IT CAN'T be denied that Duane “Kelra” Pillas has a lot to prove this season.
After suffering from two MPL finals defeats — first in Season 7 against Blacklist International, and then again in Season 9 against RSG Philippines — the Filipino Savage is going berserk in Season 10.
Just look at what he did to TNC and Nexplay EVOS. With his Wanwan and Claude picks, he was able to mechanically outsmart his foes, turning the likes of Robee Bryan “Yasuwo” Pormocille and John Paul “H2wo” Salonga to dust, revealing his strategic prowess in teamfights.
But in his path to redemption, Kelra admitted that the burning pains of past failures have been a motivational force this season.
He even needed to burn the midnight oil to further hone his craft.
Gigil na si Kelra
“Mas gigil po ako ngayon kase pangalawang beses na akong nag-grand finals sa MPL, pero hindi namin makuha kase wala kaming disiplina,” said the Omega gold laner.
“Pero ngayon sa Season 10, lahat kami nagdisiplina na tapos nag-doble, triple effort sa paglalaro namin. Pagkatapos ng mga scrim, nag-a-RG ako hanggang alas kwatro tapos gigising ako nang 11, nag-a-RG ulit ako hanggang alas dos.”
The nonstop grind has indeed made Kelra into one of the most complete gold laners in the scene. Gone are the days when he would solely rely on his skill as Kelra’s decision making has now reached a perfectionist level.
Even Coach Jomie “Pakbet” Abalos realized the potential that Kelra brings with his intellect inside the Land of Dawn.
“Nakikita namin siya yung pinakabatak sa paglalaro ngayon," said Omega's mentor. "Bukod pa kay Raizen kase sabay sila maglaro minsan, si Kelra talaga yung pinakabatak sa amin kaya alam niya kung anong mga gagawin pagdating sa team e. Yung mga dating ginagawa sa amin, hindi na nila nagagawa kase alam na namin kung papaano i-counter. Parang napag-aralan na niya."
The Filipino Savage turned shotcaller
In fact, during the press conference, Kelra revealed what he learned during the Season 9 finals against RSG. During the series, the Raiders would constantly bombard the superstar gold laner, since he's been the center of Omega’s offense.
Kelra realized that he needed to conceal himself in every teamfight, which he applied this season, most notably on the opening day grudge match against RSG.
“Mas ginalingan ko yung positioning ko ngayon Season 10 kaya hindi na nila magagawa nila (RSG) sa akin yun,” said Kelra.
Given high IQ he displayed in the Land of Dawn, Kelra has further evolved his craft. Ideally the midlane or roamer would normally serve as the shotcaller, but Kelra decided to take more responsibility.
During the match against the Neo Tigers, both teams exchanged back-and-forth blows, which led to a long grindfest in the 20th minute until the 36th minute mark.
For Omega to win, Kelra had no choice but to use his experience and command the entire team.
“Nagste-step up ako e noong silang dalawa ni Kiel, pero si Kiel yung katulong ko sa pag-shotcall," explained Kelra. "Well, actually, lahat kami nagsa-shotcall pero nag-step up ako ng late game kasi ilang beses na naranasan yung late game. Tsaka alam ko na kung anong dapat gawin tsaka sa hindi dapat gawin.
"Pinapaalala ko sa kanila.”
For Coach Pakbet, he wants to see his prized superstar bring his leadership skills to the next level.
“Sana magtuloy-tuloy kase alam namin na maaasahan namin talaga siya pag may okasyon na shotcall kase minsan siya din yung nagko-call bukod kina Ch4knu at E2MAX.
"Alam niya kase kung papaano lumamang sa lane at paano kapag crucial na yung gagawin. Kasi madalas lamang lagi sa early yung kalaban sa amin kaya alam na siguro yung gagawin ni Kelra kapag early [game].”
With Kelra’s driven nature and tactical evolution in Season 10, there could be a strong case for him to win the MVP award — something he joked about during the press conference.
“Confident na mananalo kami pero hindi ako sure kung MVP.”