Bren Esports defeated Burmese Ghouls in a seven-game epic in the grand finals of the M2 World Championship to be crowned as the new world champions for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) on Sunday (24 January).
After reigning over the game’s pro scene in the Philippines, they now stand atop the world — but the road to becoming world champions was far from easy for Bren Esports.
“I feel really happy with this win because we really prepared hard for this. We had to sacrifice a lot and we had to go through a lot just to get this,” said Bren Esports marksman player David “FlapTzy” Canon in an interview following the finals.
Bren Esports had to take arguably the hardest road to the championship. The team had a strong start in M2, riding high into the playoffs as one of the tournament favourites after they soundly defeated Indonesian rivals Alter Ego in day two of the group stage.
However, Bren Esports crashed back down to earth after Burmese Ghouls swept them in their first meeting at the first round of the playoffs’ upper bracket. They were dropped to the lower bracket and still had a chance at the championship, but the odds against them seemed too great at the time.
In the heated fifth day of competition at M2, Bren Esports took down MPL MY/SG champions Todak then prevailed over Alter Ego a second time to survive to the final day of the tournament.
Both of those series ended up being 2-1 reverse sweeps, or the ‘Bren Esports special’ as their Filipino fans would often say.
The team would use the first game to feel out their opponents, gladly taking a loss just so they could ‘download’ their strategies, then strike back, win the next two games, and ultimately claim victory in the match.
While such a strategy has largely proven effective for Bren Esports, it is also physically and mentally taxing for the players — especially in the lower bracket of the biggest stage in MLBB. Should they make one mistake or succumb to pressure and fatigue, then all their efforts would be for naught.
By the time Bren Esports were able to raise the trophy and claim the mantle of world champions, the relief and exhaustion in their faces was evident even through the face masks they wore due to the health and safety precautions in place for M2.
After all, they had to go through a four-game series against last year’s finalists, MPL ID champions RRQ Hoshi, in the lower bracket finals and then overcome Burmese Ghouls in a seven-game slugfest.
“This was a really long and hard day for us. First of all, we finished late last night and we didn’t get enough sleep because we had to start early today for the lower bracket finals. But luckily we were able to get some rest after that so we were still prepared coming into the grand finals,” said Bren Esports’ captain Angelo Kyle “Pheww” Arcangel.
Despite all the hardship, everything that Bren Esports had to go through just to get to the grand finals of M2 only helped them prepare for the ultimate challenge.
“After our first loss to Burmese Ghouls in the Upper Bracket, we accepted the fact that we became complacent. So when they punished us for that we really really started to respect them as a strong team, which got us to really prepare for them in the grand finals,” said Pheww.
Only Bren Esports themselves would know how truly prepared for what they had to go through in their seven-game battle against Burmese Ghouls.
After Bren took a commanding 2-0 series lead, Burmese Ghouls turned the tables on the Filipino squad and defeated them in the next three games.
A reverse sweep seemed all but inevitable, and Bren Esports looked like they would get a taste of their own medicine. Much like their first meeting, Burmese Ghouls stunned Bren Esports and brought them back down to earth.
For Bren Esports tank player Allan “Lusty” Castromayor, the hardest game of the series was game three, when things seemingly started to fall apart for the team.
At that point in the series, Bren’s flashy and high-risk, high-reward playstyle seemed like a car crashing into the brick wall that was Burmese Ghouls’ slower, more-measured play.
“The toughest part about playing against Burmese Ghouls was how we had to draft against them. Our drafts were repetitive so we had to change some things and really step up to win,” said FlapTzy.
“Since our drafts were repetitive in the first five games, we changed it up so they couldn’t really predict what we were going to do,” added Pheww.
It worked. Bren Esports somehow won an intense game six to force the finals to a deciding game seven. Before letting his team take on what could very well be the biggest game of their lives, Bren Esports coach Francis “Duckey” Glindro reminded his players why they came to M2 in the first place.
“I asked them, “Do you want to prove that we’re not just the strongest team in the Philippines?” and they all said out loud, “Yeah!” said Duckey.
“Then I said, “Prove it. We have to win this last game.”
And so they did. In true Bren Esports fashion, the team put everything on the line in one decisive clash around the 12-minute mark of game seven:
That clash could have gone either way. But Bren Esports found an opening in what was Burmese Ghouls’ usually impenetrable defences, dived in and emerged as champions.
“We weren’t afraid of whatever the outcome would be and it ended up being worth it,” said Pheww.
“What we basically did was just gamble and gamble until it paid off and we won,” added FlapTzy.
It was Bren Esports marksman and star player Karl Gabriel “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno who gambled on a key pickoff that tipped the scales in his team’s favour in that championship-clinching clash.
The 17-year old prodigy has been the key to so many of his team’s victories, including multiple high-stakes games in M2.
KarlTzy’s excellence throughout the tournament and in the grand finals earned him the Finals MVP award, but being able to raise the trophy was definitely the sweetest prize for him. Among many other reasons, the championship was an affirmation of a long-time dream.
“This is a huge win for me, because when I started in the pro scene all I ever wanted was to be known as the best in the world,” said KarlTzy.
For Lusty, the team’s ever reliable tank and support player, the championship means a road to a better life, something few would have imagined he could have attained by playing MLBB.
“I’ll give the money I won to my family. To my mother and my wife, specifically. I’m also thinking of starting a business so that if ever I quit after M2 I’ll already have a foundation for my future,” said Lusty.
And for Bren Esports’ stalwart multirole player, CJ “Ribo” Ribo, the championship is a way of paying back all the support that he and his team received from their fans.
“I want to say thank you very much to those who supported us from the start and up to this point, especially those back home in the Philippines. We appreciate it and I wish we made you all proud,” said Ribo.