RSG, the Singapore-based Southeast Asian professional esports organization, is expanding to the Philippines esports scene as its latest overseas market. The early-stage initiatives were revealed at a press conference, including plans for developing teams and talents to grow the local talent pool and raising engagement of the community and improving fan experiences.
Immediate plans will include training and development of the first RSG PH professional esports team, debuting in the upcoming national-level Mobile Legends Professional League Philippines Season 8. RSG will also be developing engagement initiatives for more meaningful connections with fans and the local community.
Later plans will be to expand competitive capabilities into other game titles across console, PC and mobile platforms, supporting local content creators and talent, and long-term collaborations to raise mass awareness and interest in esports.
Founded in 2017, RSG operates across Southeast Asia to engage the gaming audience through esports teams and content creators. RSG’s teams have participated in over 200 tournaments collectively in a wide swathe of games, such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, PUBG Mobile, Capp of Duty, and Warcraft. Building on its presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, RSG will continue its growth strategy through regional expansion efforts into key Southeast Asian markets. There will also be plans to compete in more games and reach 150 million gaming audience in Southeast Asia by end 2021.
“With the second largest population in Southeast Asia, Philippines has a highly enthusiastic esports community that has grown rapidly in recent years. As the esports scene gathers momentum in the region, RSG is proud to be one of the first few regional esports organizations to expand our presence and support the development of the local esports industry. We hope to bring to the fans here our experience in developing esports champions, drive innovation in the way we create and engage fans, and last but not least, the trademark RSG spirit of relentlessly pursuing excellence. We will be working together with stakeholders and fans to educate the masses about esports, and contribute to a more robust ecosystem as we aspire to be the leading esports organization here.”
Jayf Soh, Founder and CEO of RSG
The Philippines’ game market is one of the leading ones in Southeast Asia with rapid growth. Market research firm Newzoo puts Philippines at 25th place worldwide in terms of game revenue, spending US$572 million by 43 million gamers in 2019. Dataportal’s Digital 2021 report saw a 4.2 million (6.1%) increase in internet user numbers between 2020 and 2021, at 73.91 million. 72.1% of them, aged 16 to 64, use game apps each month with MLBB being the top-ranked by monthly active users in 2020.
RSG Philippines MLBB to compete with the nation’s best esports team
The first local chapter of RSG PH’s MLBB professional team will be at Mobile Legends Professional League Philippines Season 8 with an exclusive slot in the franchise-based league. With both experienced and up-and-coming players, this marks RSG PH’s commitment to provide more sustainable career paths for players and staff alike in its goal to raise industry standards.
MPL Philippines Season 7 saw over 33 million total watch hours with 1.4 million peak live viewers. Team Captain Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa will be leading the team in Season 8 with the guidance of Coach Brian “Panda” Lim, who himself took the Philippines to a Gold Medal win at the 30th SEA Games. Joining them is Elyson Edouard “GHOST Wrecker” Caranza, one of the country’s most popular streamers now turned player, known for his massive social media fan base with 7.7 million followers and his philanthropy.
The team line-up is rounded up by:
- Arvie “Aqua” Calderon
- Dexter “Exort” Martinez
- Earvin John “Heath” Esperanza
- Eman “Emann” Sangco
- Joshwell Christian “Iy4knu” Manaog
- Jonard Cedrix “Demonkite” Caranto
- Nathanael “Nathzz” Estrologo
Country Manager, Richardson “RJ” Jacinto, will helm RSG PH. He is a veteran with more than 10 years industry experience in esports and has been in key positions in various other esports organizations and related companies prior to joining RSG. Being highly attuned to the Filipino esports community’s needs, he’ll be utilizing his expertise in business development, marketing, and project management to develop and nurture young local talent alongside initiatives to grow the local esports industry.
Most esports fans by now are more than likely familiar with the sheer passion of Filipino fans, and it’s certainly no different here. The following has been edited for clarity.
For Wrecker, are you still open for collaboration with other players?
Wrecker: Collaborating is an open door for me; it’s not new to us. As content creators, we always collaborate with each other and anyone who could be an asset to us. As long as I have the time to do so, it’s no problem. OhMyV33nus invited me to join Blacklist but I already signed with RSG. Still, I told him I could collaborate with him.
How did you create your roster of players? How did you decide to include Ghost Wrecker and the other members to join the RSG PH team?
RJ: (sic) get the best coach out there, and we got Panda. We talked about what’s the best strategy here, and we already saw some upcoming amateur players ready to be part of a professional team. Of course, we can’t bring amateurs only into a professional league, so we look for the people we think have the best attitude and vision that coincides with RSG’s; so we got veterans like Kenji and other key players to guide the amateurs. We’ve actually been talking about Wrecker for quite some time.
The idea came from when I was watching the Harlem Globetrotters… it just connected and the right timing we were in talks with Wrecker. I asked if he was interested to join the roster, he said yes when he saw RSG’s vision and the rest is history.
Was RSG the only option you had, or were there other teams who tried to get you or other teams you’d like to be with?
Wrecker: I mentioned Blacklist earlier. If I were to choose way before, it’d be with Bren Esports because I saw their discipline and eagerness to win the championships. I was born ready to fight and I saw it with them.
