MANILA -- After weeks of speculation, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang game developer Moonton announced that MPL-Philippines will shift to a franchise-based setup ahead of Season 8.
In a virtual press briefing, Matt Jaron of Moonton Philippines' business development, said this was done so they could further professionalize the ML:BB scene locally and make it a long-term investment not just for the viewers but also for the league's teams and corporate partners.
"It’s really a collaborative decision with everyone in the ecosystem. We are hoping and we know it will offer benefits to everyone. It will offer opportunities to everyone else in the community. So that’s why after so many seasons, now we finally decided it was the best time to launch [a franchise-based] MPL-Philippines," Jaron said in the briefing.
MPL Season 8 will see changes in roster requirements and tournament format, as well as the addition of regulations safeguarding the players such as player salaries, team subsidies, and the player code of conduct.
"For the longest time in the MPL, I think we were lacking when it comes to this. So this is one of the focus factors that we really wanted to consider," Jaron said, adding that there will also be various offline activities next season.
Matches for the regular season will remain online amid the pandemic, with a double round-robin format with the top 6 teams qualifying for the playoffs.
The roster cap was expanded to 10 players instead of 6 to allow teams to easily adjust their rosters, which, according to Jaron, would be vital during the pandemic.
The playoffs will be held via a seeded double elimination format with a best-of-5 series. Season 8's grand finals will be a best-of-7 affair in a bubble setup.
The inaugural franchise-based season will include the following teams:
- Blacklist International
- Bren Esports
- Onic PH
- RSG PH
- Smart Omega
- Echo Philippines (Formerly Aura PH)
- Nexplay Evos (Formerly Nexplay Esports)
- TNC Pro Team (Formerly Work Auster Force)
Ahead of the announcement, some of these squads, mostly composed of MPL mainstays, have already announced some changes such as roster transfers and collaborations with esports giants in Southeast Asia.
Moonton also bared plans for a ML:BB developmental league (MDL) in Season 9, estimated to start in 2022, as it shuns open qualifiers for Season 8. MDL can have the second teams of MPL teams, qualified teams, and invited teams.
For Season 8, MPL will have a prize pool of $150,000 (around P7.5 million) at stake.
The regular season will start on August 13 and last until October 3. Playoffs will be held in late October.