The Man Behind The Masters: Ronald Robins
Get to know Mineski's head and his dream for esports
On May 26, the Philippines will host the Manila Masters, marking a high point in what seems to be the best couple of years that the Philippine esports scene has ever had. The Philippines has hosted ESL One Manila and the Manila Majors, along with a slew of other premier esports events. Filipino teams are making their mark around the world across various esports, qualifying for major tournaments and inching closer than ever to world titles.
But none of this came out of nowhere -- in fact, the rise of the Philippines in the world of esports has been a long time coming. It is the result of over a decade of foundation-laying for a stable local esports industry, which can be attributed to one person, the Father of Philippine Esports, Ronald Robins.
The Man At The Helm
Also known as Mineski.Rhom from his days as a professional DotA player, or to employees and friends simply as Roro, Ronald is a father figure to everyone. From 2006-2009 he was Mineski-Dota's visionary captain (winning the PH qualifiers for Asia Cyber Games for DotA 2008 and the Philippine Leg of the Asian DotA Championship 2007-2009). From 2010 until the present he has been the CEO of the Mineski Franchise Corporation. With his wife Sharon, he is even an actual father to two daughters and a son, named Rylai, Ryzzah, and Roshan (his love for Dota becomes obvious here).
Despite being the ultimate head of the expansive Mineski Franchise Corporation (which includes the cybercafe franchise, the Mineski-Events Team, MineskiTV, Mineski.net, and the various Mineski pro teams), Ronald's office is always open. When he talks it is always about the future rather than the past. He refuses to relax on what he has achieved so far and continues to have plans for the betterment of esports not only int he Philippines but also Asia, and hopefully the world.
This is a man who cares about this industry, having started from the very bottom of it as a struggling competitive gamer from a time when LAN cafes refused to stay open after dark and tournaments were organized more for betting than a serious cultivation of local teams. In 2009 Ronald made the personal sacrifice of leaving the game he loves so dearly behind, retiring from the competitive scene indefinitely, in order to devote his attentions to growing Philippine esports through the Mineski Franchise Corporation and the country's first-ever nationwide esports league in the Mineski Pro-Gaming League.
The MPGL perhaps sums up Ronald's unique and selfless philosophy: in its first incarnation Ronald and his teammates in the dominant Mineski roster of the time deliberately excluded themselves from the tournament, instead organizing it for other local teams, letting other teams hone and forge their skills. Ronald has said, "It is not about making one team strong. It is about making the country strong."
Even when asked about how he feels about the title of "Father of Philippine Esports" being awarded to other successful owners in the industry, he laughs and says that it's a good thing.
"This is what we wanted to pave the road for in the first place: that the scene grows and more people are inspired to make a name for themselves in esports. You can have a career now in esports -- that has always been the dream. It may be esports but it doesn't have to be a competition as long as we are always promoting Responsible Gaming."
Now, with the Manila Masters and the expansion of the Mineski Franchise Corporation into a Southeast Asian brand, Ronald has his eyes set on the whole region.
The Mineski-Events Team
Ronald had more to say on the Mineski-Events Team:
"MET has always put itself in the service of making the esports dream a reality. At least one global scale event per year in the region strongly impacts esports growth. It's an ultimate experience for the enthusiasts, and entertaining weekend for fans at home who can watch on TV and online, and best of all it educates audiences of every age on the scale of esports today. Imagine: we can fill an arena with shouting fans. How can anyone deny that this is the sport of the future?
Through 10 years of promoting esports events in Southeast Asia, we've learned that all the aspects of esports are connected. A healthy competitive scene creates better players and teams that are more able to stand their ground globally and this increases the fanbase and viewership, which feeds passion back into the competitive scene. There is undeniable intensity and passion there that creates this wonderful community. The goal shouldn't be that our best players are enticed into teams from other countries, but that the world's players are enticed into our region's best teams."
The Masters Plan
Enter the Manila Masters, the Mineski-Events Team's first foray into organizing their own global tournament. The MET had already previously helped ESL with the successful ESL One Manila. Add to that eight years of organizing the MPGL and its Southeast Asia-wide legs, as well as a host of other esports events big and small through the years, and you have a team that is absolutely ready to take on this next big step.
"MET is ready. We are ready. The Philippine scene already has a strong backbone, and PH teams and orgs are getting stronger by the day. This time we want to strengthen Asia as a whole. There are so many passionate fans here but our esports infrastructure is not yet up to par with the global standard, and so many times our players are underestimated. That can change, and [Mineski] has the experience and resources to contribute to that in a big way and so we will."
On May 25, the day before the Manila Masters, Ronald turns 31. He's still full of ideas and, more importantly, dreams for esports.
"When my teammates and I set up the first Mineski Grounds cybercafe, we were moving forward. When we started the national league, we were moving forward. When Mineski Infinity expanded nationwide in 2010, and then to Southeast Asia in 2013, we were moving forward. Even just this year when the Mineski-Dota team evolved from a Philippine team into a Southeast Asian team, even if not everyone agreed with the move, we were still moving forward.
Even if the road ahead is hard and untested we will move forward. How else will others know there is a path? Now, with the Masters, we are going to move forward again."