A Deep Dive with Stoo from Todak
Earlier this week we managed to catch up with Zairul Hazim Zailani or "Stoo", the offlaner of Todak was kind enough to spend some time with us ahead of the upcoming M2 Mobile Legends: Bang Bang World Championship. Since we weren't physically present, we had a video call to catch up with him virtually.
When the call started, I was greeted by Stoo's smiling face - he described to us the current situation. Due to the quarantine process, he and his teammates have been split up into different rooms - two per room. Since they can't physically meet, the players stay indoors to train while communicating over Discord.
It's not the worst of situations (especially since they're in a really nice hotel!) but he mentions that it got pretty boring not being able to be out and about. When the players aren't training, they're relaxing or watching movies.
I jumped straight to the elephant in the room - Todak's poor performance at the One Esports MPL Invitational - what happened there? The team had been eliminated by Geek Fam Indonesia in a quick 2-0 match. Stoo answered sincerely. He and Xray took a back seat for that tournament, while they brought in two players from their apprentice squad to play for the team. Stoo played the role of the analyst instead.
"We let Vins and Momo play because we wanted them to get more experience. They are good players but don't have a lot of experience when it comes to big tournaments. For MPLI, we decided to experiment with our line up and put them in the main roster instead. I won't comment on the management's decision to make the switch but overall we felt it was a good move as it gave them valuable experience. You can expect to see them again in the future!" explained Stoo.
As an analyst, Stoo went through his opponents' replays, to figure out their hero choices, playstyles, rotations, strategies and informed his team so they knew how to prepare accordingly. However, what happens during the match is out of his hands.
Regarding M2, he mentioned that it felt good to be at an offline event again, but it's not going to be the same as events in the past. "Without the crowd, it's going to have a different feel. And with the players playing in separate rooms, it will have a different kind of energy compared to two teams playing in the same area at the same time. It's almost like an online event. The lack of crowd will definitely ease the pressure a bit."
As for the team's preparation, he feels that they are on the right track since they're back to their MPL-MY/SG S6 winning lineup, they feel good about the tournament and will do their best to win it. The team hasn't figured the patch out yet, he confessed. "We're not sure why, even though the meta remains the same (hyper-carry centric), the game has changed quite a bit. Things like buff durations, turtle timings, have thrown us off a bit. We're still figuring out what we can do on this patch."
Since all the teams at M2 have arrived in Singapore, they've been scrimming together. I questioned him about the western teams that we should look out for at the tournament. He told me, "Brazil's team, Dreammax, is actually very strong and they shouldn't be underestimated. In fact, none of the teams playing at the team should be underestimated. They are all strong in their own ways. However, in terms of playstyle and drafts, I feel that Southeast Asia is the strongest in the current tournament." Stoo hopes to face Bren Esports in the tournament as he feels that they are a really strong team and play with a very different meta compared to Indonesia and Malaysia.
I asked him (for you readers out there) what his thoughts were on the best heroes to gain rank with were. He replied, "Brody. He is the most OP hero, easy to play and powerful. Esmerelda - she can be played as an offlaner, core or semi-tank. She's extremely hard to take out - teams have to commit at least 4 heroes to kill her, which is a waste of resources. Yu Zhong - his passive is really powerful. Hilda - she can combo with any hero very easily. And Natalia - she hurts a lot and can go invisible (great against uncoordinated teams)." So if you're planning to rank up, use this information wisely!
Because there's been an ongoing rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia since the beginning of time, I probed about the pressure of being the only Malaysian representatives at the tournament. "For some of us, yes, for others, no. Those who have a lot of experience in tournaments in the past don't really feel the pressure, but for people like me, who haven't been part of many tournaments, we can feel the pressure!"
Stoo shared with us his involvement in the Todak Academy project. For those of you who aren't aware, the organization launched a free online course in December for MLBB players looking to up their gameplay and their rank. He mentioned that he provided some general tips on how to play his role (offlane) properly. He doesn't have the exact number of signups but he was told that the project was a success.
When asked about what he would like to do after the pandemic was over, Stoo replied "I'd like to go home to spend time with my family and then bring them on holidays. Due to the pandemic, it hasn't been very easy to travel home to see them, and I miss them a lot. So definitely, I'd like to spend time with them."
Curious, I questioned him on what he would be doing if he wasn't playing MLBB professionally. He responded, "If I wasn't a pro MLBB player, I think I would go back to studies, or I would try to be an actor! I like the entertainment industry, so I'd be up for acting or modelling!" Not too far-fetched considering his charismatic personality and good looks.
Lastly, we got him to say some parting words to fans of Todak and himself, "To all my fans and fans of Todak, thank you for your support, and we'll try our best to win the tournament. To our families, thank you for praying for us. Without your support, we wouldn't have been able to get where we are. Without you guys, we are nothing. Please follow our Todak social media pages as well as the pages of our players (Stoo, Ciku, Eone, Moon, Xray, 4Meyz, Ashi), and keep us in your prayers!"
The M2 MLBB World Championship kicks off this coming Monday on eGG Network TV and Astro Arena, or on Facebook. Catch the action live, and remember to stay tuned to eGG Network for all the latest news and updates. Don't forget to check out our group stage predictions while you're at it! Good luck to Todak and all the teams competing, we look forward to some exciting games.