Winning both Regular Season and Grand Finals of the PUBG Mobile Professional League Malaysia/Singapore (PMPL MY/SG) Season 2 is nothing short of impressive, a feat pulled off by none other than the talented and tenacious Team Secret MY. Even with the loss of Biubiu, their previous captain; MADTOI, iShotz, Uhigh and Rex have proven themselves as forces to be reckoned with after their amazing performance in their last PUBG Mobile championship.
Beyond the four-man strong squad, lies a ragtag crew who played a hand in their success as well. With manager/caster OnTheGo’s apparent popularity in the local PUBG Mobile community, we figured that we should also shed some light to the latest addition of crew: 22-year-old coach Muhammad Farhan “JangS” bin Abdul Gafar.
How do you feel about your team’s performance in PMPL MY/SG Season 2? What other feelings were you having when they won first place twice in League Season and the Grand Finals, while defending their championship title?
JangS: I’m really proud of them, knowing that they were working so hard to defend the title in PMPL Season 2. With the change in format and points allocation, everyone had to do their homework and adapt and understand the new format.
In PMPL, Team Secret MY had great momentum during League Season when compared to the Finals, which is why I knew they were definitely going to win. League is like a marathon, you can’t run too fast or slow and have to keep the momentum going; whereas in the Finals, it’s a sprint, you need to know your competition and abuse their weakness and turn that into your advantage. I don’t believe in luck or miracles, but I assured the boys that all their efforts will definitely pay off.
Did the team do any experimentation during the tournament?
JangS: We didn’t really make a lot of changes or try anything new. We largely stuck to how we played in PMWL (PUBG Mobile World League) Season Zero and focused on fixing and reducing our mistakes in PMPL.
What did you think of other competing teams of PMPL MY/SG S2? Who posed the most threat to Team Secret, and why?
JangS: I think this season is more challenging than the last. The Malaysian teams really stepped up their game and played really well. I told my team to just focus on their gameplay because it’s my job to understand and analyse other team’s patterns.
Team SMG are an explosive team, even back when they were Bapak Ah Esports in Season 1. Once they get their momentum, they can shoot straight to the top, not to mention they have great mechanical skills (in terms of trading kills, how they approach fights, how they defend etc.). You simply can’t find one team that’s perfect in both offense and defense, but Team SMG seems to know both sides pretty well.
PMPL MY/SG S2 is now in the past, and the next obstacle for Team Secret is the PMPL SEA Finals Season 2. Now that the stakes are higher, how would you be preparing the team for the regional tournament?
JangS: Right now, we are just playing scrims, understanding the other teams playing in the SEA Finals and finding our drop spot. Now is the time for observing, so we’re working on finding their weaknesses, which we can then apply in the tournament. Training has largely been the same – if there are no scrims, we’ll watch previous tournaments, analyse and discuss.
What would you say is Team Secret’s biggest weakness, in terms of attitude, gameplay, or (jokingly) specific players?
JangS: I feel that as humans, no one is a perfect 10. Team Secret’s attitude is great, and so is our gameplay. But, one mistake that happens often, is when we’re pumped with adrenaline and we become overconfident with kills, which ends up punishing us sometimes when we overexpose ourselves. So, I would say our weakness is our mentality – if we overcome this, then I think we’ll be in perfect shape.
With the departure of BiuBiu, who has taken up the captain role now in Team Secret MY?
JangS: MADTOI is now the IGL (in-game leader). He has a lot of ideas, and after playing PUBG Mobile competitively for so long, he has earned the credibility to play with the timing, know how to approach the circle, and when to attack. He has a great skill set, as well as an insane game sense.
When did you join Team Secret MY as their coach? How do you feel about getting the opportunity to be the coach of this team?
JangS: I officially joined on my birthday 3 July (right before entering PMWL), which is why it’s the best birthday present ever for me. I’m really grateful for the offer, that’s the day when I feel like I’m getting somewhere in my esports career. All of us know Team Secret is an internationally recognised name in the industry, so I’m blessed to have come this far. I still wonder what OnTheGo sees in me, but I’ll ask him that next time. (laughs)
How long have you been a coach, and what other teams did you coach before this? Were you a professional player before this?
JangS: I was the coach of ESG Gaming for 3 months back in PMPL MY/SG Season 1. Plus my time with Team Secret, I’ve literally been coaching for 5 months in total now. I was a PUBG PC pro player before this for two years, playing for Geek Fam as the IGL (In Game Leader).
Why did you choose to pick up coaching? What’s your coaching style like?
JangS: I’m the kind of person who finds it easy to interact with people. When I was young, I used to have this ambition of becoming a lecturer, because I love teaching. With my experience in Geek Fam and PUBG tournaments, I thought it would be a good time to be a coach instead, especially with mobile esports on the rise in Malaysia. Plus, I love doing analysis work, something that coaches would do a lot of.
I treat my players like family. I always ask what their thoughts are, joke with them and discuss happily, with no pressure on anyone. We constantly try to boost each other’s morale. Sometimes when I have any personal problems, I even confide in my “other family”.
What’s your daily routine like as a coach? Aside from training the team, what else does your current role entail?
JangS: For the PMPL SEA Finals, I already found other players’ live streams. Even though I don’t know their language, I can see their point-of-view to understand their pattern and play style, to figure out what we can do when we face them and share my findings with the team. Sometimes I just hang out with them and eat food.
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?
JangS: It’s a challenging journey with a lot of ups and downs, depending on how you take those obstacles as your experiences and lessons. Whenever we lose, I always put the blame on myself before the players, but it’s okay, we all make mistakes sometimes. All in all, it’s been a fantastic journey. This team has helped me a lot in my personal growth, especially OnTheGo. He’s always checking in on me, giving me lots of advice. He may be a strict person to work with, but it’s only because he sees potential in us and wants to change us for the better.
The hardest part for me, is when I feel that we have done enough. Sometimes I feel like my team is invulnerable or perfect, which is like an egotistical thing to feel, but I remind myself that there’s always more that we can do to be better.
For my biggest highlight, personally, it’s being able to be a part of Team Secret. As a coach, it’s when we won both League Season and Finals of PMPL MY/SG Season 2, plus Uhigh getting the MVP title. But, I always believe there’s many more to come, so I’m always trying to create more highlights.
How would someone know if they should be a coach instead of an esports player? What are some of the traits that a good coach should possess?
JangS: First of all, you must love the game and have fun, but to further understand what I mean by “love”, it basically feels like a passion, a feeling of how you can’t live without the game. And to fall in love with it, you must want to understand how it works, even on a tournament level.
Also, some people might know the game very well, but they don’t know how to share their knowledge. If you can’t teach, it will not be easy being a teacher/coach. It’d be good if you know how to interact with people of different mentalities and mindsets, but that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker because I’m still learning to do that. At the end of the day, it depends on how willing you are to learn and be a good teacher. What’s most important, is to have the passion and attitude of wanting to help people a lot.
Watch Team Secret MY fight for the top in the PMPL SEA Finals Season 2, from tomorrow onwards (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.