WHEN Paul Denver “Yeb” Miranda faced Onic PH for the first time before the start of Season 8, he told them, “Hi guys, I’m Coach Yeb from Cignal Ultra, the famous 0-13 team.”
What a way to introduce yourself to a new squad.
It was a humbling moment for the longtime esports veteran, who, back during the MPL-PH’s Season 4, was personally invited by Dota legend (and current Smart Omega coach) Anthony “Ynot” Senedrin to become part of Mobile Legends pro team Geek Fam.
“Sumali ako sa mga tournament hanggang sa nabuo yung roster ng Geek Fam noong Season 4 though hindi ako kasama sa lineup kase kakasimula ko lang sa business ko kasama yung fiancee ko sa mall,” he recalled in an interview with Spin.ph. “Kaya medyo kailangan ng hands on.”
He added: “Tapos hindi ko gusto yung salary ng Geek Fam.”
While he was busy attending to his business, his pal Ynot led Geek Fam to a 5th-6th place finish in Season 4. That season likewise saw the demise of Cignal Ultra, who embarrassingly finished last in the regular season standings, forcing them to let go of their championship winning lineup and rebuild with a new roster.
Yeb becomes Coach Yeb
But even with a new look Cignal, the outcome was still disappointing. In Season 5, Cignal Ultra never made it to the regular season, as they were eliminated by Gosu. This gave Yeb the opening he needed to enter the esports scene. Even after the initial rejection, Ynot gave his friend a second chance.
“Ni-refer ako ni Ynot sa Cignal Ultra since naghahanap sila ng coach. Doon nag-start yung coaching career ko,” he said.
He admitted that this was his first time coaching in the Mobile Legends professional scene. But he never felt intimidated with the new challenge.
In fact, he cherished it.
“Yes, bago ako sa coaching, pero kapag may bago kang natutunan minsan mas exciting, diba?” Yeb went on. “Ang ginawa ko lang noon, nag-aaral ako sa coaching pati sa in-game, mga strats. So puro aral ako noon and share lang ako ng share sa players. Fi-fix ko lang yung problems nila tapos bubuo ako ng rotations.”
To ease the burden, he was blessed with a coachable squad, brimming with potential.
“Ang lakas ng mga players ko at sobrang cooperative sila. Kaya I think nag-work yung lineup na yun.”
These factors led to Cignal’s return to the MPL stage in Season 6, earning them a respectable 5th-8th finish. They nearly went to the next round of the playoffs, bowing to eventual 3rd place winners, Execration, in a grueling 5-game series.
From respectable start to nightmare run
But Yeb’s promising start in his coaching career soon took a tailspin. Prior to the beginning of Season 7, the team was forced to postpone their matches in Weeks 1 and 2 because of health concerns. The team was forced to play inside a hotel, with unfavorable conditions.
“Ang gusto ng Cignal i-facility kami. Isolated kami per person. Gets ko naman yung gusto ng Cignal — actually sobrang maganda yung hotel,” he explained. “Pero hindi kami nakapaglaro ng one month dahil sa isolation na yun. Hindi kami naka-home quarantine, so problema yung internet. Hindi rin kami nagkita-kita for one month.”
Due to their two-week absence, Cignal was forced to play four games in the succeeding two weeks. Yeb admitted that his preparations felt short due to the scheduling constraints.
In the end, his team suffered an embarrassing 0-13 record in Season 7. Amid the situation, Yeb admired the fighting spirit of his team. “First two weeks 0-8, pero hindi kami sumusuko. Kahit sobrang nahirapan kami never namin binigay yung laro kahit yung last game.”
Yet the negatives outweighed the positives as Cignal’s abysmal record turned Yeb into an object of ridicule. But instead of complaining and making excuses, Yeb assessed his shortcomings.
He said, “Yung record ko last season, well syempre hindi siya maganda. Pero hindi naapektuhan yung mindset ko. Syempre mature na ako eh. Tinatanong ko kung ano yung kulang ko last season.”
He knew his career was in danger. “Alam ko na bibitawan ako ni Cignal.”
Restarting with Onic
But as it turned out, teams were still interested.
“May mga teams na thankfully ki-nontact ako. Ki-nontact ako ng Onic. Grinab ko yung interview and thankfully nagustuhan nila ako,” he recalled.
To be honest, “Hindi ko nga alam kung ano yung nagustuhan nila sa akin e.”
As before, Yeb didn’t let himself get intimidated as he tried to climb out of the hole of his previous record. In fact, he owned up to it, all the way up to that fateful first meeting with Onic.
After introducing himself as the coach who led a winless Cignal, he then told his new team, “Sobrang tagal na ako sa esports. Thousands of players ang nakasama ko. Nakita ko kung ano yung ugali nila sa paglalaro. Iba yung experience na pwede kong ma-share sa team.”
He must have made quite an impression. Yeb became a respectable figure in the bootcamp, and under his leadership, Onic was able to regain their momentum, reminiscent of their performances in Seasons 4 and 5.
Their signature split-pushing and objective oriented gameplan has been a major problem for the opposition this season.
Yeb admitted that he never forced his team to play in that manner. In fact, he gives his team the freedom to decide on their strategies.
“Actually hindi namin pinilit na mapunta sa ganun klaseng playstyle,” he said. “Kapag kinakausap ko yung team, hindi ko sila pinipigilan pumatay or magteam-fight. Lagi ko sinasabi, ‘Ano yung best gawin sa sitwasyon na ito?’”
With the team synergizing really well, the signs are looking promising for Coach Yeb’s redemption arc and who knows — maybe we might see a miraculous reverse from 0-13 to a championship.
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