AP Bren Talks About Building Success in Philippine Esports

AP Bren, also known as Bren Esports, makes headlines again after winning the championship title for Mobile Legends Bang Bang in the recently concluded Games of the Future 2024. Held in Kazan, early this March 2024, AP Bren went undefeated from the group stage eliminations to the championship match and added another trophy to their list of international accolades. 

Sharing insight into the experience, Jab Escutin, AP Bren’s Director sums it up by saying “Everything went as planned” as they won not just the championship but also the Playoffs MVP title which went to Marco “Super Marco” RequitianoAP Bren’s Gold Laner. Jab further elaborates that the win “further solidifies our position as the world champions” having also recently won the MLBB M5 Championships early this year. “It solidifies that the way we develop our athletes for the MLBB team is ahead of all the other Esports teams in Southeast Asia” Jab also adds. 

AP Bren (Bren Sports)

But how did AP Bren work towards building that position? The answer, of course, goes back to the organisation’s founding. AP Bren, started as Bren Esports, was founded by Bernard Chong back in 2017 with a vision of elevating esports in the Philippines. 

Bernard took a step back as a founder in early 2023 with the team now Aces Pro. Both gamers to their core, Bernard met Jab through their fondness of playing Clash Royale and were even clanmates before the organization’s founding. At that time, Jab says that Bernard “feels that a lot of Filipino athletes have a chance to actually be superstars in Esports” and so Bren Esports, now AP Bren was formed. 

During their start, both Jab and Bernard also made sure of one thing – to do things right. “We talked about how do we do this properly, how we create the vision and make it reality,” Jab says. “We were working towards providing support and a proper structure for Esports athletes. Sobrang dami naming nakikita na wasted talent because of improper structure, management, and development of talents and skills nila” he adds, and with this in mind the foundation Bren Esports, now AP Bren was formed. 

With their numerous accolades, AP Bren is undeniably the Philippines’ Esports flagbearer, a brand going beyond MLBB as the organization was also home to pro teams of other games. But it’s not just the vision, one that is shared by many that propelled the brand to the status that it has today. 

Talking more about structure, Jab shares that “One thing that sets Bernard apart from other leaders is that he understands what he knows and what he doesn’t. He understands his role in the organization and he knows that he has to rely on others”

Together with Jab, Bernard Chong surrounded himself with people to fill all the necessary roles within the company. “Surround yourself with the smartest people around the room” is a philosophy that Bernard exhibits according to Jab and that made for a leader who supports and not just manages “We felt that he was there to support us. When he finds that you’re good at something, he lets you do your own thing and he does his own”.

Both of them understand that they do not have to do everything but the important thing is to do it right and find people to help to do it right. Still, that doesn’t mean that they were completely hands-off, while specialized roles are made and filled with the right people, guidance is provided when they get to talk to athletes and other members within the organization. “Bernard would show that he’s there to support rather than yung boss na pag nakita mo feeling mo na tinitignan niya kung nag-ta-trabaho ka ng maayos” Jab says, as a leader Bernard also checks on the teams and the athletes and even share “wisdom in a different light” offering a different mindset on how to face different challenges “the main goal is to be very supportive”.

And that support has been extensive, a known milestone of AP Bren was the creation of a fully-fledged esports facility that’s not just an office but with proper training rooms, recreational areas, a production center, and even a gym. 

The facility was also critical during the 2019 SEA Games Esports as it housed not just AP Bren’s athletes but also the rest of the Philippines’ Esports contingent. “We wanted to give our athletes the confidence that they are on the right career path” Jab shares on the idea behind Bernard building the facility. 

Located within Metro Manila’s known business district and built to be a professional facility, it was a significant leap from the usual setup of esports boot camps – residential units with a less formal approach. The facility also helped introduce a new persona to the esports athlete stereotype “pagpunta pa lang ng parent sa office, they would immediately understand that this something big, my kid is getting into something that is not a waste of time” as Jab puts it meaning that because of how it was built, even parents who may not be fully knowledgeable about esports, can start to see the level of professionalism that pro play has, how it’s more than just playing games. “When people go to our office they know that it’s a proper business, we feel that it’s a long-term development for all of us”. 

And that long-term development continues up until today “Bernard focuses on his vision in the long term” compared to other team owners who focus on the short term, Jab says that Bernard “thinks about an entire decade, pag may na-achieve kami this year, he will be happy but he will still talk about the next five or so years” and the fact that AP Bren still stands, their numerous accolades and how it has become and continues to become a household name in Philippine esports is proof that the vision that Bernard Chong had in 2017 continues within the brand today.