The Nationals — the first-ever franchise-based esports league in the Philippines — is set to kick off its inaugural season on March 24, featuring five teams competing in three different esports titles.

The Nationals will feature three of the biggest games in the Philippines for its first season: Dota 2 on PC, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on Mobile, and Tekken 7 on PS4. Each title will have two conferences in the first season, with each featuring a double round-robin group stage and single-elimination playoffs. The winners and the top teams in each conference will advance to a season finale later on in the year.

Bren Epro, Cignal Ultra, HF Emperors, PLDT-Smart Omega, and Suha-XCTN Punishers are the first set of franchises that will be participating in the league.

The Nationals Commissioner Ren Vitug is optimistic that the league will be able to provide a platform where the talents of aspiring esports athletes can be nurtured.

“I have witnessed many athletes gleaming with skill and potential drop out of the scene because the infrastructure was not there to support them. There are so many external factors that prevent them from being the best that they can be,” said Vitug in a statement.

Aside from being equipped with an adequate training facility, the league has mandated that its players must also be serviced by a support group vital to their development as athletes. All team personnel for participating franchises are required to have managers, coaches, fitness trainers, nutritionists, and counselors, among others.

The league believes that such measures are necessary for esports athletes due to the demanding nature of the sport, and in order to conform to international standards as well.

“A lot of people think that being an esports athlete is easy, but players train as long and as hard as athletes would in traditional sports. It is highly competitive, and the dynamics are usually very unstable and ever-changing,” Vitug said.