THE PBA formally ventures into the world of electronic sports, collaborating with Dark League Studios in launching the Esports Bakbakan set for a grand kickoff in March of this year.
The inaugural meet will have the 12 franchises of Asia's oldest pro league each represented in the Mobile Legends: Bang (MLBB) online gaming to be played in Season 1.
Eight players make up each team consisting of two PBA players, two gaming influencers, a student from 12 chosen universities, and three fans from each 12 ballclubs, namely Barangay Ginebra, TNT, San Miguel, Magnolia, Meralco, NLEX, Rain or Shine, Blackwater, Phoenix, Terrafirma, Converge, and NorthPort.
A drafting system will be held on February 13 to determine the influencers and the rest of the members who are going to join the PBA players in each team.
"With the history of the PBA as sports entertainment, combined with the growing influence in modern technology, I think this is a win-win situation for both parties, the PBA and Dark League. Ngayon pa lang nagpapasalamat na kami sa Dark League for its collaboration with the PBA," said commissioner Willie Marcial, who was present during the official launching of the tournament on Tuesday at the Dark League Studios in Libis.
Joining Marcial during the press launch were Dark League Studios CEO AC Valdenor, PBA marketing director Jo Francisco, Dark League Studios Chief Revenue Officer Cherry Valdenor, program director Mark Chua, and Dark League Studios head of operations Carlo Giron.
"It's an eye opener for all the Filipinos. For the longest time, there's really been a separation between the community of traditional sports and Esports. We do it not just to bridge the gap, but to create aspirations for the next generation," said Valdenor.
Also lending their presence were PBA governors Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra and Board vice chairman Bobby Rosales.
A number of influencers led by Eric 'Eruption' Tai, Raven 'L3bron' Alonzo, and recent PBA finals visitor Setsuna 'Akosi Dogie' Ignacio were also around during the launch as they look forward at competing against each other.
Around 4,000 aspirants applied for possible slots within the teams involved, although the numbers have since been trimmed to a pool of 70 who are all going through the draft.
The 12 teams will play in a single round robin format, with the Top 4 advancing in a best-of-five playoffs, which could either be held at the Mall of Asia Arena or the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Games will be played every Monday for five weeks and are going to be livestreamed in the league's official accounts.
A prize money of P1 million is at stake, with the champion team receiving P750,000. (RG)