Burn X Flash coach reflects on journey to MPL title

Michelle Lojo - Philstar.com
Burn X Flash coach reflects on journey to MPL title
Burn X Flash coach John Michael "Zico" Dizon
Burn X Flash, John Michael "Zico" Dizon's Facebook page, MPL Cambodia

MANILA, Philippines — What started as a meme posted by Setsuna "AkoSiDogie" Ignacio — saying he was "selling" players John Paul “H2wo” Salonga and Renejay “RENEJAY” Barcase and John Michael "Zico" Dizon — turned into a window of opportunities for Dizon, who has won his first championship with his team Burn X Flash in Cambodia and earning the first spot in the coming M4 World Championships.

"[After nun] dun nagkainterest yung mga other teams sa akin. Nagusap-usap kami, may mga nag direct message sa WhatsApp. That time, namimili na ako tapos nakausap ko si Burn. Sila yung pinakamadaling kausap kasi talaga kaya hindi rin ako nahirapan magdecide," Dizon recalled in an interview with the media. 

His initial plan was to have a trial with the team for a month before flying to Cambodia. But it was later shortened to two weeks with the team's management hoping to fly out Dizon as soon as possible. By this time, he had already mentioned his plans with player Michael "MPDKing" Endino, who he wanted to bring to Cambodia as well.

He also wanted Jhonwin "Hesa" Vergara but knew that Vergara's team then, Nexplay EVOS, didn't want to let him go. But when Nexplay EVOS dropped Vergara a few days before the deadline of the rosters, Dizon asked Burn X Flash's management if they wanted to get Vergara as well. That solidified the three Filipinos' move to Cambodia.

Looking back, Dizon did not expect he would earn the title he had wanted for so long in his first season in Cambodia.

"Sobrang saya, sobrang speechless ko, kasi ako mismo, sa sarili ko di ko ineexpect na ganun ko kabilis makukuha kasi three months pa lang ako dito sa Cambodia. Isang season pa lang ako sa Burn and yung nga, di ko ineexpect na ganun kabilis ko siya makukuha. Di pa rin nagsisink in sa akin na champion na ako, may title na sa pangalan ko," said Dizon.

His first season with the team saw a few struggles, especially during his first few days in Cambodia as he had gotten sick and was a bit lonely as he was all by himself. He saw these as among the downsides of being an import, along with missing his family.

But his main struggle had been his communication with the players. Though translators are available, Dizon sees communication as the main hurdle he wants to overcome, especially as they set out for the world championship. 

"Struggle nung una yung comms. Nahirapan talaga ako lalo na kay CCAT, kasi sa kanilang lima, siya lang yung di nakakaintindi ng English. So medyo ‘di kami nakakapagusap, which is sobrang mahirap kasi usually siya yung nagbubuhat. Ang hirap minsan magturo kasi kailangan pang ipatranslate sa ibang mga kasama para maintindihan, eh sayang oras pag ganun," said Dizon.

He adds that along with Vergara, they are studying Cambodia's language of Khmer but admits that he is struggling as he also has a lot on his plate as a coach.

But Dizon and his players found a way to make it work even with the struggle in communication as they won their first MPL Cambodia title with a 3-1 victory over Logic Esports. 

Burn X Flash seemed to dominate the match-up, taking a 2-0 lead, but Game Three saw Logic Esports with a quick comeback at just 12 minutes and 36 seconds.

Dizon confessed he feels responsible for that loss as he allowed his players to choose the hero they were more comfortable in using.

He added, "Ang play ng Logic is nagfa-fast clear sila. And lugi kami kung magdadalawang core kami which is 'yun ang nangyari."

When it seemed like Logic Esports was also going to take Game Four. Dizon admitted that he was already preparing as it would have been a heavy blow to the team. 

"Naghahanda na rin ako in case na matalo kasi sobrang hirap, if matalo kami dun, feel ko matatalo kami buong series kasi mawawala yung morale nila as a team. Kahit sabihin nating reset, cheer-up natin sila, iba pa rin kasi talaga yung feeling nila pagkanatalo." said Dizon.

But even with that in mind, he trusted his players, especially Vergara and finals MVP Sok "CCat" Roth who he knew would turn the tides of the game by the 16th minute, wiping out Logic Esports and securing the championship.

With his and Vergara's success in Cambodia, many within the Philippine Mobile Legends scene might try their luck looking to expand their career overseas and Dizon hopes that if they do, they be sure of their decision.

"Dapat di lang kayo tumingin dito [sa pagiging import] at excited kayo kaagad umalis. Maraming factors na dapat iconsider, tulad ng culture. Maraming magiging adjustments at dapat mentally ready. Masaya [siya] pero at the same time mahirap."

Burn X Flash will represent Cambodia in the coming M4 World Championship happening in Jakarta, Indonesia this coming January. The Philippine representatives will be decided at the conclusion during the playoffs of MPL PH Season 10 happening from October 20-24.

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