MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The expression, “Puro ka na lang cellphone!” (You are always glued to your phone!), normally conveys exasperation and is often uttered by Filipino parents when their children focus more on mobile gaming than on studying. But, for Smart Omega athletes Dean Christian “Raizen” Sumagui, Mery “Meraaay” Vivero and Ronan Arkie “OMG.Rage” Eleria, they have proven that balancing academics and gaming can be done.
Graduating with honors from a science high school in Cavite, 18-year-old Raizen shared that he was elated when he found out about his rank in school, soon after his team Smart Omega, the professional esports team of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), finished second place in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League – Philippines (MPL-PH).
But, it was not an easy feat.
“Sobrang hirap kasi lagi akong puyat. Pagkatapos kong mag-ML ng alas-tres ng umaga, doon ako gagawa ng requirements. Tapos may pasok ako ng 7:30,” the jungler shared.
Omega Empress captain Meraaay echoed the same sentiment. “Online class po at graduating student ako habang naglalaro. Umiiyak ako dati kasi hindi ko na kaya, pero hindi po talaga ako huminto,” she said. Meraaay led her team to win back-to-back championships in Liga Adarna.
For Rage, who is part of the Call of Duty Mobile Garena Masters II champion squad, it felt overwhelming at first, but with time management and the right support system, he was able to overcome the struggles. “Gusto ko talaga ‘to, nag e-enjoy ako maglaro pero at the same time, meron din akong mga pangarap bukod sa pagiging esports player.”
They also shared that their families, classmates, and teachers encouraged them to balance their studies and work.
“If meron man akong mga academics na kulang sa time at matatamaan yung training, kakausapin ko sila at i t-try kong ipa-adjust para both ways magawa ko yung priority ko,” added Rage.
As the top patron of esports development in the Philippines, Smart has partnered with local agencies, grassroots organizations, and global institutions to encourage the youth to participate in competitive esports activities.
Meanwhile, Smart-supported Omega Academy develops talents in the esports industry and pushes for a healthy balance between physical and online activities for the holistic development of esports athletes.
As for the three graduates, they will level up as students, while making their fans proud in the stage of esports. “Hangga’t kayang pagsabayin ang pagaaral at paglalaro ituloy lang hangga’t makarating ka sa iyong pangarap,” Rage said.