The Mobile Legends: Bang Bang pro player accrued a wealth of esports experience before joining Singapore's Notorious Villains.

To celebrate women who have contributed to the growth of esports and gaming in Southeast Asia, this series of profiles aim to tell the story of five women who have made a positive impact in their respective fields.

In the male-dominated esports world, it’s hard to avoid attention when you’re the only female player in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League - Malaysia/Singapore (MPL MY/SG) Season 5. Trying to stay unfazed by the spotlight on her, Tan “Qiann” Qian Lin wants to prove herself as a serious esports player during the prestigious tournament, which is currently put on hold amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She admitted that she didn’t expect to be an esports player, especially when she wasn’t a gamer roughly two years prior to picking up MLBB casually. 

Becoming a Legend

The 23-year-old event model discovered the mobile game in the last place you’re supposed to be playing games: during work … not that she was gaming, of course. She noticed her boss and colleague were playing MLBB and was curious about it. “‘What’s so fun about this game?’ I wondered. Next thing I knew, I downloaded and started playing it a lot,” Qiann recalled with a chuckle. 

How did she manage to learn how to play the MOBA game from scratch? The Singaporean acknowledged that two years of playing the game extensively was sufficient to understand the meta, not to mention that she’s close with a number of helpful professional players since the early days of MLBB. “I was a one-trick Saber player at the time, even managing to get into the game’s global ranking. This was when I met and grew close to the pro players of MLBB.” 

Trotting across the region

Look who met Team RRQ's Muhammad 'Lemon' Ikhsan at the MLBB Southeast Asia Cup (MSC) 2018?

With one foot in the esports scene, Qiann’s potential was apparent to quite a few interested parties. She was invited to be a member of Girlaxy - a local all-female esports team - before moving on to the Indonesian esports industry, joining esports giant Bigetron Esports. After streaming on Game.ly and Bigetron’s channel briefly, she began focusing on her event modelling daytime job and became less active in the MLBB scene, though she still played the game. But, fate had other plans for her.

Coincidentally, Qiann is friends of Xian and Swan of MLBB esports team Notorious Villains before MPL-MY/SG. They approached her to join the Kolia-lead team during a karaoke session, believing that Qiann has the potential to be the Marksman the team needs after playing several rounds of MLBB with her. “It came out of nowhere, because I wasn’t as active in the game as before,” she recalled. “But, since there was an opportunity for me, I took it.”

Reality isn't often disappointing

Having secured a prosperous opportunity, Qiann isn’t out of the woods just yet. Juggling between training and modelling can be a tough gig to handle - working up to 11 hours a day for months on end, she’d have to forsake her sleep so that she can make it for training, comprising ranked matches, lots of scrims and reviewing gameplay of other teams. “I don’t think we train as much as other teams due to personal responsibilities, but we’re working really hard to improve and present the best version of ourselves in the current meta.” She confesses that it can “honestly be rather pressurising,” feeling that she could do a lot more to help the team. With amazing teammates that have been showing her the ropes, it’s no wonder she wants to do her part so eagerly.

Alas, that same love and support doesn’t extend to every aspect of Qiann’s social circle. No stranger to hate comments from bad apples, the Marksman learned to grow thicker skin and filter through their noise to take in only constructive criticisms. It also helps that her fan base is awesome, crushing down her haters when she was streaming on Bigetron’s YouTube channel. Despite the aforementioned, “when you’ve proven yourself to be serious, like carrying your male teammates to victory, you realise that gender doesn’t matter.”

In Qiann’s opinion, things are already better in the esports scene, especially for MLBB. Citing the success of Indonesian all-female MLBB esports team, EVOS Ladies, it’s now more possible than before for female players to reach the top tier. Although toxicity is common, she feels that the community shouldn’t feed this unhealthy mindset and give helpful criticisms instead to make it a safe haven for everyone to join. “Never look down on people for trying.”

