We recently had a chance to chat with veteran Mobile Legends analyst/shoutcaster “Wolf” Caisam Yvez Nopueto regarding the biggest storylines that Mobile Legends fans should expect at the ONE Esports’ Mobile Legends Professional League Invitational 2021 (MPLI 2021).
If you’ve already read that and are looking at diving deep into more MPLI 2021 content, you’re in the right place! Here is our full interview, and here, he shares not only the biggest stories of the tournament, but also his predictions.
The following is the full transcript of the interview with Wolf:
Let’s talk about Blacklist’s group. Why do you think Blacklist selected the teams that they did during the Captain’s Draft?
Wolf: I think that the most important thing they did was to pick Geek Fam, [the team that] eliminated them from contention in the last season of MPLI. At the same time, BON CHAN was also taking about how he wants to see SeeYouSoon and their meta, because in [Blacklist’s] mind, they want to know how other countries perform. So, it’s like they wanted to test out the metagame of other countries. Basically, they want to show how good Philippine meta is compared to other countries, that’s my guess.
I think that this is their way to expand their knowledge for M3.
Do you have an idea about the selection process of the other MPL champion teams?
Wolf: I understand what their process is [during the Captain’s Draft]. As a competitor, it’s hard to approve of what SMG did, because what they did was, they selected all of the good teams and then pit them against each other. So, it’s kinda like they eliminated at least three of the strongest teams in MPLI already. Well, the thing is, it also means that they’ll be facing [a strong team]. So, imagine, whoever comes out of the death group, that’s incredibly strong. So maybe the only thing that you will have as an advantage is that you’re going to be able to watch them play.
Team SMG, if you didn’t know, they have this coach from Indonesia named James. And James was from RRQ before and just a little bit of a backstory, last MPLI, when James was still drafting for RRQ, he did the same thing, he also took the strongest teams. Maybe it’s something that he tried to do again, but at the same time, it’s a big risk, a big gamble on his part. So, like I said, I understand the process. It doesn’t mean that I approve of it.
If you were the captain or coach of a team in the Captain’s Draft, what would be your selection process like?
Wolf: Probably just pick one Filipino team in my bracket, and then pair them up against like international team. Honestly, I’m in to win it right, I want to be a competitor, so I’ll naturally choose the teams that are below the power rankings, for example, I’ll get my MPL Philippines team up against MPL Indonesia’s seventh or eighth placer. That’s just the easier way to go about it to win, I think, but the champions of MPLI did not go with that strategy for draft.
Aside from Team SMG’s group, is there another Group of Death?
Wolf: It should be ONIC ID’s group. Interestingly, the coach of ONIC Indonesia, also did what Duckey did last season which was to pit the inter international teams against each other. So, there’s RSG Philippines going up against RSG Singapore, and Aura Fire of Indonesia vs Echo of the Philippines which was formerly Aura anyway. So, to me, ONIC ID’s is a group of death in a way as it’s difficult on their part, because normally, these teams, they share information they also scrim with each other. I would say that they’re a group of death and they’re going to be closer since the teams know each other better.
What are the differences in playstyle for each region?
Wolf: Right off the bat, Indonesia is almost like in the Philippines, except that they like to fight more. They also love assassins in their core role, in their jungler role, so it’s very active [style] and very teamfight heavy.
When you’re looking at both Malaysia and Singapore, what I notice about their metagame is that they like pocket picks, they love cheese strategies. For example, they put awkward heroes in other roles for example, like a sidelane Akai.
To sum it up, for the Philippines, the meta is more macro, economic, and objective based, because of the top one of two teams that we have. Indonesia is almost the same, but they love to teamfight more. Malaysia and Singapore meanwhile, bring up pocket strategies.
My suggestion for teams that are facing MY/SG is to make sure that you study their team. Some teams from other regions may be stronger than MY/SG, but they might be surprised with these pocket strategies that they have.
What are the biggest storylines, and what are the matches with the biggest storylines for MPLI 2021?
