MANILA, Philippines — Mental health has been taking up more space in the daily lives of athletes in recent years, and rightfully so.
When it comes to the esports athletes of the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in the Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL) Philippines, it has also been a focal point of attention.
Despite esports still being in its infancy compared to traditional sports, managers of the top MLBB teams in the country have taken it upon their organizations to also look at the mental welfare of their athletes.
"If the player is not mentally prepared, I guess he can't compete. That's one of our requirements, because hindi magiging fit to work yung player if hindi siya okay mentally," said Echo Philippines country manager Mitch Liwanag said in a panel organized by the MPL Philippines last Thursday.
"On our side, what we do is, of course talk to them personally. After that, siguro dun sa outside [the team], for example sa mga bashers, what we do sa social media is to filter them. Kasi halos puro minors mga hawak namin and hindi nila nahahandle yung mga ganung bagay. Sometimes, it already affects their mental health," she added.
With the growing audience of the MPL and esports in general in the country, athletes are pushed more and more into the spotlight at a very young age.
Underscoring the importance of maintaining mental health through relating with others, Smart Omega's Persian Cas also preached the practice of getting the team together for non-esports related activities that exercise the mind and body.
"Ngayon nag-laan na kami ng parang weekly fitness, may basketball na rin duon sa amin. Para at least after the game, pwede sila maglaro," said Cas.
"Meron na rin kaming tinatawag na "bonding"... Yun yung [binibigyan pansin], kailangan stick lahat. Kasi kailangan lumalabas rin tayo. Kasi mas makakatulong yun eh. Nakaka exhausted rin yung laru ng laru ng laru lang. We manage those things, ok kayo physically, ok kayo mentally," she added.
BREN Esports, meanwhile, took it a notch higher with professional help for their players. But as the young esports talents find it hard to connect with someone who they haven't bonded with, manager Adi Padilla takes it upon herself to attend to the needs of the players' mental well being.
"We used to have an in-house psychologist... What happened was that the players weren't being honest with her. Parang hindi sila comfortable because they don't know her. So parang ang nangyari yung players sa akin pa rin tumatawag," said Padilla.
"Yung parang Ate Abi are you available today? Usap tayo one on one. So ang ginawa na lang namin yun nga, yung naging reason na we are going to do one on one with the players," she continued.
Padilla says she makes herself accessible to the players, and also highlighted the importance of getting exercise in creating a bond while at the same time enriching mental health.
"I'm always available rin naman if they need my help," said Padilla.
"Nag start kami mag workout and then inaaya namin yung mga players and now it's in their schedule na every MWF meron silang gym time before scrim. parang lang marefresh yung minds nila kasi when you move, mas active yung mind mo so mas nakakapag-isip ka ng mabuti. So bago sila maglaro, yun talaga," she continued.
The MLBB scene in the country has seen increased interest in recent years as the industry has churned out some of the world's best.
Most recently, MPL Philippines team Blacklist International won the world championships, while also claiming gold in the 31st Southeast Asian Games under the banner of national team Sibol.
Currently, MPL Philippines is in its fourth week of regular season hostilities in its 10th year.
ONIC Philippines sit atop the standings with a 5-2 slate with Smart Omega in second with a 4-3 record. World champs Blacklist come in third at 4-2.
This article was written by Luisa Morales and came out in https://www.philstar.com/sports/2022/09/04/2207344/how-esports-managers-ensure-mental-health-mlbb-athletes-mpl.