Get to know TNC Pro Team ML in this Wonder exclusive
Before esports became a sustainable means of income for many unassuming players, the act of gaming was considered taboo. In plenty of Filipino households, staying at a computer shop for hours with friends is a sign of idleness. Many times, we hear “kakalaro mo ‘yan (that’s what you get for playing),” as an insult and punchline, especially from our elders. Thankfully, times have changed.
For young, passionate individuals, gaming is a way of life. The nine-man roster, TNC Pro Team ML is spearheaded by Head Coach Paulo Sy (Coach 413) and Team Captain Ben Maglaque (Benthings) in the latest season of the prestigious Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL), a league already at par with the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Thousands of fans all over watch professional gamers compete at the largest mobile games tournament in Southeast Asia, where winners get thousands of dollars as a cash prize.
The Pro ML Team consists of professional gamers Ben Maglaque (Benthings), Salman Macarambon (KingSalman), Daniel Chu (SDzyz), Jomarie delos Santos (Escalera), Mark Ruisiana (Kramm) and Robee Pormocille (Yasuwo), who’ve come together to compete for the coveted title.
For all members, gaming has offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn their passions into profit, an escape from a life filled with financial hurdles. For one member, Jomarie delos Santos, also known as Escalera, gaming offered a respite from the monotony of life. After a long day working as a jeepney driver, he would play Mobile Legends. In time, he realized he was talented at it, and decided to join amateur teams.
Before Ben Maglaque joined the Pro ML Team, the oldest of the team and fondly referred to as the “Kuya,” he was a property consultant who sold condominiums in the metro for a living. For his birthday in 2018, a friend downloaded the game on his phone, and the rest is history. He shares, “[Because of Mobile Legends], mas nakakatulong ako sa pamilya ko at nakakapag-ipon for the future (I get to help my family and save up for the future).” Even in his downtime, he reveals that he still plays the game. “Hahanapin mo talaga siya (You look for it),” he shares.
We get to know more about the members of the Pro ML Team in this Wonder exclusive:
For Head Coach, Paulo Sy, he is grateful to see how much the landscape of gaming has changed throughout the years. He notes, “We’re very happy that esports and gaming [are] becoming more mainstream now. Dati kasi, taboo siya (before, it was considered taboo). Kapag naglalaro ka, bulakbol ka (when you played, you were considered a vagabond). Ganun ‘yung stigma (that was the stigma) before, but now with more and more players earning, we’re able to establish a league.”
Paulo adds, “Nagiging (It’s become a) life-changing opportunity siya for the players. We’re very happy that the esports industry as a whole is being highlighted.”
Gaming, as expected in the pandemic, has reached an all-time high, and there are no signs of stopping. While there are still stereotypes and stigma surrounding gaming, there is value to acquire in spending hours of training for a competition or simply getting lost in a new world. In seemingly dire battlegrounds, strategic thinking and creativity can flourish.
Art Alexandra Lara and Matthew Ian Fetalver