The iconic #BrenLangMalakas battle cry has never rang more true.
What started as a save-the-day campaign for Bren Esports after being kicked down to the lower bracket by the Burmese Ghouls turned into a historic milestone as the Pinoy squad emerged on top of the 2020 Mobile Legends: Bang Bang M2 World Championship Sunday night at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.
What made victory even sweeter? The Burmese Ghouls were the same team that they faced off in the grand finals.
The reigning Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League - Philippines champions’ lower bracket run was anything but easy. They were pushed right to the edge of elimination twice: first, during their best-of-three series versus MPL-MY/SG champions Todak, then again while trying to avenge both the elimination of fellow Pinoy team Omega Esports and the drubbing they received at the hands of Indonesia's Alter Ego in a previous tilt.
They started off the final day strong, earning the “Indonesian Slayer” moniker after eliminating RRQ in the lower bracket finals. But their plans of revenge against Myanmar’s best required all games of the best-of-seven thriller.
Amidst their success in keeping the #LabanPinas dream alive up until the ultimate game of the grand finals, one name clearly was clearly heard around the world: Karl Gabriel “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno.
Center of the ML universe
KarlTzy, the Rising Star of SPIN.PH’s 2020 SOTY Awards, lived up to his formidable rep during the seven-day international meet.
In their constant fight to stay alive in the tournament, the wunderkind defined the essence of being a team's Carry player in the current metagame using three heroes: Harley, Claude, and of course, Lancelot.
Considering the responsibility that comes with being the highest player in farm priority, these heroes' innate mobility and burst damage capabilities allowed KarlTzy to play at his full potential while mitigating the risk involved with playing a banner team role.
As a player on the receiving end of the Funnel Strategy (a tactic that focuses on all map resources such as the Orange, Purple, and Gold buffs), dying even once can really hurt a team’s firepower. Even when ending up on the losing side of a team fight, every precious minute of survival lets a Carry split-push, minion-skip, or farm jungle creeps — buying teammates precious time.
Meanwhile, Bren's opponents took KarlTzy's hero mobility for granted, often settling for heroes that usually ran on sidelines like Wanwan, Hayabusa, Helcurt, or the out-of-meta Karrie.
While definitely qualified for the role, these heroes lack the ability to escape a team fight if worse comes to worst, unlike, say, KarlTzy's favored Lancelot whose entire arsenal revolves around mobility, or Harley and Claude's respective Space Escape and Battle Mirror Image abilities, both of which allow heroes to get in and out of a fight.
This drafting bottleneck, of course, wouldn’t have been possible if not for Coach Francis “Duckeyyy” Glindro’s genius. In most of Bren Esports games, better Carry picks such as Ling, Claude, Yi Sun-Shin, or Brody are mostly prioritized during the banning phase.
Ghoul and gold
But before KarlTzy could shine, Bren had to contend with the Burmese Ghoul's strategy to shut him down. Their vast hero pool allowed them to draft heroes who can invade Bren Esports' side of the jungle like Hilda, Natalia, or Diggie, which they usually pair with Yu Zhong.
Although these picks can do little to immobilize his heroes, the pressure they applied early in the game, when a Carry player is at its weakest, forced KarlTzy to spend his resources. This eventually leads to an early death, which dominos into delayed item timings or a level power spike.
When they lost to the Ghouls in the first round of the upper bracket, Bren Esports saw this invasion happened in both games. Their Tank, MayBe, who played Hilda in game one and Diggie in game two, initiated the plan by forcing KarlTzy to use his spells. When the 16-year-old player was finally cornered with his abilities on cooldown, Dee, on his Yu Zhong, would swoop in while on Black Dragon Form to deal the final blow. Bren Esports was forced to surrender the first Cryoturtle after these pickoffs, which eventually led to early deficits and eventual losses.
Bren Esports addressed this tactic in the Grand Finals by reserving two of their first three bans on Diggie and Natalia, two heroes with the greatest capability to invade the jungle. By eliminating the factors that hampered KarlTzy’s ability to shine, the Filipinos ultimately proved that they are the strongest team to have ever set foot in the Land of Dawn.
From scoring the tournament’s first-ever Savage to delivering a consistently stellar performance, KarlTzy was rightfully recognized as the Grand Finals MVP that came along with a $3,000 prize money. When asked about what the championship title means to him, the Filipino-child-prodigy-turned-best-player-in-the-world had this to say:
“Sobrang laki ng ibig-sabihin sa'kin kasi simula noong pumasok ako sa pro scene, gusto ko nang maging pinakamagaling sa buong mundo.”
More than the right to be crowned as the best MLBB team in the world, Bren Esports also bagged $140,000 in prize money, the lion’s share of the tournament’s $300,000 prize pool.