A Street Fighter in Manila: how eSports is kicking off in the Philippines

The Manila Cup attracts huge crowds and some of the best Street Fighter players in the world, all drawn to the country’s unique take on competitive gaming

The room smells faintly of beer, dried sweat, Red Bull and several variants of Axe body spray. The air conditioning is no match for the humidity of the Philippines, and people waft their faces furiously with freebie cardboard fans from one of the event’s sponsors. Strewn across a beanbag in front of the stage is Hiroyuki “Eita” Nagata. One of the biggest stars in the Street Fighter pro-gaming scene, Nagata made it to the top eight of EVO 2016, the giant Las Vegas fighting game tournament. Yet, here he is, napping among fans.

This is the Manila Cup, the most important fighting game tournament in the Philippines – and things work a little differently here.

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