Esports: When COVID-19 hit his brother's job, E2MAX's ML career kept family afloat

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2022 01:02 AM

Patrick 'E2MAX' Caidic is one of the most formidable veterans in the local ML:BB scene. He bared that he juggled the last moments of his undergraduate studies during his rookie year. Courtesy: MPL Philippines. 
Patrick "E2MAX" Caidic is one of the most formidable veterans in the local ML:BB scene. He bared that he juggled the last moments of his undergraduate studies during his rookie year. Courtesy: MPL Philippines. 

MANILA - Months away from finishing his collegiate studies in 2019, Patrick “E2Max” Caidic received an offer to play Mobile Legends: Bang Bang professionally.

Although hesitant at first because he only saw ML:BB as a pastime, then Computer Engineering student E2Max said yes to a call by his good friend Billy “Z4pnu” Alfonso, to join Execration in the MPL in Season 3, as his academic load freed up. 

“Sumakto rin na natapos ko na lahat ng subjects ko and OJT na lang ang dapat ite-take. So tinry niya {Z4pnu] ako kulitin. And ayun nakapag-decide ako ana sumali ng Execration,” E2MAX told reporters in a panel interview set by Moonton Games on Sunday.

For a while, E2MAX ferried himself from the team boot camp in Cavite, to his internship job in Quezon City, and back, on top of balancing work for his undergraduate thesis in 2019. 

With the grueling commute, and the measly salary he made at the time when professional players didn’t make so much, E2MAX had to adjust. 

“Monday to Friday, and pagdating sa weekends umuuwi ako sa thesis rin and OJT. Pero yung kalagitnaan ng season 3, talagang binitawan ko yung OJT. parang hindi na ko masyado makapasok kasi from [bootcamp namin sa] Cavite and pinapasukan ko QC eh nahirapan ako kasi hindi pa ganoon kalaki ang salary ng pro players… So kailangan ko talaga magsacrifice and magbitaw kaya buti pinayagan naman ako ng sa OJT ko,” E2MAX recalled. 

The road to pro, however, was not a bed of roses, with his parents even shutting off the WiFi connection in the middle of the night while he trained at home and pursued his studies at the same time. 

“May time na pinapatayan ako ng WiFi kapag inaabot ako ng madaling araw. Nag-aaral ako noon, papatayan ako ng wifi and nagagalit sila,” E2MAX answered, when asked if his parents supported his career. 

E2MAX still managed to finish his thesis, and graduated. From there, he set out to become a full-time esports athlete.

Months later, the world plunged into a health crisis and made the world stand still as authorities sought to contain a mysterious virus and E2MAX’s seafarer brother, who was the breadwinner of the family, was left without a job as a result.

E2MAX during a panel interview last September 11. Courtesy: MPL Philippines. 
E2MAX during a panel interview last September 11. Courtesy: MPL Philippines. 

The pro gaming scene in the Philippines continued, and E2MAX’s career stayed afloat, so he stepped in.

“Yung kuya ko na ano panganay nagbabarko siya and nung nagkapandemic nawalan siya ng trabaho. Two years din siya natengga. Wala siyang mapagkakakitaan na iba eh parang siya yung pinaka-main na sumusuporta sa family namin. Kumbaga noong nawalan siya ng trabaho [ako na ang pumasok],” the veteran said. 

And it was a wonderful time for Execration indeed as let out a monumental run in MPL Season 7 held 2021, when they ousted reigning champs Bren Esports, and nearly clobbered eventual champs Blacklist International in the Grand Finals. 

Months later, they got their revenge in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Southeast Asia Cup, and earned the lion's share of the prize pool amounting to millions of pesos.

With the money coming in at the right time, he was able to help provide for his family, as league operations went on. 

“Ngayong pro player [ako]... Napakalaking bagay noon... Parang ako yung nag-provide sa family napag-aral ko yung kapatid ko and gastos sa bahay,” the pro player recalled.

Now, his parents are proud, while his brother will set sail once more. However, he will still continue to provide for the family while he can, he shared. 

Years later, E2MAX remains to be one of the ML scene’s most formidable veterans, and has been captain even after the entire Execration roster moved to Omega Esports and kept its venomous rigor in the league. 

As the team tries to book a slot into the world championships in Jakarta, Omega has been trying out different midlane combinations, often alternating E2MAX with ML wunderkind Kiel "KielVJ" Hernandez, who transitioned from the jungler role to midlane. 

With a long, decorated run in the MPL and even in the international scene, E2MAX admits retirement is imminent, not just for him but for everyone else in the esports scene, citing the competitive scene's short career lifespan. 

Moving forward, the team's main shot caller in-game sees himself taking up a coaching position. But for now, he will hold it out while he can. 

"Nakikita ko sarili ko na maging coach kasi ngayon player ako parang naa-apply ko siya sa sarili ko, 'yung pagiging captain and yung dapat gawin kumbaga ang goal as player gusto ko gawin as a coach. Siguro kung ano man di man ako maglaro 'yun ang next stop ko. Titingnan ko pa kung hanggang kailan malakas parang ganoon," he said. 

Despite taking the leap, the Omega captain hoped that younger players will still pursue their studies, and that this determination will rub off on them. 

"Priority pa rin talaga ang pag-aaral. 'Yung pagpo-pro [hindi talaga pinapalad na] lahat makapasok talaga. Kung susugal man kayo. ang ibang tao kasi walang chance makapag-aral pero yung mga taong may kapasidad, Ipursige mo talaga pero kasi sayang naman kung iisipin mo na may players na wala silang kapasidad," he said.