Captain Artha reflects on the team’s current red-hot form.
The players on Team SMG, formerly XPAX X-Assins have experienced their fair share of lows and disappointments. Captain, Artha, along with Kuku and Smooth made their MPL-MY/SG debuts in Season 3. Also in that squad was Season 2 champion Ax (formerly Jinn). In their past two seasons, they scraped into the Playoffs by the skin of their teeth, finishing 7th and 8th respectively in the past two Regular Seasons. At the Playoffs, they would tamely finish joint 7th/8th and one wouldn’t be faulted for writing them off as a perennial league punching bag.
“Never give up.” That’s the biggest lesson Mohammad Al Hatta, aka “Artha,” learnt from two seasons of falling short. “The past two seasons of MPL have helped us mature in terms of our individual gameplay, teamwork and mental strength,” he added.
That fortitude was tested throughout the 2019 competitive year because Smooth and Raisyaa (who joined in Season 4) had to prepare for their SPM (Malaysia’s national high school graduation exam). Artha revealed that their training time was therefore limited because they had to divide their time between academic and competitive MLBB commitments. Now that they’ve completed their studies, the squad’s focus has been on training, which has led to their current success.
That focus has paid dividends. Smooth currently leads the kills chart of MPL-MY/SG, racking up 62 kills in 9 games played and on average, deals 38.1% of the team’s total hero damage. Raisyaa, the team’s mid lane Mage/Assassin player, has also been instrumental in securing the team its position near the top of the standings after two weeks of Regular Season play.
Nevertheless, naysayers may be quick to point out that the teams SMG have faced aren’t the league’s strongest: Orange Esports Reborn, Team Bosskurr and Notorious Villains. But in the upcoming week 3 matches, they have a fiery trial against defending champions EVOS SG as well as Season 3 champions Geek Fam. Artha responds to the challenge with eagerness, saying “We’re ready to face both teams and will do our best. All the teams in MPL-MY/SG are strong, and we cannot underestimate anyone.”
Artha was also ebullient about Team SMG’s acquisition of the squad, “we were ecstatic!” The morale boost has certain seeped into their performance. As the league currently stands, they average the highest number of kills and assist per game at 24 and 45 respectively. The league average for both are currently 16 kills per game and 32 assists per game. However, one concern for the team is their tendency to overextend themselves and lose games tamely.
The team has found great success with Jawhead (71% win rate), also MPL-MY/SG’s most-picked hero. “Jawhead is flexible. He can be played both as a Support or a Fighter depending on the draft of a game.” Commenting on the state of the competitive scene, he also remarked that Flameshot, the Battle Spell that has dominated the first two weeks of MPL, is overpowered and ought to be nerfed, be it its cooldown or scaling damage.
Related: Flameshot is an issue.
Despite flying high, Artha says that his team’s feet are firmly rooted on the ground. There’s still a long way to go, but he remains positive and hopeful. He’s thankful for the support of those who have rooted for the team despite their mediocre results in the past two seasons. “I’d like to give a big shout-out to my family for supporting me! My siblings play MLBB and my parents have been pillars I’ve leant on when times were tough.”
Artha knows what it feels like to underperform and pleads with fans “Don’t be toxic when your favourite team is having a tough time during the Regular Season. It is at their lowest points when players need your encouragement.”
Team SMG next face EVOS SG on 14 Mar (Saturday) and Geek Fam on 15 Mar (Sunday). You can catch them live on MLBB’s Facebook page.
MPL-MY/SG is organised by eGG Network.