Since you’ll be a pro player next season, what about your content creation, since you’ll be practicing with the team?
Wrecker: I spoke to the management that I’m not 100% sure about giving all my time and effort to the RSG team as a pro player. Let’s be realistic here, I’m a content creator and have been for almost 3 years. I can’t imagine not having time to do my thing. I did promise to RSG that I will never waste this opportunity, so it’s a matter of time management. What I can see is 50% time for streaming, and 50% for practice and molding the other players. I’m one of the eldest in the team, and that’s what I do in esports.
With RSG being one of the biggest organizations in SEA, did you have any reservations when they approached you, or were you open to the idea and went with it?
Wrecker: I was very open to the idea as it’s one of my dreams. When RJ spoke to me, asking me to join RSG, becoming a pro player, I had no second thoughts and said yes. It’s my dream, so why not grab it?
Does RSG have its official bootcamp?
RJ: Yes, we have one right now. Our bootcamps are in Ortigas, that’s why our office is there at Pasig.
Other than MPL and games you’ve mentioned, are you also open to other games e.g. Valorant and such?
RJ: We’re very open to venturing to other gaming titles. It’s a matter of timing and opportunity to enter those markets. We want to take it one step at a time.
What words of encouragement can you give to content creators like yourself who want to go pro? What do you want to achieve as part of RSG?
Wrecker: To other content creators, I believe it’s to practice and practice. In the Philippines, they will support you if you’re doing well. If you’re not capable of giving them what they want, or meeting their “standards”, you will not be considered a pro player in their eyes. Before you decide to join tournaments, especially MPL, you really need to practice, never give up, get ideas from other people. We all know learning never stops, and we need that.
As for what I want to achieve as part of RSG, I want to scout players who aren’t given enough attention. There are a lot of players in the Philippines with so much skill, wisdom and commitment, but they are not being recognized. I want to help them achieve their dreams in esports.
Other than his sphere of influence, what other qualities of Wrecker’s that made him enticing to add to the team as a professional player? With recent trends of having an analyst, do you have plans for one?
RJ: In Wrecker, we saw that he’s this big brother type veteran in esports. He’s a champion in ROS, the type of person who’s been there and we want that attitude from him to show the younger players. Skills can be trained, but not attitude.
As for an analyst, we’ll definitely be having one. Panda and I have been talking about this and we’re finding someone who will be the best fit for the system he wants to implement.
Plans to develop future talents in the country? Will you be fielding a team for the MLBB Development League?
Jayf: I think our plans on talent development is very broad-strokes; not just from the players’ side but also influencer and content creator angles. Overall, we just really want to empower aspirants to achieve their dreams and there are many ways to do this. The league is one such key opportunity, but the set up of opportunities is also important to do further player or talent scouting across the Philippines. The Philippines is not like Singapore; it’s a big place, so to set up opportunities, I think it will take a lot of groundwork. That will be one of our key focuses, to bring out more opportunities to people who may not be in Manila. That’s one of the key things we want to try for a start to find the gems within the Philippines market.
Wrecker, we’ve been following you on social media for the longest time. As a content creator, you are very candid, with the trashtalk and everything. Outside of that persona, you also do volunteer work like during Typhon Ulysses. What version of Wrecker should or can we expect in the coming MPL?
Wrecker: Honestly, outside of practice, you can see the usual Wrecker character. I think we all know that this character is far beyond my real self in front of the people around me. I think in the MPL scene, you can still see me as the Wrecker who goofs around – I can’t change that – and I’m sure everyone will agree the moment I remove “Wrecker” from the MPL scene, it’ll be boring.
Inside the RSG family, I show more of my other side: Elyson Caranza, the theater director, scriptwriter, workshop leader, which is my life before the esports scene, to mold others and give them wisdom. My students are wondering why I use profanities whenever they watch me, but I’m completely different in person. Just as I said, characterization is different especially in theater. That’s why I did the basics on streaming, because there, you show a different character to sell. I use my knowledge in theater to apply to streaming. Luckily, it’s effective.
Outside, I’m intact as Wrecker. In MPL and the RSG family, I will show Elyson. I want us to win, so I want to show my other side, as being a champion requires a lot of discipline and commitment.
Wrecker: Akosi Dogie. I also want to play with Evos. I can’t trashtalk right now, but to Dogie… that rivalry is real. Fate really conspires for us to be near each other and we cannot escape. Evos vs RSG vs Omega… these are the biggest names in MPL right now, so we’ll make a splash in the scene, I promise that.
Wrecker, could you give us a few strategies or how you plan to play with the team?
Wrecker: Thanks, but for now, we haven’t thought of what we’d do. We haven’t gotten the chance to meet up and get together, but once we do, we can make our plans. We gave each other the ultimatum of practicing 30 to 40 games which can be strenuous. Our gift to fans is that we will continue to enhance ourselves and not settle for less. We’ll study whatever the meta is and improve and chance. Of course, we aim to make a name for RSG in the Philippines. RSG is new here, why not hope to be MPL Season 8 champion?