Unraveling ECHO's Coach Tictac

Archie Reyes keeps ECHO’s house from burning. But that’s not to say there are no sparks. 
by Mario Alvaro Limos | Sep 15, 2023

Inside ECHO’s boot camp, the boys are having a rowdy session of whatever trips they find amusing. Even at 11 p.m., there is no lack of energy here: You could hear Yawi at the far end of the hall shouting something to his teammates. In the kitchen, Sanford is doing TikTok. In one of the desktops, Kurt is playing an FPS game, doing coms with Karl who is in the next room. James is in the dining area, talking to his family on the phone.

But when midnight strikes, the towering bulk of a man begins to marshal the boys into the living room. He switches off the lights, turns on the projector, and calls the gang.

“Oy, movie night!”

Everybody stops and takes their usual seats around the living room.

Coach Tictac plays a South Korean thriller film. Throughout the movie, the boys are still boisterous, trying to guess the plot while shouting in suspense.


PHOTO: Eugene Luciano

“I’m not a technical coach,” Reyes tells SPIN.ph. “More of tatay. Ginagabayan ko sila palagi, dinidisiplina.”

Archie Reyes, aka Coach Tictac, is ECHO’s head coach. In 2022, Reyes accepted the job offer of ECHO’s country manager Mitch Liwanag to be part of the team’s coaching staff. When Arcadia left ECHO for Indonesia’s RRQ one season later, Reyes was promoted to head coach.


Coach Trebor: ECHO's unsung hero

Mitch Liwanag: from hotel staff to badass boss of ECHO

The 42-year-old has been in love with games and esports ever since he was in high school.

“Binata pa lang ako, kasing-edad ko siguro mga players ngayon, nahilig na ako sa mga games. Napunta ako sa esports noong naglalaro na ako ng Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, 2017 iyon,” said Reyes.

He used to work in Japan, where he met his Filipino wife and made a family. But fate would pull him back to the Philippines, where he would carve a career out of esports. For over 14 years, Reyes has been living away from his family, who all reside in Japan.

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“Ang tagal na naming long-dinstance relationship! Ilang years na eh, panganay ko 14. So, 14 years nang ganoon yung buhay namin. Nasa Japan sila 14 years,” said Reyes. He was supposed to leave ECHO after one season to permanently live in Japan with his family, but esports kept him in the Philippines.

Coach Tictac of ECHO


“Matagal na kami nag-uusap nung family ko dapat aalis na ako papuntang Japan. Kasi mas malaking kita, diba? At saka isa pa, magkaasama kami doon. Pero, ang asawa ko, sobrang understanding niya, sasabihin ko, isang season pa, isang season pa, hanggang sa pang tatlong season ko na to, diba? Kasi, alam niya, masaya ako dito sa esports eh. Kumbaga, nagtatrabaho ako, but at the same time, masaya ako sa ginagawa ko.”

And as a testament to his love for the game, he named all of his dogs after Mobile Legends heroes: Miya, Angela, Bruno, Alpha, Odette, and ten other Shih Tzus he could not remember.

“Ang dami nila, eh! Hindi ko na maalala mga pangalan pero lahat sila characters sa Mobile Legends.”

'Takot kay Coach Tictac yung mga boys.'

His deep affection for dogs, particularly Shih Tzus, is just one of the many tender qualities of Reyes, who often has to be stern to the boys. Although he’s close to all of them, he makes sure boundaries are clear.


We asked Reyes about a tidbit of information that Mitch Liwanag told us about him: “Takot sa kanya yung mga boys.”

“Yes. Oo, totoo,” Reyes admits, his face suddenly serious.

“Marami kasing nangyayari sa amin din. Sa totoo lang. Nagbigay ako ng barrier sa kanila, kung hanggang saan lang ako magiging tropa, kung saan ako magiging tatay. Tapos, syempre trabaho pa rin.”

“Kailangan rin yung boundaries sa trabaho. Kasi may times na kapag masyado kang naging komportable sa isa’t isa, hindi ka na mag-grow.. Ganoon din sa players eh. Ganun yung na-apply ko sa players,” said Reyes.

When you're the head coach looking after 12 boys in a boot camp, of course, there would be times when something slips your radar. When that happens, the boys pay fines willingly. The fines go to a team fund, which they use to hang out and enjoy among themselves. One time, the fund reached P10,000, and they used it to eat at a Korean grill, a favorite hangout place of the boys.


“Sa una kasi sobrang hirap. Kasi siyempre, iba-iba ang mga bata. I mean, as head coach, kailangan mo isipin sila isa-isa, ano yung nasa feelings nila,” Reyes said. Many times, it’s not always about discipline but having a keen sense of empathy.

