The Renejay appeal: Why this esports star is one of the most powerful social media influencers today 2
Renejay says his main goal right now is winning the world championships. Photo courtesy of NXP EVOS Esports Management
Culture

The Renejay appeal: Why this esports star is one of the most powerful social media influencers today

In the last two years, Barcarse has amassed 4.8 million followers on Facebook, 4.8 million followers on TikTok, and 1.85 million subscribers on YouTube.    
RHIA GRANA | Jul 03 2021

How much can your life change in two years? If you’re 18-year-old esports player Renejay Barcarse, you can turn your life around and achieve a lot in such a short a time.

Renejay (that’s also his ‘in game name’), Nexplay Esports’ Gold Laner, is not only one of the fastest-rising esports athletes in the country. He is also a popular streamer and content creator, a sought-after influencer, an aspiring singer and composer, and a promising entrepreneur.

The Renejay appeal: Why this esports star is one of the most powerful social media influencers today 3
“Gusto ko laging tournament ang nilalabanan ko kasi walang hindi magseseryoso dun. Seryoso ang kalaban at kakampi,” says Renejay. Photo by Tammy David

His social media stats show just how much this kid has achieved in the last couple of years: 4.8 million followers on Facebook, 4.8 million followers with 99.9 million likes on TikTok, 1.85 million subscribers on YouTube, and 1.1 million followers on Instagram. Legions follow and share his game livestreams. His merch gets sold out in a snap. He doesn’t exactly dance like a pro but his “Baka Renejay To” dance step had gone viral, spurring its own song and a deluge of fun memes.

We asked a few Mobile Legends (ML) fans what’s so special about this young man and here’s what they say: “Super galing na ML player and madiskarte!” says one. “Hindi mayabang at marunong makisama at tumanaw ng utang na loob,” says another. “Simple lang pero ang dami na nya na-achieve at humble pa rin,” another fan offers.

Mobile games fans are polarized by this formerly bleached blond dude, Tammy David, a Renejay fan and social media strategist, observes. “Renejay as a content creator is boastful, overconfident and LOUD,” she says. “I would probably be the same if I were a teenager who was able to buy a car and support my family while doing what I love the most.” Tammy’s first encounter with the ML star was when he was showing his new car, a red MG. “Classic inggit. Pero I guess after watching his vlogs yung appeal niya is, ayun nga, a regular guy from Bataan living his best life. A good son who only wants to help his family.”

His pride and ambition may rub people off the wrong way but seen from another perspective, he’s also just a guy from a small town and humble beginnings enjoying the range of opportunities his newfound fame has afforded him. Isn’t it a young man’s business to dream the biggest dreams and explore his potential? 

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Boy from Bataan

Renejay remembers playing ML for the first time when he was about 15. His cousins introduced the game to him and it eventually became a bonding activity. As Renejay’s interest in the game grew, he was encouraged to improve his skills. But he never dared ask money from his parents to finance his new hobby. Instead, he worked at his uncle’s piggery.

He would play ML from 8PM to 3AM, then leave for Bagac at 4AM to help his tito deliver the pigs. He would earn P150 for every delivery. “Yung P50 binibigay ko kay Papa. Yung P100 baon ko—pang ML ko yun. Wala akong tulog nun,” he shared in one of his vlogs. Another way he earned extra was by selling fruits he would pick from the trees around their area. He remembers earning P80 for every kilo of sampaloc.

Amazed every time he watches streamers and pro players, Renejay tried “piloting,”which means taking over somebody else’s account to play and then get paid for it. He topped in one nationwide competition and that was how he was discovered by another ML star, Akosi Dogie, fondly called Boss D by the players. Boss D is the founder of Aether Main gaming team and is Nexplay Esports’ current head coach.

The name “Boss D” often comes up in our interview with Renejay. Renejay says he owes a lot to the guy. That he was the one who saw his potential in the sport and paved the way for his growth. “Kung di dahil kay Boss D, wala ako dito,” he says. Watching their YouTube videos together, one could see how close they are and how Boss D treats Renejay like a younger brother.

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Renejay with Nexplay Esports' head coach Akosi Dogie. Photo courtesy of NXP EVOS Esports Management

Serious gamer

It’s obvious why Renejay is passionate about esports—competition excites him. “Gusto ko laging tournament ang nilalabanan ko kasi walang hindi magseseryoso dun. Seryoso ang kalaban at kakampi,” he says.

But while he’s always in it to win, he says losses are an important part of the game, too. “Tuwing may nakakalaban akong malakas, okey lang matalo kasi may natututunan ako dun.” Losing is painful, he admits, but it motivates him even more to get better in the game.

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"I guess after watching his vlogs yung appeal niya is, ayun nga, a regular guy from Bataan living his best life," says Tammy David, a Renejay fan. Photo courtesy of NXP EVOS Esports Management

Blad Intia, Nexplay Esports community manager, notes Renejay’s huge improvements over the past couple of years. “Maaga ang pag-usbong nya,” he observes. “Regarding sa skills nya sa ML, talagang magaling sya. His skills are above-average at bata pa sya, madami pa syang matututunan. Kung dati 75 percent ang galing nya, ngayon 85 to 90 na. Renejay has yet to harness his full potential.”

Intia also brings up notable improvements in the player’s character and confidence level, especially when Renejay started to do livestreaming and content creation. “Dati, kung di mo sya kausapin, di mo lapitan, hindi magsasalita. Ngayon, sa mga recent events namin, naakyat sya ng stage, may mga pose-pose pa sya na may angas,” Blad tells ANCX.

A couple of weeks ago, Renejay released his first music video for “Harana,” a song he wrote. The aspiring popstar shares that singing is something he’d been wanting to do even before he became an esports player. “Kasi nandito na ako sa posisyon [na madaming nakakakilala sa akin], so ipapakita ko na lahat ng talents na kaya ko. Ayokong pagsisihan sa huli kung di ko nagawa ang gusto ko,” says the Justin Bieber fan (in case you didn’t know, the name on TikTok profile is Rene Bieber). 

Watch more in iWantv or TFC.tv

Future ready

Watching his YouTube videos, one would get a deeper sense of the maturity in the eighteener. He says his main motivation for all that he’s been doing is his family, to whom he wants to give a stable and comfortable life. 

Renejay is the second youngest among six children. “Pinag-stop ko na magtrabaho sina Mama at Papa simula nung kumikita na ako sa paglalaro,” the esports athlete tells ANCX. “Sabi ko, ako na ang bahala sa kanila. Deserve nila yun kasi ang dami din nilang pinagdaanan sa pamilya namin.”

He’s already started to build his family a home and has opened a couple of businesses, too—a restaurant called Z Barbecue Inasal and an apparel line. He also bought himself a car. All of these came from his earnings as an esports player, streamer, influencer, and content creator. He says these investments are also to prepare him for the unknown future, as he has no idea how long his esports career will last.

Asked about his goals, Renejay says right now it’s just to focus on winning the world championships. “Kumikita na kami,” he says. “Ang gusto na lang naman ay achievements—patunayan na hindi lang kami livestreamer or content creator. Kaya din namin mag-champion sa esports.”