MANILA - Sure enough, Jiane "Kenji" Villa made his presence felt in his MPL Season 10 debut game against TNC Pro Team.
First, he made sure RSG Philippines' damage dealers had enough space to farm and take objectives.
And, in one moment that baffled spectators and commentators, he tried to clear minion waves from the opponent's base early into the match -- typical of one of league's best in the EXP-lane.
With his return, he wants to prove he still has it after 10 seasons in the league, now equipped with a crowd after years of playing online.
"Parang naalala ko yung Season 10 dati na ang daming fans. Parang nakaka-boost ng confidence. Gusto kong patunayan na kahit... matanda na po ako, kaya ko pa po," the 24 year old said in a post-match press conference.
Kenji last suited up for the MPL Invitational in 2021. His last major tournament before heading to RSG Philippines was in Omega Esports, when the latter qualified for the world championships in Singapore. But at the time, audiences were barred due to pandemic restrictions.
Eventual Season 9 Finals MVP Nathanael "Nathzzzz" Estrologo took his place in RSG Philippines' main five.
"Binibigyan kami ng chance ni coach every week kung sino ang mas angat ng laro. Noong time na yon mas magaling talaga si Nathzzz at tsaka hindi ako consistent maglaro. Ayun yung itry kong ayusin," Kenji said.
Head coach Brian "Panda" Lim shared the reason behind the roster switch, amid the changes in the game's meta.
"Now that we're still adapting to the meta pa, we felt like we had to use all of the sustain heroes like Esme ni Nathzzz, it's not always the priority pick anymore. So we said "how about let's use Kenji na" because he uses a lot of utility heroes like Ruby, Phoveus, Gloo, Hylos, so we said: let's put Kenji in this week," Panda said.
In fact, Kenji revealed that he idolizes the 16 year old.