Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) developer Moonton Games formally announced on Wednesday (14 July) that they will be implementing a franchise league system in the MLBB Professional League (MPL) Philippines for its eighth season, which will begin in mid-August.
The franchise league system, first implemented by Moonton in MPL Indonesia in 2019, is aimed at establishing a sustainable esports ecosystem for MPL PH. The new system will eliminate the need to eliminate teams and hold qualifiers with every season.
Instead, eight teams bought out spots in MPL PH in order to continually compete in the league. The eight initial franchise teams for MPL PH Season 8 include: Season 7 champions Blacklist International, M2 World Champions Bren Esports, ECHO, ONIC PH, Smart Omega, Nexplay EVOS, RSG PH, and TNC Pro Team.
Moonton said that they are looking to welcome new franchise teams to MPL PH in either Season 9 or Season 10.
The franchise league system also promises a diversified revenue model, with Moonton's internal calculations predicting over US$8 million (or PH₱400 million) in revenue to be shared among the franchise teams over the next three years.
MPL PH Season 8 features a total prize pool of US$150,000 and will kick off with its regular season from 13 August to 3 October, with the eight initial franchise teams competing to be among the six teams advancing to the playoffs in late October.
The regular season will follow a double round-robin format, with matches being broadcasted on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday every week. Meanwhile, the double-elimination playoffs will see all qualified teams start in the upper bracket with the Top 2 teams from the regular season earning direct seeds to the upper bracket semi-finals.
MPL PH's new franchise league system is also aimed at developing stronger collaborations and provide better support for the local MLBB community and other partners. The implementation of the system is also part of Moonton's long-term investment plan in the Philippines, which has cemented itself as a bastion for esports in Southeast Asia over the past decade.
The franchise league's improved support for the MLBB community in the Philippines will come in the form of a full protection of rights and interests for players and teams competing in the league. In addition, teams and players will be obliged to follow a new code of conduct but will be guaranteed to receive minimum salaries and weekly subsidies.
In addition, Moonton announced plans to launch the MLBB Development League (MDL) in the Philippines alongside Season 9 of MPL PH. The MDL is aimed to further bolstering the growth of the MLBB scene in the country by giving aspiring players another avenue through which they can compete in the MPL.
The participating teams in the MDL will include the second teams of the eight franchise leagues in the MPL as well as invited and qualified squads.
The franchise league system also promises better job stability as well as professional management and operations for related participants in MPL PH, which includes the likes of casters and production crew. Moonton also hopes that the new system will provide a viable career path in esports for newcomers to the scene.
Fans of the MPL PH should also expect more engagement with teams and players as well as sustainable community growth through a renewed stream of promotions for the league, which will see it collaborate with the robust professional basketball scene in the country.
“The launch of the franchise model marks a momentous chapter in MPL PH’s journey as a league. It will provide players greater sustainability and protection – a goal that we’ve been working and striving towards for ever since the inception of MPL PH. We hope that the shift will encourage more players to participate or compete for MPL PH, and boost growth within the local esports ecosystem,” Matt Jaron, Director of Business Development for MPL Philippines, said in a statement.
"As a staunch supporter of Philippine esports, we at Smart support this move by Moonton because it will further elevate and professionalize the league This will tremendously help our esports athletes who have made a lot of sacrifices in choosing this career path, and we also hope that this will inspire more Filipinos to take their passion in gaming to the next level with a much bigger purpose," added Lloyd Manaloto, FVP/Group Head, Corporate Marketing and Strategy at Smart Communications, MPL PH's presenting sponsor.
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