What makes a champion MPL team

Michelle Lojo - Philstar.com
What makes a champion MPL team
AP Bren celebrates after winning the M5 World Championships at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila last December.
Moonton Games

MANILA, Philippines – In the world of competitive Mobile Legends Bang Bang (MLBB), Philippine teams have had an impressive record, with multiple squads winning the Mid Season Cup (MSP, previously called Mobile Legends Southeast Asia Cup) and the M World Championships. In terms of national competition, Sibol, the country's national esports team, has been undefeated in the MLBB esports event in the Southeast Asian Games.

This winning trend has even pushed for a demand of Filipino players and coaches from abroad, with the number of Filipino imports in MLBB growing.

But what is it about the teams here in the Philippines that sprout a winning dynasty that the country has seen in the past few years? Is there a secret recipe in creating a champion MPL team?

If you ask any of team heads and managers of the current top MLBB teams in the country, there's no one recipe for success, even in esports and MLBB.

"I don't think may exact winning formula kasi it depends on what culture you want to be built for your team," said RSG's manager Lexie Yambao, something that was immediately proven as each manager had their own priorities when it came to their team.

For the current champions, both in the local and international scene, AP Bren's primary focus is establishing trust between players, coaches and management.

"Para sa amin kasi yung culture na bini-build namin is yung trust. Trust sa player and yung tiwala rin nila sa amin, yung di namin sila pababayaan. Ako kasi mine-make sure ko na wala silang ibang iisipin kundi magpalakas, magpractice, tapos kami na lahat bahala sa ibang bagay," said AP Bren's manager Jeff Victoriano.

For a younger team like Minana EVOS, who will make its first playoffs appearance, it's about discipline.

"Number one sa akin is discipline. If walang discipline yung players, hindi rin sila makikinig sa coaches. Yung process kung paano mo mapapagana yung team; ‘di siya magwowork if walang discipline," said Minana EVOS owner Julius "Banoobs" Mariano.

Though other teams see discipline as an important aspect, there are other aspects that they wish to focus on more.

"Nasa nature kasi ng tao [ang discipline]. ‘Pag pasok kasi ng player sa team, dapat alam na niya yun. Nasa kontrata na yun. Para guidance na lang on our part kasi alam na niya yun," said Echo manager Mitch Liwanag.

For Echo, one important aspect of a team is the relationship between members.

Liwanag adds, "As long as hindi nila sinusukuan yung isa't isa, yung tiwala, yung friendship nila — yun talaga yung secret recipe. Doon mo makikita talaga yung chemistry. Hindi yung batak sa laro, yung araw-araw mag practice. Nag-uumpisa talaga siya sa relationship."

For Blacklist International's Monina Bunsoy, the main factor is consistency.

"Esports is a new industry, meron siyang pagka volatile. For me talaga consistency [is important], ‘di lang in game pati yung support from management. Yung ups and downs na nararanasan ng team, dapat yung support and backing for the team consistent," explained Bunsoy.

Though each team has their own idea of what could be the winning formula to an MPL team, all agree that there are three things that a team should always prioritize.

As mentioned earlier by Minana Evos and Echo, one of the key aspects of an MPL team is discipline, particularly respect for each other.

"Kung gaano ka kagaling pero wala ka namang disiplina saka yung respeto, wala rin. Important yun na nirerespeto mo yung kapwa mo players and yung coaches," added AP Bren's Victoriano.

The second factor that all teams agree on is communication; each member should be able to speak and not be afraid to voice their thoughts.

"The comms should always be balanced. There are alpha players pero hindi dapat siya lang yung nagsasalita or nagsasapawan pag dating sa objectives at lane push," explained Minana EVOS' Mariano.

Lastly, but certainly the most important as all teams seem to agree, the significance of work-life balance.

From RSG's billiard games, Echo's movie nights, Minana EVOS' bonding sessions, and the board game marathons of both Blacklist International and AP Bren, all teams emphasize that nothing good comes from focusing on the game 24 hours a day.

"Important yung may hard reset." said ECHO's Liwanag, a strategy that AP Bren's Victoriano equally believes in.

"Lagi naming sinasabi walang player na nagpapractice 24 hours straight. Dapat healthy lifestyle. Hindi naman pwede puro ML lang," pointed out AP Bren's Victoriano.

Though each team has their own strategy in molding their players to be the champions they are, the winning strategy eventually boils down to making sure there is a balance of all the important aspects of a team: game knowledge, discipline, communication, trust, and finally individual well-being. All together, that is the recipe for a champion MPL team.

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