“It’s not over until it’s over” - Ash Ketchum
Did you know there’s a growing Pokémon Unite community in the Philippines?
To those unfamiliar, Pokémon Unite is a free-to-play, multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game developed by TiMi Studios and published by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo. It was released for the Nintendo Switch in July 2021, and for mobile devices in September that same year.
Essentially, it’s like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang except you’re using Pokemon. And instead of destroying towers to defeat your opponent, you have to score goals. The team with the highest score within a span of 10 minutes wins the game. The players are forced to practice critical thinking—and fast. Pokémon Unite is easy to learn but difficult to master. It has enough depth to keep players engaged and this makes it a great game for both casual and competitive players.
With a growing Pokemon fan base in the Philippines, it wouldn’t be wrong to say Pokémon Unite has become a force in the local gaming community. It has a strong esports scene. There are regular tournaments and big leagues globally. You’ll get to battle and duke it out with players from other continents in the World Championship Tournament. This gives players a chance to compete at a high level and showcase their skills. In the recently concluded Pokemon Unite APAC East Regional finals, two teams from the Philippines qualified in the World Championship and will proudly represent not just the country but the whole APAC East Region.
The two teams are Odd Man Out (OMO) Abyssinian and Team Old Guys. Both will be playing in the upcoming Pokémon Unite World Championship series scheduled this August in Yokohama, Japan. The two teams have proven themselves to be the very best in the country, defeating all APAC East region Pokemon Unite teams.
The Pokémon UNITE World Championship 2023 follows last year’s debut competition. The tournament will feature the best players from around the world competing for a share of the $500,000 prize pool. It will be held over three days, with the first two days featuring preliminary rounds and the third day dedicated to the finals. The preliminary rounds will be single-elimination, with the top teams from each region advancing to the finals. The finals will be a double-elimination bracket, and the winner will be crowned the Pokémon UNITE World Champion.
OMO Abyssinian, the champion of the regional finals, was founded by Rafael Gilbuela in 2021. The team is composed of six talented players: Jose Miguel Liban (jrabsent), 23; Joshua de Leon (shua), 19; Michael Vaughn Ocio (miva), 20; Luis John Felizarte (luisss), 16; Joe Daryl Maghanoy (tempezt), 21; and Justine de Guzman (jasuu), 25. The members are from diverse backgrounds, and come from Mindanao, and Southern and Northern Luzon. Despite different interests and pursuits, they managed to work as a team and qualify for the World Championship.
The OMO Abyssinian has been around since Season 1 of Pokemon Unite. They’re the first Filipino team to ever make a name for themselves on the international stage when Aeos Fortis Reges placed 2nd runner-up in the 2022 Japan Winter Tournament. The dynamic duo of de Leon and Ocio have continued to forge a path for this team's continued success, winning 2nd runner-up in the PH Open as AFR, and representing the country in the Asia Champions League as Secret Rare.
Over time, the team has gone through a series of changes, picking up Jose Miguel Liban (jrabsnt), a former EU player under Random Gaming, to bolster the team to even greater heights. With the recent addition of veterans Joe Daryl Maghanoy (tempezt) and Luis John Felizarter (luisss), OMO Abyssinian has taken the next step to position themselves in the upper echelons of APAC East.
On the other hand, Team Old Guys, who landed 3rd place in the Regional Finals, was created by Albert Camp in February of this year. The team is composed of seven players: Lawrence Gatmaitan (RBX), 26; Robert Mempin (Sync1), 22; Lance David (Lance), 19; Ducke Leoncio (Thorfinn), 23; Guil Mayhew (Weyham), 21; Richard Teodosio (Counter), 28; and Camp (Berty), 29. With extensive resumes in the Philippine Professional esports scene—they have former Bren Esports Players, a former Sibol Philippine Team Captain, a former member of a top Philippine Pokemon Unite team, and Tier One Ampfly Talent—the members’ combined experiences helped them climb their way up to the World Championship.
As a relative unknown and with only a month of preparation, the Team Old Guys’ journey was filled with challenges: doubt from others, being mocked for their obscurity in the community and laughed at for the game they played. But they were able to beat the odds and establish a name by defeating the Kings of Asia in the Unite World Championship Series, April Cup, earning them the title of ‘Champion Slayer’. They are the new team to watch.
Like many esports players, these teams harbored big dreams. Their journey to qualify for the Pokemon Unite World Championship involved sleepless nights and multiple defeats. Currently, both teams are preparing for the big stage in Yokohama. Will we see a Philippines vs. Philippines World Championship showdown?