Not known to many, the iconic Aether Main squad almost broke up the band right before they even started.
Had that happened, the local Mobile Legends scene will surely be far from what it is right now, since the fabled squad paved the path for others through their dominant performance in the league’s inaugural season.
“Dapat mabubuwag na kami bago mag-MPL Season One, kasi parang practice na lang namin, ano, mga two games per day,” CJ “Ribo” Ribo told MPL Chillax.
“Tapos ‘yan sila Billy, sila Pakbet kalaban namin, ‘pag tinatalo kami parang nati-tilt na kami kasi parang ayaw nilang magpabawi ganun. Yapos nakakagigil.”
Ribo even revealed that he was already dead-set on transferring to another team entirely due to their indifferences and his frustrations.
But luckily for the Aether bunch, and all the MPL fans, popular streamer Setsuna “Akosi Dogie” Ignacio was there to keep the team intact.
“Sinasabi ng mga tao business purposes, sa’kin kasi hindi ko ‘yun tinitignan kasi gusto ko ‘yung structure ng esports scene dito sa Pilipinas, which is not established talaga noon,” he shared.
“And nakikita ko talaga ‘yung MPL na ‘yun ‘yung magbibigay pundasyon sa lahat ng esports [leagues] dito sa Pilipinas so tinake ko ‘yun, like… Gamble ‘yun e, sobrang laking gamble noon kung iisipin niyo kasi magi-invest ako pero wala akong kikitain kasi nagbabayad ako ng boot camp… Ginawa ko ‘yun para matulungan ‘tong mga players lahat sila na magawa ‘yung gusto nila.”
The rise of Billy “Z4pnu” Alfonso as the Philippines’ most beloved player back then prompted Dogie to take Aether Main under his wing.
Not that he holds any grudges towards Z4pnu, it’s just that he wants a team, who was virtually unkown back then, to rival Z4pnu’s Obsidian Gaming and give the budding league’s fans its much-needed rivalry.
“Sila Z4pnu ‘yung good guys, si Z4pnu ‘yung image of OBS Gaming. Tapos sa AE. sila ‘yung bad guys, walang kilala sa kanila. So ‘yun. sabi ko, you know what? Kukunin ko ‘yung bad guys para mas lalong manood ‘yung mga tao at ma-engganyo sila na may bida, may kontrabida ta’s mag la-laban,” Dogie explained to hosts Mara Aquino and Dan “Leo” Cubangay.
“Binigyan ko sila ng opportunity, siyempre opportunity rin ‘yun sa’kin. Nagsasabi sila ng, ‘Salamat Dogs!’ Hindi, salamat sa inyo kasi wala naman ako dito kundi dahil sa kanila talaga.”
Eventually, Dogie’s decision to place all his chips in Aether Main paid off.
The team composed of Ribo, Jeniel “Haze” Bata-anon, Renz “Pein” Reyes, Yuji “Yuji” Aizawa, Mico “Coco” Sampang, and Matthew “666” Mandilag ran over the entire competition to claim the inaugural MPL title.
“Talagang batak lang kami mag-ranked game noon, parang 24 hours kaming naglalaro nun,” Ribo said.
Aether Main’s run, though, was short-lived.
Seeing what his boys achieved and the hard work that they have put in to get there, Dogie knew that the Aether squad deserved more than what they’re getting from him.
“At that point, to be honest, ang baba ng sahod nila sa akin. I’ll be totally transparent, ang sinasahod nila Haze noon which is para sa’kin masakit kasi ‘yun lang ‘yung afford ko is five thousand pesos a month. Pero ako rin nag sho-shoulder ng boot camp, pati pagkain.
“Tuwing nakikita ko sila, nakikita ko si Haze saka si Ribo… Nakikita ko si Haze gigising ng umaga ang una niyang gagawin, bubuksan niya ‘yung ML tapos magpa-practice ng Chou sa custom. Parang naawa ako na itong batang ‘to, hindi nito deserve ‘yung 5k na sahod,” said an emotional Dogie.
So, he began the search for a new sponsor to handle the team. And that’s when the Bernard Chong-owned franchise came in.
“Kausap ko noon ‘yung manager sa AE, sabi ko kailangan na nating maghanap ng sponsor para sa kanila kasi they deserve better and much more.”
Aether Main has inspired a lot of fans and even professional gamers to pursue their passion in mobile gaming.
And I think we all have Dogie to thank for it.