PUBG Mobile Esports turns to franchising in SEA with Super League (PMSL)

PMSL is the rumored franchised league for PUBG Mobile in Southeast Asia. Tencent had already revealed its intention to begin franchising in the region back in January 2022. Now, it seems that those plans are gaining fruition. The PMPL SEA Championship is going to be replaced by the PUBG Mobile Super League (PMSL).

With the PUBG Mobile Global Championship (PMGC) 2022 being an immensely successful event for the game, Tencent is set to introduce a big change to one of the game’s biggest regions: Southeast Asia.

PMSL Pubg Mobile

PMSL teased as the franchised league in SEA

In a now-deleted post by the PUBG Mobile Esports Vietnam Facebook account, Tencent confirmed that the PMPL SEA Championship is going to be replaced by the PMSL. The PMPL SEA Championship is the top-level regional competition in the country.  Top teams from individual PMPLs in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand qualify for it.

According to Liquipedia editor Hesketh, the buy-in for a franchised slot will be $500,000. It’s unclear what the financial lining of the league will be, although, an amount of $500,000 looks reasonable for an esport with steady and growing viewership. The SEA market is also really mature in terms of esports. Additionally, it has a lot of brands ready to invest in the industry.

However, the PMSL will likely not be a completely closed franchised league like the Overwatch League (OWL). Tencent’s director of esports James Yang had said in January 2022 that they intend the league to be “lighter and more open,” according to a report by Dot Esports.

Being open, it’s possible that while some slots will be locked in for the franchised organizations, there will be some open ones for teams to qualify through. Last year, Tencent said that it intended to launch this league in the second half of 2022. It seems, however, that those plans have slightly been derailed to 2023.

The PMSL is a good sign for the game, though. With a franchised league, teams will be able to get a share of the revenue from esports competitions directly instead of relying on prize pools. The stability that comes with franchising will also enable them to close better sponsorship deals.

Not the first franchised league for PUBG Mobile esports – and probably not the last

The franchised system is no stranger to PUBG Mobile esports. In China, for example, the Peacekeeper Elite League (PEL) is in existence which is a franchised league. In Japan as well, a slightly similar format exists for the PUBG Mobile Japan League (PMJL).

Both of these regions, however, have been different from the rest of the global PUBG Mobile esports ecosystems since its inception. The PMSL will be the first time a franchised league is being implemented for the global esports ecosystem.

Tencent also said last year that the franchised league was a test and if it works out well, they will expand it to other regions as well.

PUBG Mobile esports

Even if the league turns out to be a success, taking the franchised model to other regions might be a problem. For PUBG Mobile, SEA is the perfect market with mature esports organizations and a huge fanbase.

In other regions, either of these is missing. For example, South Asia has a huge number of fans but since the omission of India, there is a lack of esports organizations who might be able to invest that amount into the game. Western markets, on the other hand, have esports orgs but PUBG Mobile lacks in popularity in those markets. Latin America and the Middle East are two prospective markets to take the franchised league to next, however, that will depend on the success of the PMSL.

More details about the PMSL are still awaited.