Stuck at home, Pinoy MMA stars Joshua Pacio, Eduard Folayang turn to eSports for competition
Santino Honasan on May 29, 2020 02:21 PM
“It will become even bigger and bigger because it’s taking over all gadgets here in the Philippines. Before, you could only play games using computers or consoles like a PlayStation or an Xbox. Nowadays, you can play using just your phones,” - Joshua Pacio on eSports (Photo: ONE Championship)
With the COVID-19 pandemic still gripping the whole world, many events, including sports have been put on hold, postponed, or even cancelled.
Among those companies who have opted to shut things down for the time being is Asian martial arts promotion ONE Championship, postponing their events for April and May.
With no timetable yet as to when the company can go back to staging events, their athletes are left eagerly awaiting the time when they can once again return to competition.
Some athletes however, have turned to other forms of physically distant competition such as eSports.
Take for example reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio. The Team Lakay star is one of the most active competitors on the ONE roster, but since the pandemic, Pacio has been forced to quarantine at home.
Fortunately for the champ, he was able to pour his competitive drive into a different battlefield, so to speak.
“I can say that eSports is one of the biggest platforms today, and I’ve gotten addicted to it, especially since we’ve were under Enhanced Community Quarantine here in Baguio,” Pacio shared. “I’m playing Mobile Legends (ML) a lot.”
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is a widely popular online multiplayer game that can be enjoyed on one’s mobile phone.
The game’s ease of access, Pacio explains, is one of the reasons why he thinks the game is such a hit in the Philippines, and why eSports is on the rise.
“I think the popularity of esports has increased a lot because of Mobile Legends. A lot of people are into it.”
“It will become even bigger and bigger because it’s taking over all gadgets here in the Philippines. Before, you could only play games using computers or consoles like a PlayStation or an Xbox. Nowadays, you can play using just your phones,” Pacio added.
The ‘ML’ craze has also spreadt to other members of Team Lakay, said Pacio.
“Even kuya Eduard [Folayang] and kuya Kevin [Belingon] are playing as well. We enjoy it a lot because it’s not just a game, it’s a game where you need to use your brain. It’s like playing chess.”
For former two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, ML has become a go-to past time after training at home.
“I play Mobile Legends a lot, especially after I’m done with my home training,” he shared.
Much like actual fighting, Folayang explains that Mobile Legends also requires practice and the right gameplan.
“You need the preparation, you need to invest time to practice and get better in the game, you also have to learn how to strategize, and you also must have teamwork,” Folayang said.
Both Pacio and Folayang see the potential that eSports has, not just in the Philippines or in Asia, but in the whole world as well. That’s why they believe that ONE’s venture into eSports was indeed a winning move.
In 2019, ONE Championship launched ONE eSports, and has been widely successful since.
“It was definitely a smart move for ONE to venture into esports because, like I’ve said, a lot of people are into it all over the globe, and a lot of us athletes are also playing online games as well,” said Pacio.
“It’s a very smart move because, like us martial artists, gamers are also looking for a big platform to be able to showcase their skills, and ONE Esports gives them that opportunity,” Folayang added.