It was a hard road for the international champions but they still got there in the end.
Coming into the MPL PH S12, it was an easy bet to place AP.Bren and team captain Angelo “Pheww” Arcangel as first or second in the standings. With the closing of the regular season, it was almost a miracle that they got the second seed for playoffs.
AP.Bren’s regular season could be best summarized as rocky. From the very start, it wasn’t easy for the WEC Mobile Legends champions. After all, they did almost miss their first game of the season due to travel issues. Unfortunately for the team, their struggles would only continue to mount as the weeks went on. They secured second place but off the back of a lackluster 7-7 match score and the fumblings of some of the other MPL teams.
“Nagsimula nung natatalo-talo na kami, lalo na sa week three,” says Pheww as he reflected on the season. Week three was indeed devastating for AP.Bren as they went 0-3 in matches. Their earlier games were also looking rather spotty as the team struggled to close out wins against lower teams. “Doon pumasok yung ‘malakas ba kami? Bakit hindi kami makapalag sa kalaban? Bakit natatalo kami?’ Pumasok yun sa pagiisip namin tapos yun yung nagiging problema.”
It’s hard to imagine that the team that won the gold medal for Mobile Legends in the 2023 SEA Games would have confidence issues like this. But mentality is critical in the world of esports and once that breaks its effects are clear as day. “Nakalimutan namin as a team na kaya namin sumabay sa [ibang MPL teams], na malakas din kami,” says Pheww. “So ang nangyayari, sumosobra ang respeto sa kalaban tapos pag nabubugbog na kami natatakot kami maglaban.”
Playing Without Pressure
Building back a winning mentality takes time but it helps that Pheww and the rest of AP.Bren was already such a tight-knit group even before the MPL PH S12 started. “Mahalaga ang synergy sa amin kasi pag may isa na nag-dodoubt sa sarili nila, pilay pa rin yung team.”
Pheww says that the team always makes sure to do bonding activities together to ensure that their spirits remain high. Aside from their regular scrim blocks, the team would regularly work out together or play rounds of Magic Chess on Mobile Legends.
The breakthrough moment for them however was realizing that they don’t need to play with expectations on their shoulders. “Pag pasok ng second leg, isip namin na nothing to lose na kami, diba? Kasi dun kami talagang malakas.” Yes, AP.Bren are international champions but playing with the pressure to keep winning forever is unfeasible. The moment they realized that was the moment they could play their way. “Nawala yung takot, nawala yung pressure, kaya nailalabas namin ang laro namin.”
In the end, AP.Bren still had an expected finish for the regular season. Now that their mentality is back on track, let’s see how far that’ll take them in the postseason.
Banner photo by Moonton Games.