PHILIPPINES versus Indonesia has always been the defining rivalry in the MLBB stage. At this year's M4, the first clash between these two countries went in favor of the Pinoys, when ECHO PH bested RRQ Hoshi.
It was a matchup many were relishing. Karl “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno has a history with Indonesian teams since playing for Bren Esports, and seeing him locking horns against his Indonesian counterpart and fellow prodigy Albert “Alberttt” Iskandar was clearly a match highlight.
Then, of course, there were the next generation of players: RRQ's Schevenko David “Skylar” Tendean, as well as the ECHO's San-San tandem of Sanford “SanFord” Vinuya and Alston “Sanji” Pabico.
Then you had a coaches' battle between two close friends, Harold “Tictac” Reyes and Michael Angelo “Arcadia” Bocado.
One storyline, however, remained unresolved. Is Tristan “Yawi” Cabrera ready for the M4 with the controversy that exploded right at the start of the year? Unfortunately, the answer to that question remains a mystery as he didn’t play against RRQ.
Why was Yawi benched by ECHO PH?
Coach Tictac explained the reason for his absence.
“Yung pagka-bench kay Yawi, team decision...Sa amin wala naman problema. Diba may issue na nangyari? So wala, set aside namin. Lahat ng teammates naka-focus sa M4.”
With him out of battle, it was time for MPL legend, Jaypee “Jaypee” Dela Cruz, to step up. He barely saw competitive play in Season 10, and with a tall order of challenging RRQ and Indonesian legends Calvin “VYN,” Rivaldi “R7” Fatah, and Muhammad “Lemon” Ikhsan, Jaypee had to muster every ounce of willpower to carry his team.
During the match, Jaypee made one crucial error with his Khufra setup. But lucky for him, KarlTzy was able to snatch the Lord, and Jaypee redeemed his momentary bout of rustiness with his clutch play at the end that sealed the deal for ECHO PH.
While he may not have a lot of playing time, his overall experience was an asset.
“Dahil nakakuha ako ng experience sa worlds ng ML, so nadadala ko rin yung mga natutunan ko noong dati akong player sa Sunsparks tsaka hindi rin ako kinakabahan," said the veteran.
In his first World Series campaign back in M1, Jaypee was considered to be one of the most explosive players in the Philippines. Father Time has taken his toll on him, but Jaypee relishes the fact that he's once again in the M series spotlight.
“Masaya kase nakapaglaro ako dito sa Worlds. Sana mabigyan ako ng chance. Reserve player ako, talagang nagpra-praktis pa rin kami kase two teams kami, tapos noong nakapaglaro ako dito talagang proud ako kase minsan itong mangyari.”