EXCLUSIVE: How Blacklist International Is Redefining The Esports Arena

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Blacklist International is just getting ready to lead the charge in the eSports arena—from redefining the status quo and breaking the stigma.

Filipinos have been known for being at the top of the sports arena on a global scale. We have the boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, SEA Games gold medalist in gymnastics Carlos Yulo, world champion pool player Efren “Bata” Reyes, and many, many more. With our pool of brilliant athletes, it is undeniable that the Philippines has a deep well of talent. Although this may be, there’s a new dawn of sport that’s on a global rise: Esports.

Scrolling through our social media timelines, it’s very evident how being a gamer has transitioned from being nerdy, into cool, to the new normal. According to Blacklist International, “it has become a source of entertainment for a lot of people especially now during the pandemic.” So, it served as our means of escape from the negative environment that is cloaking the entire world right now.

In addition to that, we’re also seeing more and more Filipinos who want to pursue a career in gaming, even celebrities such as Dominic Roque and Khalil Ramos have tried, too. Now, of course, jumpstarting your career in this competitive environment would also mean passing through the eye of a needle regardless of who you are. It will seriously require discipline and habits to win games. And this is why Tier One Entertainment created Blacklist International.

L-R: Oheb is wearing a leather hooded jacket by BERSHKA; Bon is holding a leather jacket by THE SM STORE; OhMyV33nus is wearing leather patent jacket by KYLE CRUZ; Dex is wearing a sculptured leather jacket by KYLE CRUZ; Wise is wearing a leather jacket by H&M; Eson is wearing a nylon jacket by THE SM STORE; and Edward is wearing a leather shearling jacket by BERSHKA.

“Tier One’s mission has always been to open up opportunities for gamers and the main purpose of why we created Blacklist International is for us to be able to provide an opportunity for pro-players to compete on the global stage,” the management explains. “It will be a great honor to represent the country especially because the recent world champion is from the Philippines which is a testament to the intense competition in the country.”

One of Its newest members of the team, Jonmar “OhMyV33nus” Villaluna, even shared “I started pursuing being a gamer as my career when I played MOBA games. People around me always told me, ‘magaling ka talaga kahit ano game laruin,’ which I never believed. But as time goes by, competitiveness in MOBAs is super lumalaki na, wherein we have weekly tournaments. And I usually win first place in the tournaments I joined before and dun nag start na maging pangarap ko ang kumita sa passion ko, which is gaming.”

Reversing The Stigma

The turning point for esports really came in 2016 when a Philippine team beat out a major team at The International Dota 2 Championships in the US. Ever since then, playing games was deemed not just a pastime for Pinoy; rather it’s serious competitive sports. In fact, when the COVID-19 broke out on a global scale forcing everyone to stay at home, prestigious universities such as De La Salle University offered Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) such as Mobile Legends as part of its curriculum under Physical Education.

Now, while we’re still hearing negative remarks from the older generation, they’re slowly and surely seeing that the times have truly changed. The world of esports in the local scene is “brighter than ever especially with mobile becoming more and more of the platform for new esports titles. PC and Console are always going to be there but I feel like mobile esports has grown the audience exponentially,” the brand says.

And this brings us to why Tier One Entertainment has used the term “Blacklist” for the name. “Outside of the word having the word Black which is well associated with our company, we believe that blacklist reminds us of the times when the best characters of a certain game get banned because they are overpowered. While the word blacklist sounds negative initially, when you learn about it and understand [the root of it all], your perception towards it will then eventually turn to positive,” they explain.

So, to be blacklisted means that you are good enough and empowered to pursue whatever you want—you have the power to break the barriers. “This is the same thing that we want to happen with gaming and its negative stigma in our society,” Tier One adds.

Gaming Knows No Genders

In MEGAStyle’s January 2021 cover, we put Christine Samson front and center showcasing how women such as herself are shifting the tides of gaming to them, too. So even if the world of gaming was deemed for the boys when it was initially introduced in the 2000s, it’s refreshing to witness today’s society balancing the scales of equality.

Blacklist International’s OhMyV33nus shares, “I think nabuo ‘yung stereotype na ‘yan sa culture natin, kasi sa childhood days natin, usually‘ yung magkakabarkada ay lahat lalaki and then they mostly play video games as a form of bonding, so sila-sila rin ‘yung nagtutulungan magpalakas sa isang game.”

Blacklist International esports
OhMyV33nus is wearing a black patent leather jacket by KYLE CRUZ paired with a black trousers from THE SM STORE.

“But hello, 2021 na, kailangan na natin mag-grow and build ng community of gamers na welcome lahat ng gender magtulungan na magpalakas sa isang game,” he adds. “Sa esports, ‘yung skills na needed para lumakas ay wala naman kinalaman ‘yung pagiging man or woman or part of LGBTQ+ kasi lahat tayo may capability of critical thinking which is crucial sa gameplay.”

Being the current captain of the team, he urges everyone to just simply put an end to categorizing. “Let’s avoid labeling. Gamers are gamers. Not gaymers, not girl gamers, or etc. Sa pag-categorize kasi natin mismo ng tao, dun pa lang nagkakaroon na ng discrimination eh. Anyone can be a gamer.”

Indeed, there’s a truth in what OhMyV33nus says. Because in the long run, what matters is how you play and why you play. Gaming knows no gender. And hopefully, as the gaming community starts to slowly and surely progress over the years, with Blacklist International doing its part to promote a healthy environment for everyone, the future of the local esports arena is without a doubt beyond our wildest dreams. Echoing what OhMyV33nus said, “Hello, 2021 na.”


Photography FLOYD JHOCSON
Creative Direction JEB FRONDA
Art Direction JANN PASCUA
Styling DANIEL REYES
Grooming JA FELICIANO
Hair ARJAY ZURITA JR.
Special Thanks to TRYKE GUTIERREZ and KEN MATSUMOTO