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The Nationals is first esports franchise league in PH

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Philippines to get first esports league (2:20)

The Nationals, the first esports league in the Philippines, is set to launch in 2019. (2:20)

Philippine gaming reaches another milestone as The Nationals -- the first-ever esports franchise model league in the country -- is set to launch in the first quarter of next year.

The Nationals will feature a traditional league format where franchise teams compete in four game titles that cater to different gaming communities (PC gaming, mobile gaming, console gaming, and a wildcard game). This league also aims to be the main pool for national esports athletes who will compete in tournaments sanctioned by the SEA Games, Asian Games and the Olympics.

There are currently six corporate partners that are committed to the founding members of The Nationals. Industry mainstays TNC Pro Team, HappyFeet Esports, and BrenPro Inc., along with Cignal TV Inc., PLDT and Smart Communications, and newcomer STI Education Systems are the first six organizations committed to build the teams and the ecosystem around The Nationals.

Gariath Concepts, the organization behind ESGS (Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit), will be tapped to handle the tournament operations and logistical concerns of The Nationals.

The Nationals will also be broadcast live on ESPN5.

"Esports has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years in both audience and home-grown talent. Our goal has always been to elevate the sport by giving it a platform to reach a wider audience," said Vincent P. Reyes, President and CEO of TV5. "We have been pioneers in putting up esports tournaments on free TV, so it makes perfect sense for us to air the first ever franchise-based league in the Philippines."

"Cignal has always believed in giving the Filipino viewer what it wants, whether it's a new movie channel, the best sports events or a more immersive news program. Cignal's move into esports is motivated by the same passion to give people what they've been clamoring for," said Jane Basas, CEO of Cignal TV Inc. "And more than that, we want to take our position and help elevate the play and broadcast of esports to new heights in the country."

To kick-off The Nationals, and as a way to find talent and players for the new teams for 2019, PLDT Home and Smart Communications are launching The Road to The Nationals in August. The Road to The Nationals is a stand-alone multi-game title grassroots tournament, and will be played across 10 locations all over the Philippines. Games featured will be similar to what will be featured in The Nationals - with representation for PC gamers, mobile gamers, and console gamers.

After elimination matches to be held from August to October, the final 8 teams for the different titles will battle it out at ESGS (Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit) 2018, to be held this October 26-28, 2018 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

While generally seen as a niche, the gaming market in the Philippines is continuously growing, with around 32 million Filipinos being classified as gamers, according to Newzoo Insights.