IT WAS A new journey and a new beginning for Coach John Michael “Zico” Dizon the moment he decided to leave his comfort zone and travel to Cambodia.
Once settled into Burn X Flash, Coach Zico was able to prove his worth, spearheading their MPL-Cambodia championship and leading them into their M4 World Championship berth.
He silenced his doubters and brought pride to Cambodia, as highlighted in Burn X Flash’s M4 hype video.
In that video, he and fellow Filipino Jhonwin “Hesa” Vergara were practicing bokator, the ancient martial art of the Khmer.
“Para sa akin masaya kase na-experience ko yung culture nila dito, and ayun, sobrang grateful din ako kasi naranasan ko ito. Ang laki kase ng pagkakaiba ng culture dito sa Pilipinas," said Zico.
Is he also picking up a new martial art? "First time kong gawin yun. Sobrang sarap sa pakiramdam na may matutunan ka na bago and galing pa sa ibang culture."
In the same video, Zico can be seen wearing the country’s national outfit, something that made him proud.
“Natuwa din ako sa national costume nila parang yung barong sa atin sa Pilipinas. Noong sinuot ko yun sobrang nagandahan kasi ang bongga niyang tingnan [and] ang gara din tingnan."
Added Nexplay EVOS' former mentor: "Tapos parang ibang klase siya, nagmumukha kang mayaman.”
But it wasn’t just only the apparel and their martial arts that impressed the Filipino coach. He was impressed by the entire Cambodian community.
“Dito generous yung mga tao dito and sobrang friendly nila, parang kahit hindi mo sila kilala personally, sila yung unang a-approach sa iyo. Kaya habang tumatagal, mas lalo kaming nagiging komportable kami ni Hesa. Kasi nga, wala kaming problema sa mga tao, sa mga kasama namin dito, sobrang bait nila dito and masarap silang kasama.”
With how warmly they've been embraced, both Coach Zico and Hesa will definitely aim to make the Khmer people proud.
Zico challenges the titans
The odds are stacked against them in the group stages, with Burn X Flash facing two notable powerhouses: defending world champions, Blacklist International, and the dark horses from Myanmar, Falcon Esports.
Zico says, however, that his team is hyped for the challenge.
“Actually, we were very surprised sa draw. Kaya sobrang excited kami na makaharap sila para ipakita yung pinaghandaan namin para sa kanila kase hindi natin masasabi if kaya ba namin and if mananalo kami, pero gagawin namin yung best namin para makuha yung upper bracket.”
Indeed, Burn X Flash are viewed as a potential wild card in this tournament, but they’re hoping to make a deep push in the upcoming M4 World Championship. During the press conference kicking off their world championship campaign, Kunn “Arishem” Chankakada said that he wished to see his team follow Lionel Messi’s storyline of finally reaching the most prestigious trophy.