From dominating the battlegrounds to shattering barriers, dive deep into the stories of these game-changers.
While the Philippines has flexed its athletic muscles in traditional sports—think basketball, boxing, billiards, and a splash of swimming—a new narrative is silently unfurling in the digital sphere. Beyond the cheers for conventional sports, it’s time to spotlight the Philippines as a force in esports, clinching championships and dominating the fiercest battlegrounds of Southeast Asia—now, worldwide.
As we venture into the high-voltage world of esports, where strategy and specialized skills reign supreme, we encounter four Filipinas who transcend the confines of being mere pro players. They are more than competitors; they are architects of change, forging a path where women become your next MVPs in what was once another male-dominated arena.
Meet the Team
Team SMG, flexing with their trio of Valorant pro players – Alexandria ‘Alexy’ Francisco, Camille ‘Kamiyu’ Enriquez, and Kelly ‘Shirazi’ Jaudian – totally smashed the Valorant scene in the Asia-Pacific region. Last year, they secured a solid fourth place in the Valorant Game Changers World Championship in Brazil, leaving the country and entire esports community shaking in the best way possible.
But wait, the saga doesn’t end there. Alexandria, Camille, and Kelly, teaming up with the powerhouses Odella ‘enerii’ Abraham and Abigail ‘Kohaibi’ Kong, went on a winning streak of 35 consecutive victories during the Game Changers championship, which is Valorant’s new initiative within its main VCT tournament aimed at providing a platform for women. Yeah, you read that right—35 in a row. Talk about an era of female domination in esports!
They spilled the tea on their daily lives as pro players, shared their thoughts on inclusivity in the gaming world, and didn’t hold back on expressing their views on esports as an athletic profession. Scroll through their stories as they take charge in this revolution.
E-Sports in the Philippines
Esports in the Philippines has skyrocketed in popularity, emerging as a powerhouse in the global gaming community. With a fervent fan base and a pool of exceptionally talented players, spanning from Valorant to Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, we’re currently standing as one of the strongest countries in the digital sphere.
How do you feel knowing that the Philippines is one of the strongest countries when it comes to esports?
Alexy: I think it’s in the genes of Filipinos. If you ponder it, generally, we are naturally competitive—ayaw natin nagpapatalo.
Kamiyu: Filipino pride, bro!
How has the perception of esports changed over the years, and what do you envision for its ongoing evolution in the future?
Looking back, my parents were conservative about the “sports.” It’s kind of sad, but they never supported me until I qualified for the international tournament in Brazil. Now, I believe it’s evolving as I’ve noticed more parents are supporting their children’s careers as esports players. So far, I think it’s heading down in a good direction.
Gaming as a Profession
Despite what was said, there remains a serious side-eye, especially among Asian parents, regarding gaming as a legitimate gig. Smashing through these doubts, professional players are shattering stereotypes with worldwide tournaments that come with sponsorships, cash compensation, and a sustainable salary within their teams and agencies.
Not to mention, compared to traditional occupations, esports athletes also spend hours practicing, follow daily routines, and require a dash of discipline to maintain their careers.
What would you say to people who consider gaming a waste of time?
Kamiyu: I don’t think it’s a waste of time. It has opened up opportunities like traveling outside the country, earning your own money, and streaming!
What is it like being an esports athlete? Or, can you describe the daily routine of an esports athlete?
enerii: Personally, I had to sacrifice a lot of things. As a professional player, I practiced 8-10 hours a day. In addition to that, there were solo grinding sessions and outside-of-work commitments. So far, working hard and managing time have been really important.
Experiences of Empowerment and Representation
Female representation in the gaming community has taken center stage, shining a spotlight on inclusivity. In what was once a total bro-zone, we often overlook that esports has evolved into one of the most welcoming industries. Here, everyone—regardless of age, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or ability—gets a shot at the game, making it one of the safest spaces out there.
Can you share experiences of empowerment and support within the all-female esports community?
Alexy: My experience in the Valorant Tournament in Brazil was filled with a lot of people cheering for us. It was one of those moments when we felt empowered.
What initiatives or changes do you think could enhance inclusivity for women in esports?
enerii: The best initiative is when you’re in a server, and you don’t see others based on their gender or race—you simply see them as the players they are. That’s what Valorant developers and gamers should work on.
How important is representation for aspiring female gamers, and how do you contribute to that cause in your role?
enerii: Recognizing representation’s significance hits close to home. In my childhood, the lack of diverse players was disheartening. Thankfully, times have changed, and there are more female pro players emerging. Now, I’m dedicated to empowering women, sending the message that says, ‘You can be here too.’
What’s your message for any aspiring gamers?
Alexy: Choose your circle wisely. Pick teammates who have a good attitude and a positive mindset.