ESL One Manila 2016 Makes History as Southeast Asia’s First Premium Dota 2 Tournament


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0001


In terms of scale and spectacle, ESL One Manila was easily the biggest eSports event to date in the SEA region, let alone in the Philippines.  The Filipinos have had a long and active history in gaming and have had many events held in the country, but the sheer size and excitement that ESL One brought to the Philippines this April was just simply mind-blowing and off the scale.  The MOA Arena was a fitting venue for the much anticipated two-day event, with more than 6,000 enthusiasts gathering from all over for this rare opportunity with ESL One’s first venture into the SEA region.


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0003

The burgeoning eSports communities of the Philippines as well as of the SEA region got a big boost from ESL, as the region got to have the spotlight, featuring some of the great teams from the region, with a huge fan base backing them up.  Eight teams got to to compete that weekend, 5 through qualifiers and 3 by direct invites.  They got to represent the best that the world had to offer, and in Manila they battled out for a prize pot of 250,000, making it the biggest prize ever offered for an eSport event in the country.


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0006


The Filipino fans and attendees were enthusiastic and appreciative all throughout, with the tickets for ESL One Manila easily selling out the day they were put on sale way back December 8.  The Philippines has one of the biggest and most active gaming communities in the world, and everyone was grateful that ESL One got to recognize the energy and enthusiasm the local eSports community has been demonstrating here and abroad.


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0024


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0043


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0127


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0005


A number of the best shoutcasters in the world were flown in for the event, and they were both adept and amusing as they called the action and analyzed the matches for everyone in attendance.  Each had their own style in carrying out their duties but all of them were popular with and loved by the local crowd.  Some of them like Winter, Slacks, Tobi and Maelk even got to participate in a wildly engaging Macho Man Look Contest on the second day.


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0007


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0010


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0078


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0082


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0100


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0133


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0134


Outside the event area, booths by sponsors and exhibitors were on hand to promote their services and products as well as provided attractions to attendees.  Cosplaying got to play a part in ESL One Manila, and we will have a separate article for that very soon.


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0008


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0067


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0071


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0048


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0030


The highlight of ESL One Manila was of course the matches between the eight teams who have earned their right to do battle live at the grand stage in front of the 6,000 attendees at the Mall of Asia Arena besides the millions watching all over the world through livestream.  Five teams topped their respective national or regional qualifiers: Team Empire from EU, compLexity from North America, Fnatic from South East Asia, Wings Gaming from China, and Mineski from the Philippines.  Three teams got direct invites based on their performances: EHOME from China, and Team Liquid and Team Secret, both from Europe.  Divided into Group A and Group B with four teams in each, the competitors battled it out with each other through a double elimination system in the GSL format, with the top performers in each group advancing to the finals.


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0035


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0041


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0045


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0059


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0105


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0109


Grueling matches ensued throughout the weekend as each team battled for survival—each unit giving their all to win each and every game.  Some teams got to flawlessly carry out their game plans, while others saw their hopes crushed despite even near-perfect games.  When the dust from the group stage cleared, its was Europe’s powerhouse Team Liquid and Chinese underdog Wings Gaming who were left to face off for the championship.  What would have been written off by many as an easy win for Team Liquid, Wings Gaming got to shock everyone with a strong showing since the start, eventually sweeping Team Liquid in the finals 3-0.  As the confetti fell from the rafters, the entire arena got to applaud the champions of the first ESL Manila.


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0114


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0115


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0117


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0119


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0125


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0120


All in all it was an amazing weekend for eSports for the Philippines and for the region as ESL One Manila 2016 concluded without much of a hitch, erasing all doubt whether an event of such scale could be done in the country.  Everyone who got to be there got to appreciate all the effort ESL and their partners put into making this two-day eSports extravaganza a successful one.  Filipinos and everyone else around the world who got to see and experience ESL One Manila had no room to doubt that history has been made, and that Southeast Asia’s first premium Dota 2 tournament will be an event they won’t soon forget.


ESL One Manila 2016 Event_0025


Many thanks to ESL One bringing this amazing event to Manila and for letting us be a witness to it as pat of the accredited media.  We hope they bring more such events in the future.

Stay tuned for our next feature about the role cosplay had at ESL One Manila.  Thank you for dropping by, and do visit us again for more features here at

Please click on an image to view slideshow.



Xtian Mack

Xtian Mack

Xtian Mack took up AB English Studies, Major in Creative Writing at UP Diliman. Currently works for a medical transcription company. He is the Creative Director of The Cosplay Cafe:, doing photography, writing, and reporting for the website. His line of photography specializes in cosplay event coverage, having covered 300 events in a span of 3 years. Loves cute and furry things.