before the event was set to start. This means that Galaxy Battles 2 will no longer be part of the Dota Pro Circuit, and as such loses all of its QP allotment and Valve’s portion of the prize pool. Valve claims that their revocation of Galaxy Battles 2’s status has been caused by “unreasonable infringements on the privacy of players”.
The Games and Amusement Board (GAB), a government agency, in its recognition of esports to be on-par as traditional sports, has been putting esports on the same standards as they do for traditional sports. As per requirement, foreign players participating in Filipino events will have to apply for an athletic license, which costs Php800 (~$16). This license is to be renewed annually. A part of the application process for the license was a mandatory drug test for marijuana and methamphetamine (known locally as shabu). Although marijuana is illegal in the Philippines, recreational or medical use of the substance is perfectly legal in other countries, which might be a cause of concern for some players and teams.
GAB claims in a public statement meant to clarify issues with the Galaxy Battles situation that the drug test “is in place for safety and health reasons as well as for the protection of the integrity of the games”.
Some teams have already pulled out of the event due to it not featuring QP. In a tweet by Virtus.pro’s account, they announced their withdrawal from the tournament, despite their direct invite. Mineski, Team Secret, OpTic Gaming, Team Kinguin and Newbee have also pulled out of the tournament, as well as TI defending champions Team Liquid.
As of press time, Galaxy Battles 2 is still pushing through.
What does this say about the future of Philippine esports? GAB claims in the same statement above that they are confident that local and events will continue to grow in number and in scale. Meanwhile, Tier One Entertainment creative director Pao Bago stated on Facebook that if nothing changes, the precedent Valve is making would make it hard for many organizers to pass up the Philippines as the venue for a DPC event. He is however hopeful that the GAB and local esports industry stakeholders could work together to find a way around this issue.
I personally think that these developments would indeed affect the local esports industry negatively, but it won’t be the end for esports in general. Compliance to rules and regulations set upon by government agencies is a must, however it is equally important to communicate these rules and regulations clearly to all individuals and institutions involved in esports. The lack of clear guidelines by GAB regarding esports’ place in the local sporting arena creates a lot of confusion not only for international event organizers, but to local players as well. I am optimistic that moving forward, these kinds of setbacks could be avoided with proper communication.
I believe that everything have their ups and downs. Even if the trajectory of the local esports industry is going up, it will still experience bumps on the road. With that being said, let the phoenix be a reminder to everyone. The torches may have been put out for now, but the phoenix shall rise from the ashes, burning brighter than ever.
Philippine esports will still flourish.
Neutral has been playing video games since he was a little kid. He started being competitive when he and his brother would bet favors for each other depending on who wins at the PS2 game Naruto Shippuuden. Recently he has been playing Dota2 and Animal Crossing on his revived 3DS. It is his dream to be part of the formation of the eSports version of UAAP through UP Gaming Guild’s Impetus Intercollegiate Dota2 League.
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