Esports included as official medal sport in SEA Games for first time

The full-fledged inclusion of competitive video gaming as a medal sport when the South East Asian (SEA) Games comes to the Philippines next year is finally official.

The announcement was made by Foreign Affairs Secretary and Philippines South East Asian Games Organizing Committee (PhilSGOC) Chairman Emeritus Alan Peter Cayetano during a press conference on Wednesday in Pasay City.

"We are very thrilled, excited, and honored to have esports in the SEA Games with Razer as a partner," said Cayetano. "Gamers are an important part of our community."

The PhilSGOC and Philippine Olympic Committee partnered with gaming hardware company Razer, which will support the final crop of Filipino esports athletes, to elevate esports to a recognized medal sport at the regional biennial event.

"This will bring aspiring esports athletes in Southeast Asia to the global stage," said Limeng Lee, Chief Strategy Officer of Razer.

Esports in the SEA Games is accredited by the Asian Electronic Sports Federation.

There will be six gold medals awarded for three gaming platforms -- two for console, two for PC and two for mobile. Qualifying tournaments will be held for the different titles.

As of posting, only Mobile Legends: Bang Bang -- a multiplayer online battle arena game -- has been confirmed as one of the games that will be contested. The other titles are expected to be finalized by December 15.

According to Cayetano, TV5 is undergoing a process to gain the broadcast rights for the SEA Games.

"TV5 will definitely play a big role in the SEA Games for 2019, " he said.

TV5 President and CEO Vincent "Chot" Reyes added that the network will continue to extend support to esports.

"We have supported esports for a while now. We broadcasted the League of Legends World Championship on TV5 as early as 2015," said Reyes.

Esports was also included in the 2018 Asian Games but only as a demo sport.

Information from ESPN5's Ralph Aligada was used in this report.