Amidst the pandemic situation, Mobile Legends Professional League Season 5 (MPL ID S5) has to hold their Playoffs online, without any offline event whatsoever. Even though I – like the other Indonesian esports Fans- have to feel the emptiness caused by the absence of festivity usually found in offline events, especially in an event with such magnitude of MPL Indonesia Final, it seems like the hype of MPL ID is still steadily high, or even getting higher.
According to Esports Charts, the “peak viewers” number of Grand Final MPL ID even reached 1 million viewers – a new record that has never been previously achieved. This is of course also thanks to the final match between two archnemesis in Mobile Legends Bang Bang (MLBB) esports scene: RRQ vs EVOS Esports.
The interesting fact is how the result was the exact opposite from last season’s Grand Final, because in this one RRQ took the victory home as the champion of MPL ID S5. The same match happened on the final bout of MPL ID S4, but EVOS excelled over their rival, bringing home the most prestigious MLBB Championship Trophy in Indonesia.
Aside from the difference of result, avid viewers of MLBB scene must also realize the big differences in the formation of EVOS Esports between S4 and S5.
Youth vs Senior
In S4, EVOS was still fronted by 3 seasoned players, namely Eko “Oura” Julianto, Yurino “Donkey” Putra, and Gustian “REKT”. The three players have been very well known in MLBB scene in Indonesia since its first season. They were also joined by two new players: Muhammad “Wann” Ridwan and Ihsan “Luminaire” Besari Kusudana.
On the contrary, in MPL Indonesia Season 5, REKT was the only senior player left in EVOS’ roster. This season, EVOS even fielded a player who played their first match in MPL ID in the last match, Raihan “Bajan” Delvino Ardy and Fahmi “Rexxy” Adam Alamsyah. Wann and Luminaire can be categorized as “veterans” because their name was already in the radar since Season 3, even though they just came under the spotlight on Season 4. But of course, they were still far less experienced than Oura and Donkey, or compared to the opposing side’s Lemon and LJ.
On the other side of the match, RRQ fielded their experienced players all the way to the end of the season. This season, RRQ became the victor thanks to the star-studded roster full of senior and seasoned players.
Muhammad “Lemon” Ikhsan and Joshua “LJ” Darmansyah have been well known as great players from their first season. They also officially joined the list of players with two MPL ID championship trophies. LJ was a part of TEAMnxl, the champion of Season 1, while Lemon also succeeded in bringing the trophy for RRQ in Season 2.
If we talk about players with more than one MPL championship, technically there are two more names: Afrindo “G” Valentino and Diky “TUTURU”. Unfortunately, Afrindo -who was part of the Season 1 Champion TEAMnxl- was never fielded even once in Season 4, despite being listed in EVOS’ roster. TUTURU, who was the Season 2 Champion with RRQ also has to stay in the bench during this season’s Playoffs.
Aside from LJ, TUTURU, and Lemon, Calvin “VYN” from RRQ is also an experienced player, who has been around since Season 2 of MPL ID – at that time with BOOM Jr. While the other player Rivaldi “R7” Fatah, despite a relatively short resume, has also collected “war experience” since Season 4. Previously, R7 was a well known player in Dota 2 scene in Indonesia.
M Zulkarnain “Wizzking” Zulkifli, who has to be benched by RRQ at the end of the season, also racked a whole bunch of valuable experience since his participation on Season 2 – previously known as Dugong from Saints Indo. This leaves Yesaya Omega “Xin” Armando Wowiling as the most junior member, having only surfaced on Season 3 of MPL ID with Star8.
Also, kudos to Mochammad “KB” Ryan Batistuta, who called himself “emelpedia” for providing me the information of the first appearances of the aforementioned players. Many, many thanks. I pray for you, so that you find your soulmate quickly. Hahahaha.
That’s why, the final match between EVOS and RRQ this time can be seen as the battle of “the youth” vs “the seniors”.
A lot of opinions said that RRQ’s final victory is largely thanks to the draft strategy in the fifth game, but I personally think there was a more fundamental reason: the experience of the players was the deciding factor between the two competitors.
Aside from considering how the ability to hatch strategy and draft are also parallel to experience, new players are also prone to tiny mistakes that they might not even realize, such as face-checking bush, not opening the area around objectives, or enjoying roaming alone a little bit too much, as what I observed the 2 new players from EVOS, Bajan and Rexxy, often did in the final match. Also, the final of MPL ID usually takes the format of Bo5, so a drafting mistake in one game is too shallow to be seen as the main reason of a loss from 5 games, in my two cents. Do remember that in Season 4 Evos defeated RRQ in a more convincing score: 3-1.
The formation of EVOS team this time can be seen as “scary”, seen by how they glided through to the final, defeating their opponents and proving themselves to be a worthy challenger. But RRQ is not a team that can be easily defeated, especially if we see the difference in experience, as I said before.
Clara “Mongstar” also agrees with me on this. “Winning experience played an important role (about RRQ clutching the championship of MPL ID S5). Said experience was what built the mentality and the teamwork. Their experience also proved useful for RRQ players to face and adapt any situation and condition that might arise in a game.”
