Chea Chanboribo, president of the Esports Federation of Cambodia (EFC), is championing a vigorous enforcement of the EFC’s principles.

He envisions the forward motion of the sport not as a gambling prospect that jeopardises the future of budding athletes but in strict accordance with sports standards.

“We’re not merely observers of sport, but stewards of education and custodians of our athletes’ futures.

“If we don’t consider these factors, the very events we champion could shatter the dreams of our children. The repercussions will one day circle back to us. Hence, I find it necessary to tighten the reins,” said Chanboribo, who is also a secretary of state at the Ministry of Information.

The EFC’s principles, he explains, kick into high gear as high school examinations draw near, putting a pause on any event. The crux lies in ensuring fairness. Players blacklisted for any reason, including leaders, will be denied competition entry. Cash prizes will be awarded directly to the players or teams, with no obligatory sharing with the federation.

“In the heat of the game, rules are sacrosanct. A lack of fair play will earn you a spot on my blacklist, as will any sponsor infringing upon our nation. My approach might not seem overly rigid, but it is indeed stringent for the future of our country’s esports,” he said.

Chanboribo was speaking at a July 29 press conference at the information ministry, just as the EFC announced its partnership with WOWNOW for the WOWNOW & Prince Mall League (WPML) Eports Season II 2023 on Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

This forthcoming WPML 2023 will feature a cap of 512 teams, with only the top eight advancing to the knockout stage alongside seven MPL teams. This results in a total of 15 teams, divided into three groups, who will vie to accumulate points over three days of Best of One matches between August 10-11 and August 17.

Following the group stage, the top two teams from each trio will duke it out in a Best of Three competition, the winners of which will progress to the semi-finals at Prince Mall Sihanoukville, squaring off with the victorious MPL team.

The originator of WPML and chief-executive of WOWNOW, Li Jinhe, expressed optimism about the coming season.

“Last year, WOWNOW and Prince Mall launched the inaugural WPML competition, fuelling the surge of esports in Cambodia. This year, we’ve used the wisdom gained from the first season to create a fairer, more professional experience,” he enthused.

Chanboribo also expressed hope for a smooth WPML season, guided by the terms and conditions of the EFC.

His ultimate aspiration is to aid the advancement of esports in Cambodia, achieving further success in the 33rd SEA Games 2025 in Thailand.

This follows a golden performance by the Cambodian esports team at the 32nd SEA Games on home soil in May this year.

“Yes, indeed, we’ve just basked in the glow of success on home soil, but the ambition now is to replicate this success abroad. We’ve set our sights on victory in Thailand for the 2025 SEA Games,” said Chanboribo.

“We must up our game, adhere to our disciplines, and strive for a sport that fulfils our collective objectives and dreams. After all, nothing surpasses the pride of a nation,” he added.