Smart Siklab Saya empowers PH ‘Mobile Legends’ scene

MANILA, Philippines – From young boys in their early teens and men in their mid-20’s and early 30’s to couples holding hands and mothers with their toddlers in tow, people from all walks of life gathered at the SM North EDSA Sky Dome last February 1 and 2 for Siklab Saya. 

Powered by Smart, the event is the biggest nationwide gathering for gamers and fans of the popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

Supporting esports

The highlight of Siklab Saya was the open tournament, where 64 teams competed for over P20 million worth of total prizes. 

For this particular run, the grand prize winner, Team “Trabaho,” took home a P1 million cash prize, while the second and third runner-ups took home P 500,000 and P 200,000, respectively.

Previously, in 2019, Siklab Saya held regional runs in Bacolod, Olongapo, and Tuguegarao. And earlier, last January 25 and 26, Siklab Saya held the first leg of its NCR with a two-day tournament at the SM Megatrade Hall. 

For that round, Team “Work” beat Team “Mahal Kita” to bag the tournament’s P1 million cash prize.

Activities for both fans and gamers

“Filipinos are one of the biggest supporters of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in the world. It did not surprise us that we have events like Smart’s Siklab Saya to recognize and celebrate esports athletes in the Philippines,” said Rick Tian, Marketing Manager of Moonton, the developer of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

True to the desire of holistically celebrating Mobile Legends, aside from the main tournament, fans and gamers got to enjoy various mini-events and activities at the Siklab Saya grounds.

Fans could win both physical (merchandise such as shirts and jackets) and in-game prizes (such as "skins" [character costumes for your character] and equipment) through trivia contests between battle rounds and by participating in Mobile Legends-themed activity booths such as a virtual-reality saber game called “Assassin Center” and a ball pit entitled “The Crawl.”

Cosplay was also a big part of Siklab Saya with celebrity cosplayer and actress Mrytle Sarrosa co-hosting the event’s first day and a cosplay contest with fans on the second day.

 COSPLAY COMPETITION. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

COSPLAY COMPETITION.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

 FREYA AND GRANGER. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

FREYA AND GRANGER.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Myrtle Sarrosa – best known as the “Cosplay Cutie of Iloilo” who won Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition 4 – has been an active member of both the Philippine cosplay and gaming scene for years now. Having started cosplaying at the age of 14 (she’s 25 now), she was very much happy to share her excitement about how fast and big the esports community has grown throughout the years.

 MYRTLE SARROSA. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MYRTLE SARROSA.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

“Back then, there weren’t that many gaming events and tournaments. And those that did exist, they didn’t have huge cash prizes,” Myrtle said. “Today, just to know that 64 non-professional teams are competing [in Siklab Saya], I’m just happy to see that there are now people willing and open to join us in the fun.” 

The cosplayer emphasized that an event like Siklab Saya is opening doors and introducing opportunities, not only for professionals in the industry but also for casual gamers.

esports celebrities

Aside from Myrtle, the Philippines’ top esports athletes and game streamers also attended Siklab Saya and even held a “meet, greet, and compete.”

Akosi Dogie, Chixmiss, Fhrea Jaimil, and Inzaiplays took on an exhibition match where the esports celebs were split off and grouped with fans. Akosi Dogie and Fhrea Jaimil lead “Team Dogie” while Chixmiss and Inzaiplays lead “Team Chix.”

THE COUNTRY'S TOP GAMERS. (L-R) Fhrea Jaimil, Chixmiss, Inzaiplays, and Akosi Dogie. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

THE COUNTRY'S TOP GAMERS. (L-R) Fhrea Jaimil, Chixmiss, Inzaiplays, and Akosi Dogie.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Fans cheered on as the players took their positions on-stage, calling their favorite celeb to swing their signature catchphrases on the mic.

Akosi Dogie – with over 3 million subscribers each on Youtube and Facebook – in a conversation backstage, expressed how surreal the whole experience still is. “Three years in, and I still can’t believe this is what I do for a living every day,” he said in Filipino.

Now, as he serves as a scout and mentor for potential esports athletes, Akosi Dogie only sees good things in store for the future of esports in the Philippines. 

“[Those in my boot camp], they practice like 8 hours a day. They eat 3 meals, 5 if there are snacks. I provide for them as much as I could because I believe in their bright futures. I don’t even ask those in school to stop going, because I believe they can do everything,” Dogie emphasized.

Team “Trabaho”

Team “Trabaho” shares this positivity with Akosi Dogie.

Having won the P1 million grand prize, they say esports is no longer just a hobby people can do for fun. It has become a job and an industry that young people can make a living out of if they set their mind into it just like any other kind of mainstream sport.

MOMENTS BEFORE VICTORY. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MOMENTS BEFORE VICTORY.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

When asked what they are thankful for, Juan Benoza, who plays under the name Gagambang_Bahay, in Filipino, said, “Companies such as Smart are such a huge help. We used to join their small contests, those with P 5,000 and P10,000 prizes. That’s where we started, and they served as the training ground for aspiring esports athletes. 

We’re very thankful for the kind of support events such as Siklab Saya has given us.” - Rappler.com