Wolf: First, there’s Blacklist International establishing their strength in the whole region. Just laying the foundation that they are securing the title as one of the best in the region.
Second storyline is definitely the Group of Death which you need to watch, especially as there’s ONIC vs Omega. For fans outside of the Philippines, this is not a rivalry per se, but it’s a strong matchup all throughout MPL season eight because there are a lot of stories outside of the game that happened in there.
Alter Ego and their bracket is another storyline to watch out for as they want to redeem themselves. Then you have from the bracket of ONIC Indonesia. The story for that bracket is the region versus region counterpart matches.
ONIC PH and Omega are facing off very early into the tournament. What are your thoughts or what are your predictions for this match?
Wolf: In MPL Season 8, they met three times, and all three series went in favor of ONIC. I don’t see that changing personally because ONIC Philippines have already established how strong they are. But it’s not a massive advantage, maybe 55% to 45% of in favor of ONIC. That’s how close this is. I still feel that ONIC Philippines will win but it’s going to be very close.
Why? Because Omega is known as a team will always be a dark horse. In fact, they’re called lason in the Philippines, which means that they can win against any team, but they’re also a team that can be beaten by any squad; that’s how volatile they are. That’s why it’s always a treat to watch them.
Plus, there’s a lot of drama involving on ONIC and Omega from the MPL season eight regular season.
Which teams do you think has the best shot of winning it all?
Wolf: I have three teams that I think can win. ONIC Philippines, ONIC Indonesia, and Blacklist International. So, with Blacklist International, that’s an obvious choice because they’re very strong. They’re very comfortable in their own skin. For ONIC Indonesia, I think this is their best iteration yet. If you look at their performance in a MPL season seven and eight, in seven they fell short, but they kept their lineup, then in season eight they were dominant and won it all. And I believe that they had a lot of time to study Blacklist International, so they are going to be a big threat.
As for ONIC Philippines, I do feel that what happened in MPL season eight was just them not being accustomed to the LAN setting. They have a chance, but not as strong as the first two that I mentioned.
Which teams are the dark horse squads in MPLI?
Wolf: I’m thinking of two – Omega and RRQ. RRQ being a strong team that made it difficult for ONIC Indonesia to make it through the finals. Then obviously Omega as they’re always the Dark Horse team. And mind you, they also won the recent MSC. So, I believe that there’s something in international tournaments that Omega, for whatever reason, they’re just able to win them.
What is the mindset like for the teams heading into MPLI, especially with M3 right around the corner?
Wolf: That’s interesting because a normal person or normal viewer might say that okay, this team is gonna be hiding strategies because M3 matters more than anything else. That’s also what I initially thought when I started working with teams, and then I learned that it wasn’t really the case. Whatever tournament it is, teams are gonna give it their all, and MPLI is a very important tournament. It has a big following. It’s a prelude to M3 definitely, but it doesn’t mean that teams [will be saving strats].
Plus, the thing with esports, and with Mobile Legends in particular is that every month, there’s a new flavor of the month change in the meta, and I’m pretty sure that before M3, there will be a patch. So that means that it doesn’t matter if you hide strats or not. It was proven by Blacklist International that they’re not going to be hiding strategies, and that’s not the way to go. You always want to win. No matter what happens, whatever tournament it is, once you’re on that tournament, you’re going to be given it all. And that’s what I learned working with professional teams. This is true across all professional teams that I’ve seen. They’re not going to be hiding strats whatsoever. They’re going to give it all at MPLI 2021.
What are you most excited for to see in MPLI 2021?
Wolf: I’m most excited for Group B. It’s the best teams, the most competitive group stage matches are gonna be there. Easily, those four teams in there can be top four, but only one will come out of there, and that’s crazy to me. I wonder how they’re gonna perform, so I’m excited both to watch and to hopefully cast those games.
Do you have a message for your fans and for ML fans in general?
Wolf: Watch MPLI for sure! Personally, I’m going to be giving out some analysis and a lot of content on the One Esports Philippines page. So do check that out.
Images courtesy of ONE Esports.