Jamesss reflects on RRQ's remarkable journey to their second MPL Indonesia title
Failure is the mother of success.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and RRQ Hoshi’s journey from nearly men to becoming the first two-time MPL Indonesia champions was difficult, but ultimately proved deserved. This Season, they romped to a 11-3 match win-loss record during the regular season, only losing to Alter Ego (Week 2), Genflix Aerowolf (week 5) and EVOS Legends (week 6). At the Playoffs, they defeated EVOS Legends 3-2 to win the title.
After two back-to-back heart-breaking Grand Final defeats to arch rivals EVOS Legends in the MPL-ID Season 4 and the MLBB World Championship (M1), RRQ were low in confidence. Their coach, James “Jamesss” Chen, revealed that despite their impressive resume, team spirit was lacking before Season 5 started.
However, after their opening week 2-0 victory over EVOS Legends, they began to find their footing. “We executed the strategies for which we trained, and gradually, the team started to believe in themselves.” In many ways, his own tortuous esports journey parallels RRQ’s road back to their throne.
Who is Jamesss?
Jamesss, though previously not a household name, is no stranger to the Indonesian esports scene. Back in Season 2, he was plying his trade with ONIC Esports and playing alongside Nashrudin “Fenrir” Kamsani – a fellow Singaporean. The team performed well, topping the standings during the Regular Season. During the Playoffs, they came in third, after losing 2-1 to EVOS in the lower bracket final.
His respectable performance opened the door for him to join RRQ in Season 3. However, due to language barrier and other internal issues, it didn't work out. RRQ crashed out of the Playoffs in 7th/8th place – a far cry from their Season 2 title winning run. “In short, it was a disaster. After that experience, I didn't want to stay in Indonesia because I didn’t have a purpose.” He returned to Singapore with the future of his professional career up in the air.
It was then that Fenrir invited Jamesss to join his team, Notorious Villains, and give MPL-MY/SG a shot. “The results were also terrible for us, but I took it well.” Notorious Villains finished a respectable 5th/6th. As M1 approached, Jamesss was invited to coach Team Gosu, the USA representative. Despite only having three days of boot camp before the tournament began, Jamesss realised his proclivity for analysing and strategising.
Unfortunately, Team Gosu were also eliminated from the tournament at the Group Stage, finishing third in Group B. Nevertheless, despite his streak of losses, Jamesss picked up valuable coaching skills which did not go unnoticed.
Returning to RRQ
The Indonesian teams dominated M1, and fans were treated to a thrilling grand final between EVOS Legends and RRQ which went all the way to seven games! However, RRQ once again tasted bitter defeat. However, perhaps only a footnote in the news cycle covering the post-M1 roster changes, RRQ asked Jamesss to re-join the team as their new coach. “I saw potential in the team and I knew Lemon, Vyn, R7 and Tuturu. I decided to pack my bags once more.”
We wouldn’t be far off to say that RRQ’s season was almost decided from their opening week’s performance. Despite harbouring self-doubt, they overcame EVOS Legends and Geek Fam 2-0 each, and from there, they went from strength-to-strength. They experienced hiccups along the way but as the season progressed, there was a feeling of inevitability that it could be RRQ’s return to the apex.
The Royals Reign
At the Playoffs, RRQ’s first hurdle was ONIC Esports, but they dispatched them swiftly in two games, setting up an upper bracket date with EVOS Legends which they won 2-1 despite losing the first game.
Before the grand final, Jamesss said that the team was confident. The ghosts of past failures no longer haunted the team. “I told the team to relax and reminded them to always enjoy the game. We kept telling ourselves that we can face anything.” Their just-do-it attitude of taking the games one at a time gave them the mental fortitude to come out on top in this battle of mechanical skills and of wits.
Jamesss further revealed that last season was R7’s first time on stage and he was nervous – especially when playing against EVOS’ Oura. “We learnt from our mistakes and overcame obstacles as a team.”
As Jamesss reflected on the grand final games, he shared that Game 4 was the hardest for the team. Leading the series 2-1, winning this game would have given RRQ the title. “The players were feeling good and assured. We didn’t think that much about the score. For us, it was just another best of one.” During the drafting phase of the game, with the popular hyper carries banned, and RRQ picking the remaining viable Marksman, EVOS were setting themselves up for a Harith pick by banning RRQ’s Hayabusa.
“We expected Harith but not Esmeralda. As a result, our early game was a disaster. However, we could have stabilised and won the late game. Unfortunately, Xin made a wrong move on his Granger. He wanted to use his first skill, pressed the second instead. That meant that he dived into EVOS’ arms as they were charging into our base.”
Throughout the series, Jamesss’ calculated approach to identifying EVOS’ weak spots was a key ingredient to their success. In Game 1, RRQ drafted both Minsitthar and Kagura. Jamesss cheekily shared that they were flamed by netizens when they picked Kagura in the Regular Season, but he believed that she had the power to burst down a player – perfect in a hyper carry meta.
In Game 3, they left Natalia open and picked Terizla – the first of the tournament! “Carmilla was our main Tank, with Terizla as the secondary Tank. We know that EVOS focuses on objectives. So our game plan was to deny them towers. That way, they can’t snowball.”
In Game 5, EVOS left Selena open and RRQ snapped her up as their first pick. “We did guess that EVOS would leave Selena and Uranus open. Admittedly we don’t practise Selena much because she’s banned in almost every game, but we still train her and were prepared for the day she slips through the bans.”
Related: RRQ Hoshi win MPL Indonesia Season 5.
Jamesss talks about strategy with an uncanny enthusiasm. For him, MLBB is not a “simple” game. “I’ve always like to read gameplay but there weren’t coaches in the early days of the competitive scene. Over time, I’ve found that it suits me more than being a player.” He humbly admits that his mechanical skills, such as quick reactions or micro skills, are only average but he enjoys thinking.
“I like to observe and analyse people. In fact, I’d say that if someone just plays the game without truly studying it, they won’t learn much. They will reach a certain point and won’t grow beyond that.”
Curiosity is in his blood, and he is never afraid to experiment. RRQ proved to be the most versatile team of MPL Indonesia Season 5 as they regularly picked off-meta heroes like Minsitthar, Faramis, even Terizla, and played them well. “If you never try, you will never know the outcome.”
This dauntless spirit which brought Jamesss back to Indonesia to revive a demoralised squad has been infectious. Having reclaimed the local title, the Royals now have their sights on conquering Southeast Asia in the upcoming Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Southeast Asia Cup (MSC 2020).