He explains why players were dropped and the challenges the new team faces ahead of Season 5
Third time’s a charm – that was EVOS SG’s journey from perennial runners-up to MPL-MY/SG Season 4 champions. After suffering back-to-back grand final defeats to Malaysian opponents, they successfully ended their duck. This victory secured them a spot in the MLBB World Championship (M1) group stages, but that tournament turned out to be a disaster for the White Lions. They limped out of M1 after finishing third in their group, behind RRQ and VFM.
During the off-season after M1, EVOS SG dropped Ace and Potato, who was a crucial member since the team’s inception, and the grand final MVP of their Season 4 championship.
“We will always be grateful to our title-winning roster. They brought so much joy to the organisation and experiences that we will never forget, but as a team, we must always look forward and improve,” Matthew Chan, EVOS SG’s manager said.
The changes came quickly – only Soul, OhDeerBambi and JPL remained in the squad. The MPL defending champions brought Lun from Resurgence and Fossa from Notorious Villains. “Even though we won MPL, we still had problems and we used this off-season to try to fix them,” Matthew reflected.
Lun and Fossa are MPL veterans. The former has been competing in MPL in Season 2, helping his team to top four in every season since. Fossa made his debut in Season 3 with NARA Esports, which disbanded, and he later joined Notorious Villains. Matthew regards their background in different teams as ultimately beneficial. “Both players add new dynamics to the team; their experience, insights and fresh perspectives will be crucial for us to keep growing.”
Their final member, Pokemon, a newcomer to the competitive scene is expected to bring passion and hunger. Matthew revealed that the organisation discovered him Pokemon through its open try-outs, “his stats were insane!” He participated in a few local Singaporean tournaments, but never at the highest level. “We need to nurture him carefully and not rush him to play. We will give him time to grow and develop and hopefully later in the season, he will play an important role in our tournament run.”
Perhaps another surprising announcement in their roster reveal was Aeon’s move from captain of Resurgence to EVOS SG’s coach. Despite being new to the role, Matthew said that “Aeon has always been one of the strongest and most creative minds in the Singaporean MLBB scene.” The organisation realised the importance of a coach’s macro-perspective of the game, after Bjorn “Zeys” Ong led the squad to their first-ever MPL-MY/SG title. He also successfully coached EVOS Legends, their Indonesian counterparts, to the MPL-ID and M1 titles last year. “Aeon has big shoes to fill, but he’s working extremely hard to fit the bill. We’re confident that he has what it takes to help us defend our title.”
Top of Aeon’s priority to work out is the team’s issues on the international stage. Matthew attributes the organisation’s decision to shake-up their roster to this. “The main lesson we learned from being knocked out early at M1 was that motivation and drive are vital.” It might not be the most obvious explanation, but Matthew is adamant it’s one of the areas in which they fall behind compared to other regions. The Chinese proverb captures this well, learning and growth are akin to a boat going against the current – if there is no progression, then one is in a state of regression.
Matthew identified commitment as another major challenge for the organisation. “EVOS SG is actually a part-time team. Most of our players have other responsibilities like work and/or classes. This makes finding time to train an uphill task.” Their regular training routine primarily involves scrims against other teams and discussions about strategy, but the former MPL shout-caster is aware that in this regard, “we are already one step behind half of the league.”
Nevertheless, he speaks glowingly of squad’s attitude, “they basically sacrificed everything, having no life besides work (or studies) and MLBB.” That was the only way for them to stay competitive. “When we confirmed our line-up, the team gathered, and we were clear about everyone’s expectations for MPL S5.” As a unit, they are committed to one goal – winning, and they will move mountains to attain it.
Only four other squads were directly invited to Season 5, one less than the previous season. Matthew, who is Malaysian, says that the Malaysian invited teams all pose a serious threat. Todak’s player roster is completely unchanged, whereas Geek Fam brought back Artz, who was integral to their Season 3 title-winning run. “Bosskurr has Logan, Rush and 2ez4Jepv, all of whom are experienced. Additionally, Axis’ Loong and Rynn have proven pedigrees and with the SEA Games coach, Laphel, backing them, I’m expected another strong season from them.”
The MPL-MY/SG qualifiers will take place on 7-9 Feb (Malaysia) and 15-16 Feb (Singapore). Two Malaysian and three Singaporean slots are available. Find out who will join EVOS SG in the Regular Season. You can catch the broadcast live on MLBB’s Facebook page.
eGG Network is the organiser of MPL-MY/SG Season 5.