MANILA - Echo Philippines had the weight of the world on their shoulders last season.
Known for their in-game swagger and chaotic, highlight reel plays, the star-studded squad catapulted to the top of the standings in the first half of MPL Season 9.
But reality slapped them hard in the second half, as they lost four of the regular season’s last 5 games, and the comfy cushion they set up for themselves. Adding insult to injury, they crashed out of playoff contention from day one.
Shaking off the growing pains, Echo Philippines is in a better place as Season 10’s regular season reaches its twilight. With the upper bracket semifinals slot, they will start the playoffs without having to think about getting eliminated on Day 1.
Coach Tictac has the newfound discipline and maturity of his players to thank for.
“Sobrang gigil sila kasi nga from last season, ang tawag sa kanila superteam, so ang laki ng expectation. So ngayon gigil na gigil silang makuha ang championship. Especially ang laking bagay ng maturity ni Karl, Yawi, and Benny. Sobrang laking bagay and ang leadership ni Yawi,” Tictac shared in a post-match press conference, Sunday.
For one, child prodigy Karl “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno, who was described by his present and former managers as being "too upfront" at one point, distanced himself from RSG jungler Jonard “Demonkite” Caranto’s comments on his gameplay last Saturday, and even cleared the air when the latter alleged he ignored a fist bump before their round 1 game.
"Wala naman po talaga akong galit sa kaniya. Kasi ever since naman po pagpasok niya wala naman po akong sinabing masama sa kanya," the 18 year old said.
KarlTzy also relished the better exchange of ideas between his teammates this time around.
“Siguro mas madaming utak na nagtutulungan kung ano 'yung mali sa drafting at sa loob ng game,” the M2 world championship MVP shared.
Yawi, who once said he was inspired by girlfriend Jennifer Nierva's UAAP volleyball championship run, became the glue of Echo as its captain, keeping the team unified in crucial plays like the backdoor play he forged against Bren Esports.
BennyQT, meanwhile, has positioned himself in a good spot to take the regular season MVP plum, with Echo as one of the league's frontrunners as it stands.
Their next mission is to solidify the top spot they once claimed in the MPL — and possibly do what no other team has done: beat the world championship lineup of Blacklist International twice, when they square off in the regular season finale, Monday evening.