Mongstar also added, “aside from individual skills which are above average, RRQ also showed that they are not hesitant to use strategies outside of Mobile Legends. Especially there is R7 with a tremendous amount of experience in Dota 2. RRQ demonstrated how they are the boldest team by daring to try something new in this season, paving their way to the championship.”
What is the Impact of RRQ’s title in MPL Indonesia Season 5 to the Ecosystem?
Will RRQ’s victory in MPL ID S5 show a more positive impact to Mobile Legends Bang Bang (MLBB) esport ecosystem? Why do I ask such question?
Because, if we see, some of the star players from previous seasons have disappeared from MLBB esports scene. Hansen “Spade” Meyerson, who was put in the same list as TUTURU and REKT as the greatest Marksman, is nowhere to be seen. Edward “Eiduart” Tjahyadikarta who was said to be one of the best team leader, is also gone from MPL – even though he made his own esports team, Siren Esports. Thong “Fabiens” Valentin Andara who was also a senior player with a great reputation in the first seasons of MPL ID has also been absent for the last seasons.
Also, we see how LJ is the only MPL ID S1 champion who is still under the shining spotlight in this season. Supriadi “Watt” Dwi Putra is still a good competitor of the season, even though he was previously demoted to MDL (which we can say as the second-tier championship) in the beginning of the season. Fadhil “Rave” Abdurrahman and Agung “Billy” Tribowo are both still in RRQ but for the second-tier team, RRQ Sena, in MDL. Afrindo Valentino who was the team leader of the Season 1 champion TEAMnxl, as I previously said, did not even play once in MPL ID Season 4, though listed in the roster of EVOS.
With the huge number of senior star players disappearing from the highest level of MLBB competition, despite only reaching their peak in the past 1-2 year, is the career journey to become MLBB Esports professional player is not suitable for a long run? If the new players can easily replace a more seasoned and experienced player, does it not indicate how a career is short-lived and not for the long run?
One of the easiest and most relevant examples with today’s condition is the career as a YouTuber. There is no guarantee for experienced players to not be overshadowed in terms of popularity by a player with less experience. But, Youtube is putting popularity as the heaviest component – which sometimes does not reflect the capacity and quality. A career as a pro player should not rely on popularity only, seeing how capacity and quality needs a lot experience and playing time.
That’s the reason why such argument lingered in my head. Fortunately, EVOS with their 3 senior star players emerged victorious in Season 4. The same can be seen from RRQ, who in this Season 5 also honed their players with more experience to clinch the championship. At least, we can say how experience and playing time in competitive stages are still a plus point for the players – as long as they can manage and capitalize it well, such as by keeping updated with the gameplay development or honing their skills.
“It (the argument of the impact of RRQ’s championship) makes sense,” said KB when I asked for his opinion. “Moreover, I feel the same. I’m no longer a caster, I’m an analyst now. Hahaha…” Add KB. “But I personally think that if RRQ lost, it will raise the question why were they unable to capitalize on their experiences, making them lose to newer players who are hungrier for victory.”
In one hand, even though the senior players should have more experience that they can give them the upper hand, the new players have something up their sleeves as well (aside from the individual skill, of course). Newer players might have fresher points of view and bigger ambitions. Imagine this, if Lemon and LJ didn’t win this time, they will keep their stature as a formidable opponent to their competitors and as an idol to their fans. But the new players who haven’t hold the MPL trophy even once, like Bajan, Rexxy, or the roster of Bigetron (who were great in Regular Season S5) should have a stronger drive to be the champion for the first time.
But, newer players can also be quickly satisfied. At least that’s what KB said when I asked him about the decline on Bigetron’s performance from Regular Season to Playoff.
“In the other hand, if the newer players won the championship, it can also be a good ‘push’ to the spirit of other new players to join a higher, more serious competitive stage. Right now, with this condition, it can be a mental test for the young players. They who possess good mentality, can be more driven to defeat their seniors.” KB said, concluding our Whatsapp discussion.
Then what about Mongstar? She also proposed a similar opinion to KB. She thinks that whoever won will bring a good impact to the ecosystem of MLBB esports. “Senior players winning, like RRQ did, means that experience is an important factor as long as you can capitalize on it. If newer players won, that can provide bigger motivation to other new players, because it shows how they share the same opportunity,” said Mongstar who has been around the esports ecosystem since the revival era of Dota 2 esports in Indonesia the past few years.
To close her statement, Mongstar also added that a competition that brings less than positive impact to the ecosystem is a competition that has a “ruling dynasty”. “As long as the title of the champion changes owner often like this MPL, I thnk it’s still positive.”
The ecosystem of MLBB sports is still very dynamic. Even though RRQ is the champion of this season, their roster formation is very different from the one in their first champion season in MPL ID S2.
That being said, it is going to be interesting to see the transfer market of the next MPL ID, and the battle in competitive stage. The last two seasons, the winning teams of Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL) are the teams with at least 3 formidable senior players. Is this going to be the case with the next MPL ID S6? Or will the wave of new players crash upon the championship and render them champions? Let’s wait and see.