Karl Gabriel "KarlTzy" Nepomuceno is relishing his status as a boy among men in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
At 15 years old, KarlTzy is the youngest member of Sibol's Mobile Legends: Bang Bang squad and the whole Philippines' national esports team. In spite of that, the teen helped the local representatives take care of business against Thailand with a draw in front of a home crowd at the Filoil Flying V Center on Monday night.
He told SPIN Life after the crucial series, "Masaya kasi nakakasabay ako sa mga edad na matatanda na sa'kin, tsaka bata pa lang ako nandito na agad ako."
To think that just like in the case of most young professional gamers, the Grade 9 student's parents were initially opposed to idea of him pursuing an esports career and only gave KarlTzy their blessing on one condition:
"Kaya nag-home school ako, kasi ayaw nila 'kong pahintuin ng pag-aaral. Payag sila basta hindi ko papabayaan 'yung school."
That decision turned out to be for the best, as he and teammates Jeniel "Haze" Bata-Anon, Angelo Kyle "Pheww" Arcangel, Allan Sancio "Lusty" Castromayor, Kenneth Jiane "Kenji" Villa, Carlito "Ribo" Jr., and Jason Rafael "Jay" Torculas have a chance to make history if they beat Vietnam later in the lower bracket semifinals.
He gave Sibol ML a grade of eight out of 10 for their performance so far, saying, "'Di pa namin nailalabas lahat eh."
They will need more of that masterful Game 2 execution than the failed opening match experiment versus Thailand, especially after their biggest rival, Indonesia swept Malaysia in the upper bracket finals.
"Sa international tournaments, laging PH tsaka Indo ang magkatapat. Na-3-0 namin sila nung finals ng test event, pero iba pa rin 'yung mismong SEA Games."