SIBOL coach eyes podium finish in all SEAG events

Michelle Lojo - Philstar.com
SIBOL coach eyes podium finish in all SEAG events
Ralph Andrei "Leathergoods" Llabres

MANILA, Philippines — SIBOL's overall head coach Ralph Andrei "Leathergoods" Llabres believes that the country's national esports team will end the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia with all events in the esports category having podium finishes.

"Our athletes have evolved through the years, most definitely 'yung game sense natin, 'yung strength ng athletes natin in esports, mas lumalakas tayo. I’m really expecting better results this year. Last year, we hit our 70% [goal] na makakakuha ng medal. I think for this year, I’ll be bold in saying around 80-90% na makakakuha tayo ng medals," said Llabres during the Sibol's 2023 campaign kick-off press conference at Mandaluyong City last Thursday.

During the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, SIBOL finished the esports category in third place overall with four medals, two golds, two silvers, behind host country Vietnam and Indonesia. 

In the coming SEA Games, SIBOL will be sending teams to all seven events, with the hopes of defending their gold in the the Mobile Legends - Men event and improve on their runner-up finishes in League of Legends and Crossfire events.

Philippine Esports Organization (PeSO) Executive Director Marlon "Lon" Marcelo, though initially quipping "No pressure" to Llabres' statement, echoed the head coach's sentiment.

"I think we have a very good chance. Most probably, kaya natin manalo ng gold sa League of Legends, Mobile Legends and wildcard for me is Valorant. We are a country that excels in those titles. No pressure, kayang manalo," said Marcelo.

Another event in contention would be, according to Llabres, Crossfire as the team had more time to prepare for this year's games compared to last year. SIBOL general manager Leo Jab Escutin, meanwhile, had previously spoken on PUBG Mobile being a title they have a very good medal chance in given the team's performance from last year's games.

After the SEA Games, SIBOL will have three other international conferences in the pipelines. 

In August, SIBOL will be competing in the World Esports Championship in Romania while the following month will see the 19th Asian Games in China wherein esports will feature as a medal event for the first time. 

The last tournament for the year for SIBOL is the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in November in Bangkok, where esports will also be making its debut.

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