MANILA (UPDATE) — Two Philippine teams will battle it out with the world's best in the 3rd installment of the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang World Championship (M3 World Championship) set in Singapore next month.
ML:BB Professional League Philippines (MPL Season 8) champions Blacklist International and runner-up Onic PH will face 14 other teams from Asia, Europe, Brazil, and North America for a lion's share of the $800,000 prize pool and the title as the world's best Mobile Legends team.
Michael Lin, esports marketing manager of Moonton Games, said they took into account the high vaccination rates and the "very clear post-COVID direction" in choosing Singapore as this year's host country.
"One, the international presence of incoming teams. And of course, the potential to have an in-person audience at an international event of this scale, given the COVID-19 situation. Fans told us that they really want to see their heroes. And teams have told us that they miss seeing their fans and counterparts in person as they battle it out," Lin said.
"Singapore makes most sense for us because of the high vaccination rates and you know structurally a very clear post-COVID direction," he added.
Singapore also hosted the tournament in M2, where Philippine squad Bren Esports emerged as the champion among 12 competing teams.
Health checks and safety protocols will also be in place, with self-quarantine, temperature checks and a "strict movement plan" for all competing players. Moonton said this will be a mix of their own guidelines in coordination with their risk management team and the national government.
"The Singapore Tourism Board and local authorities have been working closely with us to produce a safe and hospitable event for all gamers. We are very much grateful for the continued partnership, and we look forward to reaching new esports heights with M3," Lucas Mao, Esports Managing Director of Moonton games, said in a press release.
Towards the second half of the year, Singapore has employed a "living with COVID" strategy, which seeks to reopen its economy in the middle of vaccine protocols. Over 85 percent of the city-state's population has been fully vaccinated, government data shows.
Recently, the city-state noted an uptick in COVID-19 cases, tallying a record-high 5,324 COVID-19 cases on October 28 "mostly due to many COVID-positive cases detected by the testing laboratories within a few hours in the afternoon."
Lin said organizers will monitor the situation in the coming weeks and plan the tournament accordingly.
"We still have another few weeks to monitor and we do have trust in the rules set forth," Lin said.