Hawai'i State News

UH-Mānoa hosts Hawaiʻi’s first mobile esports tournament

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To keep universities in Hawaiʻi and around the Pacific at the forefront of the esports industry, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa recently hosted the state’s first “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” tournament.

Photo courtesy of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Eight college teams from UH-Mānoa, University of Guam, Northern Marianas College and Brigham Young University-Hawaiʻi recently battled it out for the Aloha Collegiate Cup.

The finals were April 21 at UH-Mānoa’s iLab and featured two teams from Mānoa and one from BYU-Hawaiʻi. UH-Mānoa esports students also produced the live tournament broadcast on YouTube.

“It’s the first Pan-Pacific tournament in esports for ‘Mobile Legends’ and mobile esports,” said Nyle Sky Kauweloa, UH-Mānoa esports program director. “That also marks an important pivot point for us across the state. I hope to make this into a broader league with other universities.”

Players compete in teams of five to defeat the opposing team’s base while controlling their own hero character. Each “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” hero has unique abilities and characteristics, and players can choose from a wide variety of heroes to suit their play style.


“Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” is one of the most successful and widely played mobile esports games globally. The 2023 tournament was the second- and third-most watched esports tournament last year, with peak viewership of more than 5 million.

Collegiate esports is trending toward more mobile gaming.

Traditionally thought of as games played on a personal computer, the shift to mobile phones has been critical to closing the gap around the accessibility and affordability of technologies for students.

According to Statista, revenue of the mobile esports market worldwide is expected to grow from $1.2 billion in 2022 to more than $5.4 billion in 2030.

  • Photo courtesy of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
  • Photo courtesy of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The UH-Mānoa esports program in the fall of 2023 launched the first “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” varsity team in North America, giving students brought up in a mobile-first environment more opportunities to join.

“We’ve been successful, not only with our game, but with the community as well,” said Jerome Carl Castillo, UH-Mānoa “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” team captain and tournament organizer. “I think that’s what we’re trying to push because we’re not here to just play, we’re here to grow a community. We’re pretty proud of what we’ve achieved so far in these past few months.”

UH-Mānoa “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” player Alison Chuang added that the team had some offline meetups and the turnout was great.

“It was really nice just getting to know people within the community that also play,” said Chuang. “If you are attending UH-Mānoa or any of the UH campuses, please come by and see if you would be interested in joining us.”


The Aloha Collegiate Cup tournament is also one way Kauweloa is expanding esports participation throughout Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.

“Collaborating with UH, Northern Marianas College and BYU in this esports tournament marks a significant stride in bridging campuses across the Pacific,” said Ken San Nicolas, University of Guam esports manager. “The greatest obstacle to a long-term goal is often showing commitment and putting components in action. We have now moved past that hurdle. … Beyond fostering connections within our esports programs, this initiative has prompted collaboration even among our [information technology] departments, presenting avenues for future partnerships across various fronts.”

Visit the Aloha Collegiate Cup YouTube page to watch a replay of this year’s tournament.

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