Inaugural Champions of CESAFI Esports disqualified on start of Season 2 Playoffs

04:55 PM October 22, 2023

Photo taken from UCLM Webmasters official Facebook page

The start to the Cebu Schools Athletics Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) Esports League (CEL)  Mobile Legends Bang Bang (MLBB) playoffs kicked off with more than just a bang as two out of the three scheduled games for the S2 playoffs resulted in forfeiture as two teams including the reigning champions of Season 1 were disqualified due to a breach in regulation.

The champions of CESAFI MLBB Season 1 had their run for a season 2 title cut short as their players were found playing in a tournament by another league, Visayas Esports League, in direct violation to  CESAFI’s competitive guidelines thus leading to disqualification in the first day of playoffs.


The CEL Head of Staff and Commissioner of Athletics for CESAFI, Ryan Balbuena gave the ruling to disqualify the student athletes for the season as per the protocol that was discussed previously and provided beforehand to all school coordinators and teams since the start of the season.


The three players in question were from the University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu & Mandaue (UCLM) Webmasters roster: EXP laner Rhamiz “AM1ng” Mag- aso, Core/ jungler Cliff Godwin “Dwin” Didal, and support Joffrey “Kudo” Igot. Along with them, gold laner Ice Frincyd “CIE” Estardo from Southwestern University (SWU) Cobra Esports was also accounted for. The CESAFI athletes were listed in VEL’s tournament under the name of Crimson Solace.

According to the guideline:

A student athlete or team is not allowed to participate in any other sports contest, league or tournament of the particular sports event while the CESAFI tournament for the particular sports event is ongoing without the permission of the Commissioner.
Violation by the student athlete of this provision will result in the forfeiture of all preceding games his/her team played where the individual/athlete was fielded or participated.

Kaning mga guidelines gikan CHED mismo, ang schools ang mucontest ana if padayonon. (These guidelines are straight from CHED,  schools have the right to object should they be allowed to continue.)” commented by Balbuena.

He added, “Early in the morning nagsend ko sa mga coordinators, telling them if nay mujoin pahawaon lang para as is ang sched sa tournament. ( Early in the morning [Saturday], I warned the coordinators that if any of the teams joined [VEL’s tournament] we’d have to leave them behind so as to not interfere with [CESAFI] scheduling.)”

In an interview with the Webmasters, AM1ng revealed that they were invited to participate in the provincial qualifiers by the VEL Chairperson and co-founder Anthony “Tonton” Cobacha with the explicit assurance that they will not be disqualified. Tonton’s words from their group conversation thread with Crimson Solace are as shown:

Duwa lang mo, we don’t need confirmation from CEL. Don’t worry di mo ma dq sa CEL. VEL na mag adjust. Dili na ni tournament, let’s just call it VEL scrimmage para walang gatekeep for the players. We don’t want to raise issues or anything, we just want to provide esports opportunities for our aspiring esports players to showcase and develop their skills and talents. I’m 100% sure di mo ma dq, u have my word.

Screenshot of  Visayas Esport League founder message to the players of UCLM


(Just play, we don’t need confirmation from CEL. Don’t worry you won’t be disqualified in CEL. VEL will adjust, it’s not a tournament anymore, let’s just call it a scrim so we don’t gatekeep players. We don’t want issues, we just want to provide esport opportunities for our aspiring esports players to showcase and develop their skills and talents. I’m 100% sure you won’t be disqualified, you have my word.)”

Official mechanics post of Visayas Esports League’s tournament taken from the organization’s Facebook page

The party of Mr. Balbuena stated that they received no word or any communication whatsoever from the side of VEL and the news was broken to them when reports of the UCLM team’s participation in the tournament circulated. Also from the time of writing this, there are no updates in the marketing material for VEL’s tournament that reflect the changes mentioned in the conversation.

For the players in Webmasters, this was a huge blow. Exp laner AM1ng, when asked what will be their moves moving forward, the student athlete expressed his disappointment at the outcome and had this to say:

Mag focus siguro nalang on studies since basin di mi kaduwa next season kay naa man reroster ang UC para sa sunod. Karon nalang last siguro namo, na dq pajud. (We might just focus on our studies since we might not get to play anymore since UC will be getting a new roster. This might be our last and we got disqualified.) ”

CEL Head Ryan Balbuena breaks the news on season ban to the three players from UCLM Webmasters | Photo by Daryll Galindo

As for UCLM school coordinator, Paulo Ngujo, he said: “I was really disappointed because I was not aware and was surprised because I only got the call this morning [Saturday] from Sir Ryan and he told me that my players really participated in that tournament. I reminded them [the players] what we were informed from the start, that we can’t play in other tournaments.”

“I know some of these players have organizations outside of the school but when it comes to CESAFI it should be their focus, I’ll remind them that.” Ngujo added further.

Presently, no official statement has been declared by any of the esports organizations on the matter, with CEL proceeding with their playoffs schedule. The lower bracket match result between SWU and UC Main were declared invalid as SWU did not face immediate disqualification since representative Estrado was only suspected for taking part until to be discovered later that day. UC Main will proceed to face University of the Philippines Cebu in the lower bracket to determine which team will take SWU spot in the upper bracket.



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