EVEN before the official announcement, there were rumors swirling around that ECHO PH would form a superteam featuring the likes of Frediemar “3MarTzy” Serafico, Karl “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno, and Tristan “Yawi” Cabrera.
Those rumors became true as the Orcas officially revealed a superstar-filled roster, headlined by the three aforementioned names earlier.
Then you have the return of MPL legend Ashley Marco “Killuash” Cruz and ECHO's talented core trio of Christian “Rafflesia” Fajura, Frederic Benedict “Bennyqt” Gonzales, and Jaymark Aaron “Hadess” Lazaro, and you have a Galactico-filled lineup, reminiscent of Real Madrid during the David Beckham era.
With a star-studded cast, this could finally be ECHO’s time to ascend from their mediocre performance in Season 8 to a championship run in Season 9.
But first, why did the team go to extreme lengths... even if forming so-called super teams could be a risky endeavor?
ECHO PH issues in Season 8
In an exclusive interview with Spin.ph, ECHO PH country manager Mitch Liwanag explained how ECHO PH ended up with a disappointing Season 8 run, despite a talented lineup featuring MPL champion Rafflesia, three sparkplugs in Hadess, Bennyqt, and Jankurt Russel “KurtTzy” Matira, and a promising rookie in Rion “Rk3” Kudo.
“Noong last season hindi maganda yung run namin. It felt like may parang kulang sa team namin sa chemistry,” she reflected.
She pointed out the team’s poor read of the battlefield and the lack of focus.
“Meron kaming times na kulang kami sa decision making na na-feel namin na kailangan na namin ng newblood sa team kase," explained Liwanag. "Minsan kase makikita mo na nagkakaroon sila ng lack of attention. Nagkaroon kami ng malaking problem last season.”
Thus came the idea of forming a “super team” — a term that Liwanag remains hesitant to use.
“So sabi ko kay boss, ‘Maybe kailangan natin bumuo ng super team,'" she recalls telling Aura CEO Christopher Djaja. "Actually hindi talaga super team kundi team na kayang tumapat dun sa malalakas na yun. Kase sa totoo lang malalakas yung mga players ngayon and also the teams.”
Assembling her own version of the Dream Team is a daunting task due to a lot of reasons centered on chemistry issues and compensation, but Liwanag and the rest of ECHO PH's management was determined to push through.
She was told, “Bigyan mo ako ng list of players na gusto niyong kunin then I’ll make it happen kahit imposible.”
And in order for this team to work, Liwanag needs to find out if the players that she’ll acquire were in good terms. Luckily for her, they were.
“Pero magkakasama na sila before namin nabuo yun. Kase mahirap talaga kumuha ng players kapag hindi sila magkakasundo,” she said. “For example mag-i-invest kami sa isang player na hindi niya pala gusto yung isang player. So mahirap bumuo ng chemistry.”
She added: “I reached out to other orgs and nagkakatotoo nga.”
Thus was formed ECHO PH’s newest roster.