“Puro ka na lang cellphone!” (“You are always glued to your phone!”) This expression normally conveying exasperation is often uttered by Filipino parents when their children focus more on mobile gaming than on studying. However, 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).
However, 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 shares. [Rough translation: “It was hard because I was surviving with a lack of sleep. I’d start doing my requirements after playing Mobile Legends until 3AM. And then I’d go to school at 7:30.”]
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. [Rough translation: “I am a graduating student taking online classes while playing. I used to cry because I couldn’t do it anymore, but I still pushed through.”]
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.” [Rough translation: “I really want this. I enjoy playing but at the same time, I also have goals aside from being an esports player.”]
They also shared that their families, classmates, and teachers encouraged them to balance their studies and work. Rage opens up, “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.” [Rough translation: “If I was missing anything in school or it coincided with training, I’d talk to them and try to adjust things so I could prioritize both of them.”
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 adds. [Rough translation: “As long as it’s possible to balance studies and gaming, keep going until you reach your goals.”]
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