Fortunately, troublemakers are only a loud minority, but there are some actions that very few fans unknowingly do that are inappropriate to their gamer idol. “Some of their comments are along the lines of ‘I would leave my wife to be with Qiann,’ which feels excessive sometimes,” she admitted, adding that she normally treats this as their funny way of showing their support. “I think being encouraging and supportive to us would be the best way to show that they care.”

Regardless of gender, the road ahead would not be easy for those who wish to join the world of esports professionally. As someone who has been through this path, what does Qiann have to say for budding pro gamers? “Being a professional esports player is not easy,” she advised. “Take time for self-improvement instead of getting drowned by unnecessary hatred, and you will do just fine.”

The third Singaporean team is MPL debutants Siren Esports.

After the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League Season 5 (MPL-MY/SG S5) Singaporean qualifiers yesterday, three more teams joined defending champions EVOS SG to fly the Singapore flag during the Regular Season. Teams Notorious Villains, Resurgence and Siren Esports earned the right to compete for a share of the US$100,000 (RM415,000) prize pool.

Siren Esports was the first qualified team, having defeated Notorious Villains (NV) 2-1 in the first semi-final of the day. Despite consisting of players new to the competitive scene, they showed maturity and functioned like a well-oiled machine, executing their teamfights and strategies as a team. 

Overall, it was a poor showing from the Kolia-led NV. Hallucinates was their best player, and despite winning the first game, the team crumbled in the subsequent games due to a lack of teamwork. 

Siren Esports line-up includes Azura, ABCDE, a1a2, Babayaga, Ambuste and Jo.

The second semi-final saw a veteran Resurgence team defeat newcomers Osiris 2-0. The series proved relatively straightforward for last season's third-placed squad which underwent a major reshuffling.

Resurgence's line-up includes Kayzeepi (Resurgence's coach last season), Sana, MPL debutant XCP, and three members of Season 1's champions, IDNS SG, SynC, ly4ly4ly4 and Jason. These three have had mixed fortunes since winning the inaugural MPL title and stability has been a constant thorn in their side. If they can continue their qualifiers' form, they should stand a chance to stamp their mark on the league. 

In the final series of the day, Notorious Villains claimed a clean 2-0 victory over Osiris, with Hallucinates and Swan positively impacting the games with their Pharsa and Gatotkaca picks. 

Their experience proved the deciding factor, and despite some hurdles, Kolia, Xian, Swan and xmxmxm mark their MPL returns ins style. 

Notorious Villains' line-up includes Kolia, Qiann, xmxmxm, Hallucinates, Xian and Swan. 

The final list of MPL-MY/SG Season 5 teams are as follows:

The Regular Season is scheduled to begin in early March, stay tuned to the MLBB Facebook page for more updates. 

MPL-MY/SG Season 5 is organised by eGG Network.

Two Malaysian teams join the directly invited teams for the upcoming Regular Season.

Two teams stood victorious amongst 600 registered teams over the recently held Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League Season 5 (MPL-MY/SG S5) Malaysian qualifiers. Teams Orange Esports and Makan Cendol managed to qualify for the upcoming Regular Season, earning their stripes to compete for a prize pool of US$100,000 (RM415,000).

Orange Esports

Orange Esports’ roster includes Silo (MPL-MY/SG Season 2 Champion under Saiyan Reborn), Eren, Mom, Cakbu, Mal and Grengo. They are coached by HawkEye (formerly the manager of Saiyan Reborn during Season 2). 

Makan Cendol

Makan Cendol’s roster includes Artha, Raisyaa, Ax (MPL-MY/SG Season 2 Champion under Saiyan Reborn), SmoothJago and Cuckoo, all of whom were formerly of XPAX X-Assins in Seasons 3 and 4. Their squad welcomes MPL debutant Tacus.

More to come

The upcoming Regular Season will be graced by the following seven teams so far:

Do tune in to the Singapore qualifiers this 15 and 16 Feb, where three more teams will secure their spots in the upcoming Regular Season. The semi-finals and bronze match will be streamed live on Mobile Legends’ Facebook page.

