If you’ve been around the Malaysian PUBG Mobile esports scene, you’re almost certainly familiar with who Yoodo Gank are. In the event that our dear reader isn’t, Yoodo Gank are, without a doubt, the top fan favourites in the country, with captain ManParang, fragger Fredo, Jumper, and Draxx as household names in the mobile battle royale scene (not forgetting new member iNaoki, who’s still earning his stripes).
However, today’s highlight isn’t about the champions of the PMPL SEA (PUBG Mobile Professional League Southeast Asia) Finals Season 1. We figured it’s time we turn the spotlight to the 23-year-old guardian/teacher of the star boys, who is none other than coach Agusalim “Hahagus” bin Amran.
You must be proud of your team for their recent performance in PMPL MY/SG Season 2. What other feelings were you having when they got second place?
Hahagus: Aside from a few rounds, the team and I were pretty satisfied with our result and performance. We actually weren’t too worried about placements in PMPL MY/SG Season 2, because we already qualified for PMPL SEA Finals Season 2 as the defending champions. More importantly, we wanted to focus on improving ourselves for the regional tournament and secure a spot for the PUBG Mobile Global Championship (PMGC) Season Zero.
Having said that, we still played PMPL MY/SG seriously and even took the advantage to do a lot of experiments, especially resolving the mistakes we made in PMWL (PUBG Mobile World League) Season Zero and improving our basics (e.g. circle reading, timing, rotation, communication, decision-making) to S-class levels. After PMPL MY/SG, I strongly believe that our new tactics will now work a lot better in the SEA Finals.
What were the obstacles that Yoodo Gank faced in PMWL 2020?
Hahagus: The biggest challenge was that other teams quickly understood our play style, knowing what decisions we wanted to make, our rotation and timing, and so on, not to mention that the meta changes every day. Our gameplay may have worked on a national and regional level, but on a global scale, there’s a bit more emphasis on who’s faster and who shoots better. Not that we can’t win, but we lack the experience fighting other big teams, especially those from India – they have their own system and their aggressiveness is on another level, to the point that they’re willing to get knocked down and take high risks.
Personally, I could correctly estimate Malaysian/Singaporean and SEA teams’ patterns, but I can’t fully comprehend global teams yet, especially Indian teams, so I probably need to use add maths to do so. (laughs)
What did you think of other competing teams of PMPL MY/SG S2? Who posed the most threat to Yoodo Gank, and why?
Hahagus: It was a very tight competition amongst teams in League Season. Even though everyone’s playstyle pretty much remained the same, they made up for it by improving their gameplay a lot. There were some teams I expected to do well in the Grand Finals, but I was surprised they ended up falling short, which were AXIS NRL MPX and J8 Esports.
The most dangerous team is obviously Team Secret, who are on the same level – maybe even more so – as us. Team SMG is also quite a unique team, having won League Season last split. Although they didn’t do well in the Finals after, they managed to be extremely consistent throughout this season.
How has iNaoki been fitting into the clique? What does he add to the team dynamic? Will he be playing in the PMPL SEA Finals Season 2?
Hahagus: For now, Naoki hasn’t had much time to train together with the others, aside from PMPL MY/SG, which was a good time for him to bond with them (he took over Manparang’s place in League Season when his wife was giving birth). Naoki was more of a rusher when he was with other teams like Geek Fam, but in Yoodo Gank, he became more of a multi-role player, switching between rusher and even support like Manparang.
Naoki would most likely not be playing in the PMPL SEA Finals, because it’s vital for us to get a slot in PMGC, not to mention that he hasn’t built enough chemistry within the team yet. Looking back on our main lineup, it took them a long time to get to where they are, so Naoki would need to train a bit more first before he can play in the big leagues.
PMPL MY/SG S2 is now in the past, and the next obstacle for Yoodo Gank is defending their PMPL SEA Finals championship title. Now that the stakes are higher, how would you be preparing the team for the regional tournament?
Hahagus: Our main objective is to fix everything that didn’t work out in PMPL, including communication, decision-making skills and critical thinking. We’ll also work on raising the survival skills of each player. At the end of the day, instead of defending our championship title, we’re prioritising to get a top 4 spot to enter PMGC and get better results while we’re at it.
