SEM9 may be a new name in the Malaysian Free Fire esports scene, but their players are far from rookies. Boasting two years of experience in the field, the roster of SEM9 actually comprises the former soldier boys of AutoKnockout, the runner-ups of Free Fire MCP Majors Season 1 (Malaysia, Cambodia, and Philippines).

Right now, they’re competing in the Free Fire Malaysia Championship 2021 against other top Malaysian Free Fire teams, including their former organisation. However, there’s more than meets the eye behind the scenes.

Mohd Ridhwan "Mr. D" bin Kadar @ Kadir - Flanker
Muhd Faris "ZennOP" Bin Mohd Sharol - Rusher
Muhd Aiman Hariz "Shuraa" Bin Idris - Support
Muhammad Azman "NEWB" Bin Buyung -Fragger
Muhammad Fahmi Iskandar "Mirull" Bin Suhaizan - Support/Rusher

“We are rivals in-game, but outside of it, we are actually friends,” said captain Mohd. Ridhwan “Mr. D” Kadir, who doubles as an extremely popular Facebook Gaming Creator under the name D Entertainment. Despite the exit of Mr. D and his teammates, AutoKnockout 2.0 have proven to remain worthy adversaries to them and other competitors, conquering FFMC 2021 League Stage. Then again, SEM9 - with new player xNEWB on board - are close behind in second place with a mere six-point difference, so it’s going to be a tight competition in the Grand Finals.

Mr. D and his squad performed substantially well over the course of their Free Fire esports career, so it’s unsurprising that they were contacted by current SEM9 team manager and SEAGM (an international digital online game store) representative, Bryan Wong, for the opportunity to collaborate.

“We find that our goals are aligned and decide to join forces and chase our dreams together,” Bryan shared. “Everyone in the team is willing to go beyond their limits to win. They trained very hard for this, so I’m glad that the boys are finally getting the attention they deserve.”

There are currently two teams wearing the SEM9 badge, with the other team competing in League of Legends: Wild Rift esports, a little different from other organisations who usually start with PUBG Mobile or Mobile Legends: Bang Bang teams. Turns out it’s by chance that they’ve found these players, who are exceptionally driven and motivated in their respective games. “SEM9 haven’t found the right candidates for PUBG Mobile or MLBB yet, so if anyone is interested in joining us, feel free to message us on Facebook!”

But hey, we’re all about SEM9 Free Fire right now, especially when the FFMC 2021 Grand Finals is just around the corner. Mr. D expressed on behalf of his team the frustration they feel settling for second again in the League Stage, especially when the same scenario happened in MCP Majors Season 1, costing them a seat in the international Free Fire World Series 2021 in Singapore. “We just have to keep looking forward to the future. Besides, now that we’re under SEM9 with a new lineup, we’re more motivated than ever to score the championship title in the Grand Finals.”

Aside from league leaders AutoKnockout, another team that SEM9 has admiration for are Blacklist International. Despite missing a key member who couldn’t compete because he’s underage, “they are still a strong team that we can’t ignore. What we learned from them is that teamwork and team chemistry is one of the keys to winning.” 

SEM9 have been making full use of the two-week break after the FFMC 2021 League Stage to prepare for the Grand Finals. From studying the competition’s meta and their enemies’ rotation, you can bet your butt that SEM9 will be pulling out all the stops to dominate the Finals. Mr. D warned the opposing teams, “Don’t even think of entering the centre of the zone, because we’ll already be there waiting to end your career.”

Catch SEM9 in the Grand Finals of FFMC 2021, held 31 July at 1PM (GMT +8) LIVE on eGG Network TV, as well as Garena Free Fire Facebook and YouTube.

Don’t forget to follow SEM9 Free Fire on Facebook for more information on the team.

When you're up against top tier professional teams in a tournament like the Free Fire Malaysia, Cambodia, and Philippines (MCP) Majors Season 1, placing fourth and scoring the most BOOYAHs (eight) in the League Circuit calls for a celebration, which Malaysian gunners Steady Squad pulled off. Even so, they aren't resting on their laurels just yet, with the Grand Finals pitting the series' 12 best teams against each other for one last epic battle for the championship title.