MPL-MY/SG Season 5 is organised by eGG Network.

Silo makes a comeback and last Season's XPAX X-Assins return.

Today, we witnessed the finale of Season 5's Malaysian Qualifiers, with four teams (DarkHorse, Orange Esports, Makan Cendol, and Honey Juana Clan) showcasing their skills and battling to make it into the Regular Season.

However, only two triumphed after tough matches: Orange Esports, and Makan Cendol, and it wasn't easy. With a US$100,000 prize pool at stake, everyone fought with passion and hunger. 

Experience helped because interestingly, both winning teams have veterans in their line-ups, with Silo in Orange, and Artha, SmoothJago, Raisyaa, and Ax of Makan Cendol, all from last season's XPAX X-Assins.

DarkHorse (DARK) 1-2 Orange Esports (OE)

Surviving to the last day of the qualifiers, DarkHorses certainly lived up to their name. They're a new team in the MY/SG professional scene and this was their first introduction to the highest level of competitive play, having previously won various rookie tournaments. On the other hand, Orange is an established esports organisation, although their MLBB team is relatively new too - with the exception of Silo.

Silo was the former captain of Saiyan Reborn during their miraculous run in Season 2, bringing the underdog team from near-elimination to finally lift the trophy, beating EVOS Esports SG 3-1.

Saiyan Reborn defied all odds to win MPL-MY/SG Season 2.

Orange started well against DARK, taking an early lead in Game 1 and pressuring DARK non-stop to crush them in just nine minutes! It's safe to say Orange's Mal played a big role in this, dishing out huge amounts of damage on his Bruno and forcing DARK's players to back off, which gave his team room to take objectives without fear of retaliation.

Game 2 saw a reversal of fortunes, with DARK pulling off an impressive comeback after a long game. They managed to steal Lord, and even Mal's Bruno couldn't keep up with DARK's overall damage.

Moments before Orange Esports destroyed DarkHorses base in Game 3.

Still, Game 3 was where OE made their stand. Reversing the early lead from DARK, they pressed their advantage, not giving DARK any breathing room as Orange systematically disassembled every objective to gain an even bigger lead. After two seasons away from the professional scene, Silo, who left Saiyan Reborn post-Season 2, has finally returned to reclaim his glory.

Makan Cendol (MC) 2-1 Honey Juana Clan (HJC)

The other semi-final match was between Makan Cendol and Honey Juana Clan (HJC). HJC is a new team which lacked experience. Despite them battling tough and nail to get into the Regular Season, it was Makan Cendol, with four out of five players from Season 4's XPAX X-Assins, who used their professional experience to steamroll past HJC. To HJC's credit, they did manage to take one game off MC.

Game 1 started with an even series of back and forth skirmishes between the two teams, although Makan Cendol eventually pulled ahead and snowballed out of control. On the other hand, HJC showed heart and clawed their way to victory in Game 2. They demolished Makan Cendol's towers while hardly losing any of their own. Despite the ex-MPL players' valiant defence while not having any towers, HJC were simply unstoppable, marching their Hayabusa into Makan Cendol's base to set up a third game.

Makan Cendol's final Lord push overwhelmed Honey Juana Clan's defenses.

Unfortunately, the momentum swung back in Makan Cendol's favour in Game 3. HJC found themselves losing too much ground right from the start. Raisyaa's Pharsa was pivotal, acting as an artillery platform to siege HJC while avoiding retaliation himself, which created tremendous pressure on the newbies. HJC started making more and more mistakes, ultimately losing their window to turn the gold and experience deficit around, and were eliminated.

Orange and Makan Cendol join EVOS SG, Todak, Axis Esports, Geek Fam and Team Bosskurr in the Regular Season. The Singapore qualifiers will take place next week with three slots up for grabs.

MPL-MY/SG Season 5 is organised by eGG Network.

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