In the industry, esports players start working professionally at an early age, even before they get to college. For six days a week, they train every day for more than 10 hours, away from their loved ones for months on end. It can drive you crazy. That’s why Reyes also outlines activities for the boys apart from eating out: They would play basketball every day, they would work out, and have movie nights.

“Hindi talaga ko technical na coach. More on tatay. Ginagabayan ko sila lagi. Ano yung mga kailangan gawin, sino mga kakausapin. Tapos, araw-araw, gigisingin mo sila. Ipapaalala mo sa kanila yung oras. Tinuturuan ko rin silang magkaroon ng disiplina,” said Reyes.


“Kailangan yung disipina, magsisimula muna sa sarili nila. Kapag nakuha mo na yung disiplina sa sarili mo, eventually, maa-apply mo na sa game yun.”

“Pwede mo bang ikwento sa amin yung worst time na nagalit ka rito sa boot camp?” We teased Reyes.

“Maraming beses, eh! Anong level ba gusto mo?” He laughed. There was a time he accidentally broke a monitor out of frustration.

“Sobrang stressed ko at that time. Pressure na rin.” Looking embarrassed, Reyes laughs and slaps his forehead with his palm, while uttering “monitor.” He ended up paying for the damage.

Among the things that get the boys in trouble with Reyes is not sleeping on time. At ECHO, the grind starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m., with breaks at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The lights go out at 3 a.m. Or at least that’s what the rules say.

“Iyon yung sinasabi ko sa kanila palagi, syempre mayroon tayong sleeping pattern, kailangan meron tayong pahinga. Kaya, 3 a.m., wala na, closed lights na tayo.”


When Reyes is not supervising scrims or making sure the boys are asleep, he acts as their gym coach, training them with gym equipment in the garage.

“After ng scrim, nagsisimula na kami mag workout. Lahat sila, lalo na yung mga willing, sama-sama kami. Si Zaida, si James, minsan si Kurt, depende sa mood ni Kurt, sumasama,” said Reyes.

Coach Tictac and Coach Trebor of ECHO

Coach Tictac and Coach Trebor of ECHO


Coach Tictac on leadership: Be a model.

“Higit sa paggabay, dapat maging model ka,” Reyes explains. You can’t enforce something that you yourself cannot do. That’s why he wakes up earliest and strives to be a model of diligence and industriousness.

“Ang itinuturo namin sa boot camp, hindi lang puro laro, hindi lang puro technical. Itinuturo rin namin paano mamuhay nang tama araw-araw. Unang-una disipina. Kasi, may mga players na, para sa kanila, wala lang, okay lang ma-late. Disiplina talaga. Kung itinuturo ang disiplina sa eskwela, dapat ganoon din sa boot camp.”

‘Akala ng marami nanonood lang kami ng scrim.’

“Akala ng marami nanonood lang kami ng scrim. Hanggang doon lang nakikita nila. Pero yung mga sakripisyo… hindi nila nakikita,” Reyes said, reacting to the perception that coaches just watch srims and tell players how to strategize.

“Pero hindi nila alam, behind that, sobrang hirap ng pagiging coach. Unang-una, sa mga players, kailangan intindihin sila isa-isa. Doon pa lang, nag-adjust ka sa bawat isa. Iba-iba ugali nila, mahirap mag adjust. Hindi nakikita ng mga tao yung mga ganoong bagay.”


“Mahirap din yung pagdidisiplina sa mga bata. Lalo na sila may mga pangalan na sila.”

But all the sacrifices, patience, and hard work paid off when ECHO won the M4 World Championship. It was a journey they crawled on an unpaved road.

“Sobrang hirap…. sobrang hirap. Hindi namin inexpect na maging M4 World Champion. Pero yung daan namin papunta doon, sobrang hirap. Ang daming sakripisyo na nangyari. Ang daming sakripisyo naming ginawa.”

Alpha, the Shih Tzu, enters the room and yawps on Reyes to be carried. He picks up the pup and starts cuddling him.

“Hindi nila alam gaano kahirap maging coach, kung anong mga sakripisyo namin at ng buong team.”

There are many things that we’re certain Reyes had to keep private. It’s hard to be a parent, but it’s harder to be a parent to kids who are not your own. And Reyes is “tatay” to over 10 players, who are in their teens and early 20s. Imagine handling all those hormones, testosterone, angst, and anxiety, and still keeping your sanity.


Nevertheless, Archie Reyes keeps ECHO’s house from burning. But that’s not to say there are no sparks.

Coach Tictac

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PHOTO: Eugene Luciano
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