Professional esports athletes usually take the route of being coaches or analysts after retiring from the competitive scene. However, it was not the case for the grueling yet rewarding journey of Nexplay EVOS team manager Dale Lopez.
When Mobile Legends was only starting to build its community in the country in 2018, and the Music Hall of SM Mall of Asia was just enough to accommodate the hundreds of fans, Dale plunged into the uncertainty of professional gaming.
Building a name
Not known to many, he joined Obisidian Raven in the inaugural season of Mobile Legends Professional League Philippines alongside a familiar face in Jeff “S4gitnu” Subang. Unfortunately, OBS Raven only racked up five points in eight games during the Regular Season, which made them ineligible for the Playoffs.
After his first attempt to build a name in esports led to disappointment, Dale was forced to choose between his passion as a professional esports athlete and his responsibilities as a husband and father to two kids.
His dream of returning to the scene was also dealt a huge blow after a leg operation that took him six months to recover from. Days, weeks, and months passed by, and Dale found himself persevering to be a better player than he used to be.
“Sabi ko balang araw, itong mga nangyayari na ‘to, yung mga paglalaro ng mga player na ‘to, kami, may pupuntahan ‘to. Naniwala ako. ‘Yun yung pinaniwalaan ko talaga sa sarili ko,” he shared.
True enough, Dale met now-Echo team manager Mitch Liwanag and joined the No Limit squad which was then composed of future MPL-PH champions Christian “Rafflesia” Fajura, Kiel VJ “Kielvj” Hernandez, and Jaypee “Jaypee” Dela Cruz.
Fueled by their burning desire, No Limit braved through and survived the top amateur teams in the MPL-PH Season 3 open and main qualifiers. Dale had successfully set his comeback to the professional league after a season.
Heading to Season 3, MPL-PH giant Bren Esports acquired their roster which turn them into Bren No Limit. Dale’s return to the league was streets ahead compared to his debut season.
With Bren No Limit, he reached the MPL-PH Playoffs for the first time. However, after sweeping SGD Omega in the first round, Bren No Limit was eliminated by the defending champion, Cignal Ultra.
Inside the Aether House
Dale found himself back on the drawing board after the season until he met the famed Mobile Legends content creator Setsuna “Akosi Dogie” Ignacio, who took him under his wing and showed him that esports is more than just about competitive gaming.
Under the banner of the fabled Aether squad, Dale tried to revive his passion as a professional esports athlete. However, his dream of returning to the MPL-PH stage as a player was shut down multiple times as young Filipino talents have already started to emerge from the amateur scene.
All of these happened while he faced the fury of his mother due to his inability to provide for his own family.
With the encouragement of Akosi Dogie and Aether house mainstays Benedict “Nakilhead” Repaso and Maverick “Mavsyyy” Ignacio, Dale started streaming Mobile Legends on Facebook through the Aether page and eventually launched his page, which he named Emem Gaming.
“Noong pagdating ko kay Dogs, laking pasasalamat ko kasi ang daming nabigay na opportunities sa’kin,” he expressed.
Later on, Dale’s ability to handle esports talents would be discovered by Rumble Royale, a community that organizes events and manages esports personalities. He was then tasked with handling all esports talents inside the Aether bootcamp. However, coming from a player’s perspective, Dale had to learn the ins and outs of talent management.
“Nung una sa totoo lang, to be honest, akala ko hindi ko kaya. Tapos pinagisipan ko siya talaga nang mabuti. Sabi ko baka ito na yung dumarating sa’kin na blessing, ig-grab ko,” he recalled.
The Big Break
During the offseason heading to MPL-PH Season 8, Dale received the news that would take him back to the professional stage. He was offered to be the team manager of Nexplay EVOS.
With all the passion he has for esports and Mobile Legends, Dale accepted the job and has continuously handled celebrated names such as John Paul “H2wo” Salonga and Renejay “RENEJAY” Barcarse.
The story of Dale Lopez reminds us that no matter where we are, trusting the process will take us to where we want to be. But more importantly, for those who are aspiring to carve their name in the industry, there is more to esports than just competitive gaming.