"As the team leader, I feel very satisfied with our steady performance in MCP Majors Season 1 League Circuit," expressed Muhammad "Suaa" Solihin, who also streams himself playing Free Fire on his Facebook Gaming page. "However, there's still much room for improvement that we need to overcome for the Finals." As a solution, they've been training more often and studied their opponents' tactics to "further strengthen our team's strategy".

Founded in 2019, Suaa invited his friends to form Steady Squad and compete in Free Fire esports tournaments, taking into account that they weren't part of any teams and were equally interested to play Garena's mobile battle royale professionally. Though Steady Squad's experience as a team is lacking (they only properly established themselves last year), some of its members actually possess a wealth of experience in the local Free Fire electronic sports scene by competing in other squads prior to Steady Squad. "For me, I represented ICON ELITE in the Free Fire Malaysia Open (FFMO 2020) last year and got fifth place," Suaa recalled, adding that he also ranked third with the team in the Celcom Axiata Free Fire Tournament.

Knowing the talent and exposure they have together, now we can understand why they were offered by veterans AutoKnockOut (AKO) - another Free Fire professional team and recently-became-official esports organisation formed by Facebook Gaming streamer D Entertainment - to join their guild. With the support and amenities that AKO provides Steady Squad with, which includes a bona fide gaming house, Suaa can stream to his heart's content and have a proper training ground for him and the team.

With the assistance that AKO are supplying them, Steady Squad would need all the help they can get and bravery they can muster to topple the top 12 teams of MCP Majors Season 1, especially the AV Ligers team from the Philippines. "They always give their best and were hard to beat during League Circuit." Despite that, Steady Squad are preparing all they can to face them head on in the Finals. "We've already poured in all our efforts, so now we can only pray and trust that the championship is ours to win, InsyaAllah."

Here are the human firepowers that make up Steady Squad:

Muhammad "Suaa" Solihin - Support/Rusher/Captain
Muhammad Nor "Lemon" Firdaus - Rusher/IGL
Muhammad "Moon" Munawwir - Support
Mohamad "Axel" Azim - Support/Rusher
Muhd Faris "Shotz" Haikal - Support/Rusher

League Circuit leaderboard.

The MCP Majors Season 1 Grand Finals will pit the top 12 teams of League Circuit in a one-day all-out battle royale for their share of the US$34,100 prize pool, as well as the championship title that grants them access to the international Free Fire World Series (FFWS 2021) in April. The top 6 teams will also immediately qualify for MCP Majors Season 2.

Watch Steady Squad in action at the MCP Majors Grand Finals tomorrow (20 March), at 1PM (GMT +8) LIVE on Facebook and YouTube.

Despite placing 16th in last season's Free Fire Continental Series (FFCS 2020 Asia), AutoKnockOut are ready to bounce back to reclaim their glory in the current Free Fire Malaysia, Cambodia, and Philippines (MCP) Majors Season 1, especially when they've shown the potential to go far by finishing second in the regional Free Fire Tri-Nation Cup and represented Malaysia in the international FFCS 2020 tournament.

The Malaysian squad recently qualified for the MCP Majors Season 1 Grand Finals this Saturday (20 March), but their rank during League Circuit wasn't exactly what they envisioned. Nevertheless, AutoKnockOut are unwilling to cry over spilt milk and are keeping their eyes focused on the prize.

"We've already done our best and managed to be in the top seven of League Circuit," said captain Mohd. Ridhwan “Mr. D” Kadir, who also streams Free Fire on Facebook Gaming as D Entertainment. According to him, the MCP Majors have proven to be more challenging than before, with more players from Cambodia and the Philippines competing in the regional tournament that shakes up the norm. Plus, the duration for League Circuit was extended from four weeks to six weeks, turning into a marathon "that really worked to pick the best of the best" to compete in the series.