What would you say is Yoodo Gank’s biggest weakness?
Hahagus: When we get too comfortable in-game. One example that this would happen is when we got the circle, and we wind up relaxing a bit too much before getting ambushed and shot down, causing our plans to fall apart. The best thing we can do is remind each other to not be overly-relaxed, remember our objectives, and take notes before playing to not make this mistake.
Anyway, enough about the team, let’s talk about you! When did you join Yoodo Gank as their coach? How did you get the opportunity to be the coach of this team?
Hahagus: I joined Yoodo Gank in January this year, which is actually my Plan B: to be a coach or analyst for PUBG Mobile. My Plan A is to be a professional PUBG PC player, but it fell apart after my former team (Redsea Esport) did badly in our last tournament. I remembered Plan B after that happened, so I contacted Kevin Wong (manager of Yoodo Gank) over the phone and asked him if he knew any openings for those roles. As luck would have it, Yoodo Gank needed someone to fill that position. I wasn’t sure if I was the right person for the role at first, but after talking to Kevin again in person, he assured me that I could contribute to the team, which is why I accepted his offer.
I still play PUBG PC competitively, this time in SEAGM.WULF, but I’m more of a substitute player and also a coach. My main responsibility is still coaching Yoodo Gank.
How would you describe your coaching style?
Hahagus: I would say mine is simple, geared more towards mastering the basics, which I believe is most important. This includes communication, how to enter the circle, and how to engage in team fights, which can all be taken to the next level – it’s a matter of how we refine them to be better players. I also focus on letting the players play to their strengths, and I’ll help out by adding on and improving them. The players of Yoodo Gank actually know a lot about the game already, so I let them concentrate on playing, while I do my part of spotting their mistakes and guiding them.
What’s your routine like? Aside from training the team, what else does your current role entail?
Hahagus: I stream PUBG Mobile or PUBG PC on my rest days. When there’s training, I will prepare the team’s practise schedule, set targets or objectives for the day, monitor their training, and so on. If I have extra time, I’ll look back on old gameplay footage and analyse them. Yoodo Gank is actually at a pretty high level already, so they don’t need stressful sessions; they only need to focus on things they can’t do, fix them and make it happen, as well as improve their strengths.
During tournaments, I encourage them to concentrate on enjoying the game and to let me take over the stress and worry over the strategies while giving them reminders. It’s best to not let them overthink, in case they get overwhelmed. Competition periods aren’t the time to find mistakes; instead, move on from what has happened and do better in the next games. Stay calm and steady, and they will make the right calls.
How do you feel about your coaching journey so far? What’s the hardest struggle you endured, and how did you overcome them? On the other hand, what’s the biggest highlight of your career so far?
Hahagus: I’m happier than before. As a coach, I’m a role model to everyone, so I have to be a good example. I admit that I wasn’t the most disciplined person before joining Yoodo Gank, but when I got this position, I started instilling discipline in myself so that the boys will follow suit. I’m like a teacher to them, but I’m also their guardian, to show love when they’re stressed out and to be understanding of their struggles.
The biggest obstacle we’ve been facing is advancing to the next level after reaching our highest current tier. We may be seen as a strong team, but we still think that it’s not enough. We’re always looking for ways to improve and do more than we thought possible, although levelling up is hard since it’s new territory and it’s out of our comfort zone. Regardless, we’ll keep figuring out how to progress.
For me, my brightest highlights are when I see the players playing super calmly when they’re fully enjoying the game. Even when we won the championship title for the PMPL SEA Finals, it wasn’t as big a deal for me as when they’re smiling, enjoying the moment. It’s a form of achievement for me, on a simpler, human level.
What does it take to be a good coach?
Hahagus: If you want to be a teacher or coach, what’s most important is to have good knowledge about what you want to teach/coach. It’s a bonus if you have experience because it would be easier for you to understand the situation and explain it better with facts and logic, which is better than teaching it based on imagination and assumptions.
Watch Yoodo Gank defend their championship title in the PMPL SEA Finals Season 2, from 23 – 25 October! Follow the official PUBG Mobile page for more updates on the tournament, and don’t forget to follow eGG Network too for more PUBG Mobile coverage.