The Philippines made its mark on Dota 2 with “Lakad Matatag”, a catchphrase mentioned by veteran shoutcaster Marlon “Lon” Marcelo during the Fnatic versus Secret group stage match at ESL One Katowice in 2018. It meant “walk strong”, as an observation of how Fnatic continued to fight despite a seemingly unwinnable match and steal the victory away from the dominant Team Secret.
Since then, “Lakad Matatag” has spread throughout Dota 2, earning a place in the chatwheels of every single player from casual fan to professional esports athlete. As it united a game with its positive message of walking strong against challenges, it has now transformed to unifying callout for all Filipino gamers. As the nation stands in the field of sports competition once again, “Lakad Matatag” has become the battlecry for Sibol, the official Philippine team for the 30th SEA Games.
The esports category in the 30th SEA Games is made up of six different games: Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Dota 2, Arena of Valor, StarCraft 2, Hearthstone, and Tekken 7. To rise to the challenge, Sibol has gathered a diverse group of esports athletes to rise to the occasion. Some had the chance to be directly invited to be part of the roster, while others went through qualifiers to secure their place on the squad.
These athletes come from different esports teams and organizations, but still answered the call to represent the country as one united team. And this team – Sibol – is united with the nation under one goal: to enter the competition unwavering, strong, and as one.
In the middle of the training and preparation the Sibol team is doing, one thought rings true: “Lakad Matatag”. Despite the challenges and sacrifices, Sibol walks strong to serve as an inspiration to aspiring Filipino esports athletes that while the types of games may be different, it’s the passion, skill, and pride in representing the country that unites us.
The popularity of “Lakad Matatag” is a testament to the Filipino spirit and resilience. By laying the groundwork of discipline, skill, and passion, the current Sibol team, supported by the government and the nation, will lay strong roots for the future Sibol teams and of Philippine esports.
“Lakad Matatag” has transcended the game it came from and became a nation’s battlecry. Sibol too, has transcended its members to become one nation united in the desire to bring honor to the country via the SEA Games, a historic first for esports. As the Philippines prepares for the SEA Games, the message of “Lakad Matatag” is clear: to walk steadfast amidst challenges, to walk with pride in representing the country, and to walk strong as one nation.