One such team is WEWS from the Philippines, who Mr. D pointed out as the toughest team that AutoKnockOut faced in the League Circuit. "We have the same rotation and dropping zones, so we end up fighting each other every time we drop," he said. "We'll be studying and probably changing our rotations in the Finals to avoid early-game fights and adapt to the new meta," so that they stand a better chance in the Grand Finals.

Speaking of new, Mr. D recently brought on board new member Yazid Azmin "Yaminn" Azfar as AutoKnockOut's newest support player. "We knew Yaminn from underground tournaments, and we saw his potential while he played," he explained. They decided to take him in to compete in MCP Majors, to help him reach his full potential. "He's done the best he could so far, since it's his first time joining a major tournament." Though former member Sadewa's absence from the team was apparent, it was good news to hear from Mr. D that he actually never left AutoKnockOut - he's now a manager for the team, and decided that Yaminn was worthy of his player slot.

It's been almost two years since AutoKnockOut was formed, and it was always Mr. D's intention to help nurture the growth of esports in Malaysia. Thus, AutoKnockOut is more than just a team - it's officially an esports organisation now, after Facebook Gaming registered it legally as a bona fide company. They currently have 12 teams under their guild, and interestingly enough, four of them - including the AutoKnockOut squad - were in the MCP Majors League Circuit: O Some, Legend Rumble and Steady Squad, with the latter also qualifying for the Finals. "Hopefully in the next season of MCP Majors, we'll have more teams from AutoKnockOut getting a spot in the Grand Finals."

AutoKnockOut's members include:

Mohd. Ridhwan “Mr. D” Kadir - IGL/Flanker
Muhammad Aiman "Shura" Hariz - Support
Muhammad Fahmi "Mirull" Iskandar - Rusher
Yazid Azmin "Yaminn" Azfar - Support
Rusher Muhammad "Zenn" Faris - Rusher

League Circuit leaderboard.

The MCP Majors Season 1 Grand Finals will pit the top 12 teams of League Circuit in a one-day all-out battle royale for their share of the US$34,100 prize pool, as well as the championship title that grants them access to the international Free Fire World Series (FFWS 2021) in April. The top 6 teams will also immediately qualify for MCP Majors Season 2.

Witness AutoKnockout in the MCP Majors Grand Finals tomorrow (20 March), at 1PM (GMT +8) LIVE on Facebook and YouTube.

The calm before the storm - Free Fire

If you’re a mobile gamer, you would have heard of Free Fire, the Battle Royale-style shooter from Garena. The game has been all the rage recently, especially with the Free Fire Continental Series tournament which will take place this weekend. Since we’re newbies to the game, we decided to give it a go to see how it stacks up against the most popular game in the genre - PUBG Mobile. Here are some of the differences we’ve noticed, and just to make sure our article was comprehensive enough, we spoke to some popular Facebook Gamers - D Entertainment and JanuaryAKG for their thoughts and input about the two games. While both games have similarities, they also feature significant differences that give them distinct experiences.

Free Fire is faster-paced

Free Fire Bermuda map

Games are shorter due to a number of factors, but it’s mostly due to the smaller maps and a maximum of 50 players. If you’re used to a long period of lull before the action starts, Free Fire will throw you for a loop. Most of the time the action will start when you hit the ground. Quickly scramble for weapons and ammo because it won’t be long before you encounter an enemy. Shorter games mean you can spend less time playing it, or you can play more matches in the same amount of time you spend gaming - this will be for you to decide! If you don’t enjoy the process of collecting weapons and traversing the map for many minutes only to be taken out by the first enemy you encounter, this shorter match duration is probably a bonus.

Free Fire has a lower barrier to entry

From the fact that the game can run on low-end phones to its difficulty, Free Fire is catered to a wider audience than PUBG Mobile. This means that some sacrifices had to be made - while Free Fire’s animation and graphics are acceptable, they aren’t as fluid or realistic as PUBG Mobile’s. Free Fire’s controls and level of customizability aren’t as deep as PUBG Mobile’s, but it shouldn’t be a factor for most people. However, you’ll have to get used to different controls and animations for actions such as sprinting or vaulting.

