2019 is a big year for esports in the Philippines, and that’s not just because it’s a medal sport at this year’s SEA Games. The Nationals, the country’s first franchise-based esports league, will start later this month, and it will bring exciting esports action across three titles.

Now if you missed out on the news and have no idea what The Nationals is about, then don’t worry, there’s still some time to get you up to speed. So here’s everything you need to know about The Nationals, and why you should be excited!

What exactly is The Nationals?

As mentioned, The Nationals is the Philippines’ first franchise-based esports league. What’s so special about that? Well, it means that The Nationals will function much like a standard sports league; think the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) or the Overwatch League (if you’re into esports). Thanks to this system, the league’s games will be on a regular schedule instead of having tons of games packed into just a week or two. The regularity of games and matches means that storylines and/or rivalries between players and teams can develop more naturally, leading to even more exciting matches.

Another perk of having a franchise system is that players will have regular salaries and benefits. Because of this, players won’t have to worry about job security while participating, which means they can focus on delivering even better esports action.

What teams will participate?

Right now, six teams have been confirmed to participate in The Nationals, with all but one of them playing when the league starts later this month. The six teams are:

  • Bren Epro
  • Cignal Ultra
  • HF Emperors
  • PLDT-Smart Omega
  • Suha-XCTN Punishers
  • Team STI (will participate starting this June)

All six teams will have representatives for the Nationals’ three games. The six teams will also be divided into two conferences; each conference will feature a double round-robin group stage followed by a single-elimination playoff stage. The top performers of each conference will then move on to the Nationals’ season finale later this year.

Which games will be played?

The three titles that’ll be played in the Nationals are Dota 2, Mobile Legends, and Tekken 7. The games were selected so each esports platform is represented; the platforms being PC, Mobile, and Console.

While these three games will be part of the Nationals, each game’s regular season leg won’t all be played simultaneously. The Dota 2 league will take place first, followed by Tekken 7 and Mobile Legends.

Great, so when does it start?

So The Nationals will start this March 24 with the Dota 2 leg happening first. The Dota regular season will end May, just in time for Tekken 7 to start in June until October. As for Mobile Legends, the mobile leg starts in July and will end in October as well. As for the Grand Finals, the schedule will be announced at a later date.

The Nationals’ inaugural season may be starting this month, but before this season, the Road to the Nationals took place last year from August until October. The Road to the Nationals served as a feeder league for the season proper; it enabled aspiring esports players and teams to showcase their skills so they could get a shot at being drafted by the Nationals’ six teams.

Where will The Nationals air?

The Nationals will air on multiple platforms, both online and on TV. Online, you can catch the Nationals’ games live on the league’s official Facebook page. As for TV, you’ll be able to watch the league at ESPN5 through 5Plus as well as on Cignal TV through eGG Network and One Sports.