MANILA - Moonton Games recently acquired a talent from the LGBTQ+ community -- Vincent "Antianara" Pajenago.
From his experience as a collegiate esports player, he is now a caster for the game's development league in the Philippines, after emerging as one of the top contestants in their caster search for this year.
Antianara, who played for Ateneo Helios, came out during his senior high school days.
As a male caster who delivered his analysis effeminately, he admitted to ABS-CBN News that he considered following the male casters who came before him.
"Kailangan ko ba [mag-asta] bilang lalaki para maging [appealable] for people? [At first naisip ko na] wala namang bading caster na anywhere. Feeling ko may mga bading na caster pero 'di sa esports at large, so [naiisip ko na] kailangan ko baguhin kung sino ako," he said.
"Even in gaming, I had to prove myself to everyone na for them to feel like I'm at par with them and work my way around that. Whereas parang regular players, they just get respected," he said.
But with the help of loved ones and his fellow casters, he stood by casting "in his true self."
"Start pa lang ng bootcamp namin for top 9, everyone kept on telling me to just be me," he shared.
That came with backlash by trolls who poked fun at Antianara's way of casting, including homophobic slurs.
"On a daily basis, I subject myself to homophobia so why not translate that into a wider platform and at least people will see me and I think ito 'yung biggest bitbit ko," he said.
In a statement forwarded to ABS-CBN News, Keith Niño Medrano, Moonton Games' regional PR manager, said the company was striving "to make our MLBB tournaments a safe space for all gamers and fans alike" as it pushes for "Esports for Everyone."
As the cyberspace continues to remain hostile towards minorities such as LGBTQ talents and players, Medrano, who is also part of the LGBTQ community, said the league moderates pages and bans inappropriate comments.
"We make sure na 'yung mga hate comments are filtered. Only constructive comments are accepted sa comment section," he said, adding that Moonton is 'serious about' cracking down against homophobia.