Claim to fame: A man from humble beginnings who continues to uplift the status of esports and gaming in the country through his empire, TNC.
Eric Redulfin is a self-made man. In its truest definition, self-made means “having become successful by one's own efforts.” And Redulfin’s rise to becoming a pillar of esports and gaming in the Philippines is its prime exemplification.
Eric Redulfin spent his younger days in the farms of Nueva Vizcaya. Life wasn’t easy but he was determined to rise above adversity through good ol’ fashioned education and hard work. It wasn’t until he worked as a computer repairman that Redulfin would unknowingly build the foundation to his empire, TheNet.com (TNC).
TNC started as an internet cafe in 2007 with just one shop on the fourth floor of a building in Quezon City. Today, TNC has over 100 cyber cafes and is among the largest and leading cyber cafe chains in the country. Redulfin has also since expanded to creating some of the best professional teams for DOTA 2 and Mobile Legends. But the CEO does not rest on his laurels; he continues to uplift the local esports and gaming industry through his advocacies that help aspiring gamers and out-of-school youth.
Now who says gaming is just for fun?
What’s been the biggest shock to you regarding how esports has grown in the Philippines?
Ever since I started my cyber cafe business, I have been a passionate advocate for esports. Though I always believed in the potential of the industry, I never imagined it would reach a point where a single esports tournament could change a gamer's life and they could win millions of dollars.
What defines esports in the Philippines and makes it unique from other countries?
As a Filipino myself, I can attest that our hearts are truly big. We are incredibly passionate about the things we love, particularly when it comes to esports and gaming. The support we give to our favorite games, and especially to our Filipino esports athletes, is truly amazing. This was evident in the recent M4 tournament, where many Filipino fans flew to Indonesia to support teams like Blacklist and Echo. It just shows how much we care and support our own.
Why do you think Filipinos have such an interest in esports?
As a Filipino, I can confidently say that we are competitive. Esports is particularly special to us because it is a discipline where physical attributes like height or body structure don't matter as much. For a long time, despite our love for basketball, it has been difficult for the Philippines to win in international competitions due to a lack of height among our players. But in esports, we are on a level playing field, and we have proven ourselves by winning several international competitions. It's clear that Filipinos can truly excel in this discipline.
How does esports help define the Filipino identity outside of its community?
I believe that esports can truly help define our national identity outside of our community. We have a great reputation on a global scale when it comes to competitive gaming, thanks to our numerous championships across different game titles, particularly in Dota 2 and Mobile Legends. And it's not just our victories that are making an impact, but also the fact that many of our players are being recruited by global teams, demonstrating the sheer amount of talent we have in this field. It gives me great pride to see the Philippines being recognized on a global stage in this way.
If you could have known how big esports would get, what would you have done differently five years ago to prepare for it?
As someone who is involved in the business industry, I have noticed that many of our current business units align well with the current state of esports and gaming. However, if given the opportunity, I believe we could have put more focus on nurturing talents such as streamers and hosts. It would be great to excel in that area as well.
Fill in the blanks for us: Youth culture in the Philippines is defined by ____ and kept alive by ____.
Youth culture in the Philippines is defined by a strong sense of community and kept alive by the constant exchange of ideas and trends among peers.
Another one: It’s about time that Complex arrived in the Philippines because ____.
It’s about time Complex arrived in the Philippines because the country has a rapidly growing market for streetwear, fashion and youth culture.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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