D Entertainment said, “for movement control, I think PUBG Mobile is much better because we can shoot enemies while jumping or falling, whereas you can’t in Free Fire. PUBG Mobile has better reflex movement controls like gyroscope controls and stunning animation that makes it look smoother. But, for Free Fire we also got some other tricks, like shooting then switching weapons or pressing two buttons at the same time, to straightly bypass default settings.”

He added, “if we talk about the main differences, it’ll be the game’s graphics. Both games are vastly successful in their own right and vary in both graphics and specialised gameplay techniques, like auto-aim and recoil control. Regardless, PUBG Mobile offers more realistic graphics, with better detailing in-game while Free Fire offers better physical behaviour with respect to characters. Thus, PUBG Mobile is more popular for high-end devices, while Free Fire is popular for low-end devices.”

Free Fire is also very easy to pick up but difficult to master. One of the first things we noticed is that moving your crosshair over enemies or shootable objects will turn your crosshair red. This makes it easier to identify targets to fire at - great for picking off enemies from a distance, or figuring out who to shoot in a messy skirmish. However, this means your enemies have access to the same crosshair. In PUBG Mobile, you have to rely on your own observation. 

Free Fire's crosshair turns red over enemies

Aim assist in Free Fire is also more effective than in PUBG Mobile. It also takes longer to down a target in Free Fire, which means you’ll gain the advantage during a gunfight if you shoot first since accuracy is highly compensated. “Taking down one target in Free Fire is harder than in PUBG Mobile. Personally, there have been a lot of moments when I wiped out a whole team in PUBG Mobile, but I can’t do the same thing in Free Fire,” admitted JanuaryAKG.

Characters and skins aren’t cosmetic-only

One of the biggest differences between the two games is that Free Fire’s characters and cosmetics aren’t just visual upgrades. Different characters you use will give you access to different abilities, and gun skins can actually boost the stats of a gun. While this might give the impression that the game is pay-to-win, your skills in the game are more important. Also, despite how powerful some weapons are, nothing beats slicing up your opponents with a Katana that can be easily found within the game!

JanuaryAKG puts this down as the biggest difference between the two games. “There’s even one overpowered character that activates an aura for 5 seconds where you’ll heal yourself and movement speed is boosted - very useful in combat. Skins can also be used in ranked mode, and even though some skins give a bigger advantage, it’s still possible for people without buffs to beat those with skins equipped. You can get Free Fire skins without paying but you’ll need to grind a lot and be patient.”

Free Fire plays differently

Free Fire has unique mechanics and items that require thought to use. “The Gloo Wall and Landmines are very advantageous to players and they support aggressive gameplay - compared to PUBG Mobile where players depend on smoke, trees or terrain to start a war,” says D Entertainment. “I enjoy playing both of them, both games have their own unique points. If you enjoy fast-paced and aggressive gameplay, you can try Free Fire. If you enjoy a more relaxed game with real-life strategy, you can try PUBG Mobile. As gamers we should not compare the games, as long as both games can give you happiness or help you to kill your free time, why not enjoy both of them?”

The playstyle between the two games also varies a lot. “PUBG Mobile emphasises on gun skills, whereas in Free Fire your reflex and strategies are more important. For example, you need to be fast when using Gloo Walls. Because they can provide protection immediately, Gloo Wall positioning is very important,” said JanuaryAKG. He added, “These are two totally different games, I actually like both - I don’t compare - I treat PUBG Mobile as a shooting game, I treat Free Fire as a strategy game.”

As you can see - both games are different in their own right and in the end, there is no better or “correct” game to play. As gamers, all we should do is enjoy whatever game we choose! Depending on your hardware and preferences, both games are viable options when it comes to Battle Royales on your mobile device. Since Free Fire and PUBG Mobile are free-to-play, there’s no reason to not give either one a shot. Sound off below about your favourite features in either game and tell us why.

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