Sibol Dota 2 substitute player James Erice "Erice" Guerra has been on an emotional roller coaster the past couple of weeks.
More than a week before the 30th Southeast Asian Games, his mother team Cignal Ultra was defeated by TNC Predator in the SEA qualifier finals of the second Dota 2 Major.
They had been they were disconnected from the game due to internet issues.
Two days later, Cignal once again fell short of the last spot as regional representatives in the second Dota 2 Minor, this time against fellow Filipinos Carlo "Kuku" Palad and Marco Polo Luis "Raven" Fausto of Geek Fam.
What the 23-year-old didn't know then, though, was that he would soon become part of history as a member of the national team that beat a powerhouse Thailand squad in the inaugural esports medal competitions of SEA Games.
“Masaya ako kasi hindi naman kami dito Team Adroit or Team Cignal," Erice told SPIN Life after their come-from-behind win over the Thais, which assured the country of its second SEA Games esports gold medal. "'Yung hawak naming pangalan nung nanalo is Team Philippines."
He led Cignal in the Minor qualifiers as captain the day before the Dota 2 group stage began. Hours after the tough setback, it was back to business for Erice to assist Sibol. While he and teammate Van "Van" Manalaysay didn't get the chance to play in an actual game, the two still fulfilled their reserve role to the fullest.
"Hindi man kami naglaro sa run ng SEA Games, tumulong kami sa draft at discussion ng mga errors nila," Erice shared. "Kasi mas maganda kung isang buong team talaga ang maglalaro kaysa halu-halo pa kami. Ang tulong na lang namin is aalalayan na lang namin 'yung Adroit, lalo na sa meta ngayon na nagbago."
At least the two heartbreak losses helped him grow as a player and captain, according to Erice. He also noted that those defeats served as his fuel for their successful SEA Games campaign and Cignal's future tournaments.
“Hindi ko naman masyadong dinamdam 'yung nangyari sa'min dun sa Minor and Major. Kasi kung tutuusin, mas masaya ako kasi nakapag-finals na kami. Kumbaga alam ko sa sarili ko na next time kayang-kaya na naming pumasok. Babawi na lang kami. Ginawa ko na lang na motivation 'yung pagkatalo namin."