This has been the central theme in RSG’s campaign in Season 9. Back in Season 8, they were considered a team of outcasts or a band of "chop suey" pros consisting of fringe and rookie players.
But that no longer matters now, as they have officially brought their “Kingslayers” moniker to the next level as they took down Omega Esports in the grand finale of Season 9.
Each member contributed to their success. For the likes of Coach Brian “Panda” Lim, this was his time to finally silence the doubters who think that he was on a decline. For Dylan “Light” Catipon, it was finally time for him to prove that he is no longer the wasted up-and-coming prospect.
Then there’s Nathanael “Nathzz” Estrologo and Arvie “Aqua” Antonio.
Aqua proves that he is an elite level player
Aqua’s career has always placed him in the middle of the pack.
Though he did show some glimpses of potential in his debut back in Season 5, he wasn’t always the player that stood out. During his stint with Blacklist International, it was Reniel “HONDA BEAST” Encisa and even the likes of Kairi “Kairi” Rayosdelsol and Edward “Edward” Jay Dapadap that took the centerstage.
Then, he made a switch to Cignal Ultra, which proved to be a tumultuous moment in his career as the team finished dead last with a 0-13 record.
And now here he is with RSG PH, where he finally reached a breakthrough with an MVP nomination... and most importantly a championship ring.
“Para sa akin, simula noong nag-start ako ng ML, pangarap ko talaga ito eh," said Aqua in a post-match press conference. "So noong nag-start ako sa Blacklist lahat ng experience pinagdaanan ko, lahat ng role nilaro ko. Ngayon Season 9, sobrang saya ko po kase ngayon nakuha namin yung championship. Sobrang daming experience yung natutunan ko ngayon. Parang nailabas ko na yung potential."
And he couldn’t have accomplished everything without a lot of hard work.
“Totoo pala yung hard work. Lapag lalo mong sinipagan at ginalingan may patutunguhan ka. Kaya sobrang saya ko po, lalo na yung family ko at suporters namin,” he reflected.
Combining his grit with Coach Panda’s guidance, Aqua was finally able fulfill his dreams.
“Si Coach Panda yung para sa akin, kahit ano gawin ko, tiwala siya. Wala siyang negative insights sa akin. Sobrang laki ng trust niya sa akin kahit anong gawin ko sa laro, sa ginagawa ko sa bootcamp. Sobrang saya ko kase madami akong natutunan kay Coach Panda: experience, fundamentals, lahat na.”
He added: “Love na love ko si Coach Panda, natupad ko yung dream ko na makuha ng MPL championship.”
Nathzz shines in clutch situations
In Season 8, Nathzz was considered to be one of the most promising rookies in the scene. His overall mechanics and foundation were solid, and he displayed some impressive performances. However, there were some moments where he made some crucial errors at the endgame, which allowed the opposing team to bounce back.
In general, RSG's late game was their weak spot last season, and when Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa proved his stuff during the MPL: Invitational, Nathzz could have potentially lost his starting spot.
And then Season 9 came, and he proved that he is, without a doubt, a clutch factor in RSG’s campaign. In the finals, he capitalized on the chokepoints and aimed his sights on Duane “Kelra” Pillas.
And the rest was history as Nathzz won his championship and a finals MVP nod.
Such a momentous victory has given him the confidence to consider himself among the best EXP laners in the stage.
“Masaya nakabawi, dahil last season, average EXP laner lang [ako], ngayon feeling ko ako na malakas," he recounted.
But he demurred: "Though hindi ko pino-proclaim ako talaga, feeling ko lang iyon,”
However, that huge confidence boost means he's ready for any challenge. In fact, he specifically wanted to face two Indonesian legends: RRQ’s Rivaldi “R7” Fatah and Onic Esports’ Muhammad “Butss” Satrya Sanubari.
Omega Esports’ Renz Errol “Renzio” Cadua also admitted that he was impressed with Nathzz’s overall performances, while also joking about the reasons for his success.
“Si Nathzz po, kase nakakagawa siya ng clutch play (hunting Kelra). Magaling siya kase bata pa eh, hindi pa lumalaki yung daliri,” said the Omega EXP laner.
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