It’s an esports move like never before: global giant G2 Esports and Filipino powerhouse Tier One Entertainment partnered to enter the League of Legends: Wild Rift esports scene with the G2 Blacklist (G2B) squad.
In an interview with Yahoo Southeast Asia, Tier One Entertainment CEO Tryke Gutierrez said the landmark partnership will be a huge boon for the Philippine esports industry and an eye-opener for those still doubting that esports is here to stay.
"G2 is US$340 million dollar company, and for them to at least consider the Philippines as one of the markets they want to get to — that means there’s something here,” said Tryke.
“I’ve always believed that there’s a future for Philippine esports. If you think an [organisation as big as] G2 believes that, then it’s crazy for all the local stakeholders and all the local communities to not see the value of esports in the country.”
— BLACKLIST INTERNATIONAL 👑 (@BLACKLISTINTL) February 15, 2023
As a veteran of the Filipino esports industry, Tryke believes that G2 coming to the Philippines is a huge deal even for those unfamiliar with the industry.
After all, Berlin-based G2 is a truly global esports brand with multiple teams competing in top leagues for League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and VALORANT, among others.
While Tier One's Blacklist International brand has grown to be a household name, its reach has largely remained within Southeast Asia and its burgeoning mobile esports scene.
It was only earlier this year that Blacklist stepped outside of mobile competition with its Blacklist Rivalry Dota 2 team.
The fact that a brand as big G2 chose to come to the Philippines for its entry into the mobile esports scene lends credence to the potential of the country, and of all Southeast Asia by extension.
“The initial layer of challenge [when] coming into Asia is the factor of trust, right? Who do you trust in Asia with a brand as big as yours, especially if you’re G2?” Tryke posited.
“In esports and in any industry for that matter, taking care of your brand takes a lot of things. Taking care of your brand takes a lot of resources and time to develop,” he said.
“So for them [G2] to be able to entrust their plan to us, I think that’s a really big part."
An unexpected partnership
When we asked Tryke about the beginnings of the partnership, he mentioned that when he first formed Tier One Entertainment, and by extension Blacklist International, he said that he “never personally expected to partner with [G2]”.
“We always dreamt of meeting them, if there was a [video] feature where we’re part of the ‘NA LCS’ [leagues],” he quipped.
“But there wasn’t really any partnership in esports history that I remember where two organizations merge together, because that’s not normal. You have different objectives, resources, different investors, right?”
Tryke shared that the current CEO of G2, Alban Dechelotte, is connected to one of Tier One’s investors and BITKRAFT Ventures co-founder, Jens Hilgers, who brought up the idea to Alban.
Hilgers is a co-founder, part-owner, and current chairman of G2 Esports, and the founding CEO of ESL (formerly Electronic Sports League).
For Tier One's CEO, the probability of the partnership even happening was really small, which only made him happier that it bore fruit.
While the partnership may only be a move towards expansion for G2, it's an affirmation of years of the growing promise that Blacklist International and the rest of the Philippine esports scene has been showing for years now.
“G2 has always been known as one of the top organizations out there. For us, we’re aiming to become the top organization for mobile esports. So I feel like with G2’s history and with what we have done here in Asia, what we can do together is really something different,” said Tryke.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.