Here's How Much Salary Esports Players Earn in the Philippines

For months, we investigated. This is what we discovered about the salaries of esports players.
IMAGE SHUTTERSTOCK, MPL PHILIPPINES

Even as stories of Mobile Legends pro players buying houses routinely make the news, the issue of compensation remains a hush-hush topic within the industry.

This is not unique to esports. Even the country’s biggest sports league, the PBA, does not publicly disclose the salaries of players — a marked difference from the NBA, where multimillion dollar deals are routine announcements every offseason.

Many fans say that transparency in this department would be a key reform within the sometimes opaque world of local sports.

Still, reliable sources have disclosed to Spin.ph over the years the salaries of players and coaches in the PBA. A quick recap: Players are guaranteed a minimum of P70,000 a month as part of the universal players’ contract, or UPC. This salary caps out at P420,000.

How does the MLBB pro scene compare?

Revealing the monthly salary of a Mobile Legends player

In a Frontline sa Umaga feature with Blacklist International’s Edward Jay “Edward” Dapadap and TNC Pro Team, sports anchor Gretchen Ho claimed that even a rookie MLBB pro player makes P15,000 to P30,000 a month.

“Tataas pa yan depende sa experience ng atleta,” she added.

Various sources have corroborated these figures with Spin.ph.

In two contracts we viewed, a player who only recently turned pro was entitled to P20,000 a month.

However, achieving “Top 1” in the major pro tournaments — the MPL-PH, the MSC, the M3 world series, and more — entitled that player to a 15 percent increase in salary.

Meanwhile, 25 percent of the prize money earned by the team would go to the esports organization, and 75 percent would be passed on to the players.

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Revenue from ancillary sources (among them, merchandise and promotions) is paid directly to the company.

Some time later, this pro player was able to successfully transition to another team. His compensation jumped to P30,000 a month. His new organization, however, would take 30 percent of the prize winnings.

In addition, a clause in the contract said that the athlete would be in charge of his income tax for his salary, bonus, commissions, and others.

These fees would be reviewed by the team on an annual basis, stated the contract.

Professionalization of league sets minimum standard salary

In August 2021, before the launch of Season 8, the MPL-PH revealed that it would transition to a franchise system, with eight teams holding a slot each.

As part of the league’s push into a more professionalized setup, the league would implement several standards, including “the full protection of rights and interests, which includes minimum player salary, weekly team subsidies, and code of conduct,” said Matt Jaron, the MPL-PH's then-head of business development, at the time.

The MPL-PH has not publicly disclosed this minimum salary.

However, teams are presumably free to negotiate a wide range of salary options for their players.

Speaking to the reporters under condition of anonymity, a player with several years of experience in the MPL-PH said that he had a monthly salary of P30,000.

The biggest amount we heard was from one of a team’s acknowledged “franchise players”. Spin.ph learned that he earned P80,000 a month from his team.

Team executives speak on player salaries

Spin.ph spoke to two highly placed team executives about the issue of player salaries.

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One, who spoke to us under condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue, did not reveal Moonton’s mandated minimum. But they agreed to give the upper end of the salary range they’re aware of.

To this executive's knowledge, the highest paid players in the league are paid almost as much as the lowest-earning PBA stars.

“Should be from minimum to P50,000. Naglalaro doon sa P50,000 to P70,000, depende sa achievement ng player. Sometimes higher than that,” they said.

“We are not allowed to be lower than [Moonton’s minimum]. May pinirmahan kami with Moonton about the salary and contract. May protection na binigay si Moonton for the players about sa salary and contract,” they added.

Still, they stressed that their organization provides more than just a base salary.

“I can’t say the exact kung ano nasa contract, of course, [pero] meron kaming salary increase and other benefits na meron yung ibang company, like social security,” they said. “We also provide all expenses paid na travel for players, or for team building before and after MPL.”

Meanwhile, Rafael Sanchez, country manager of Onic PH, agreed to speak to Spin.ph on the record about player compensation.

“Now, actually, it's a bit different now kasi iba rin yung partnership with Monster Anarchy right now,” he said by way of disclaimer. “But what I can give you is [for the former players]. Kasi I know the numbers.”

So how much were Dlar, Kairi, Baloy, and co. earning at that time?

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“Normally, our minimum is around $400 (around P22,800, based on current exchange rates). And then the highest can go up to a range of around, for example $1,400 (around P80,000) to $1,500 (around P85,700),” said Sanchez.

He confirmed that, during Season 9, Gerald "Dlar" Trinchera was the highest paid player in the team, but did not give an exact figure for his salary. Dlar is currently playing for EVOS Legends in Indonesia. In a separate press conference last week, Sanchez also made the claim that players made three times as much in Indonesia compared to the Philippines.

In a phone call to Spin.ph, Sanchez also spoke about what he knew about salaries in amateur teams.

According to him, there’s a wide gulf between what pro players are earning, and what their counterparts in the minor leagues are getting.

“If you want an idea, if I'm not mistaken, for amateurs, if I remember, ang standard talaga is P5,000 per month. And then I think considered generous nga yung P10,000. Up until now. If you ask around other teams, for example, P10,000 would be the highest,” he said.

Moonton speaks on the minimum salary

A study commissioned by Best Casino Sites released late last month found that the Philippines was the seventh best-performing country in the world when it came to player earnings in esports.

The study found that an average earnings per player comes to around $178,045.60 (or around P10.1 million) per year.

Most of the earnings, the study said, came from Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. In the current season, the league is offering a $150,000, or around P8.6 million, total prize pool — emblematic of the growing prestige of the league.

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In a statement emailed to Spin.ph, league representatives declined to reveal their mandated minimum salary, but stressed that "the actual compensation of the players is up to the discretion of team management."

It said: "The league has implemented a minimum salary based on Metro Manila's minimum wage standards to protect players' interests. Since the league is relatively new, we followed this standard as our basis, and we consulted with teams about it prior to implementation. This way, we can adhere to the local regulations."

The league, however, hopes to increase this minimum as it matures, in consultation with the labor department.

The MPL-PH also confirmed that there is no per-player salary cap. However, "we've implemented that the aggregate maximum monthly salary for all Team Members in the active roster shall not exceed PHP 900,000. This is stated in MPL-PH Rule 3.5."

In addition, the league emphasized that it is always on standby to assist players with regards their compensation, and ensure that teams stand by their contracts. It has even hosted a financial management workshop for players and coaches.

"Since we have no control over their salaries, we implement programs that can benefit them in the long run," they said.

"We've also required the team management to be responsible for paying any insurance or other welfare costs required by the local laws for its players."

Of course, everything we've discussed so far has been about the player's base salaries.

In his interview in Frontline sa Umaga, Edward confirmed to Gretchen Ho that if everything was added up — including sponsorships, allowances, streaming income, and more — a pro player could make up to six figures.

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As Edward’s claim proves, an esports player has several other sources of income at his disposal beyond the compensation he gets from the team.

But that’s a conversation for another time.

FromSPIN.ph

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