Losing the championship was definitely hard for Omega support Jeniel “Haze” Bata-anon, especially that he’s trying to win one not for himself but for the entire SMART franchise and his teammates as well.
Unfortunately for them, destiny has other plans as BREN Esports took home the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League-Philippines Season Six crown at Omega’s expense in six games.
“Gusto ko ring mag-champion ‘yung mga teammates ko kasi ‘di pa sila nakakapag-champion sa MPL. Kaya parang gusto ko ring maranasan nila ‘yun,” said Haze during an episode of Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Beyond the Meta, presented by SMART Sports.
Haze — arguably the most iconic player in the Philippine MLBB landscape — already won the championship back in the league’s inaugural season in 2018 with the fabled Aether Main.
The recent grand finals loss stung for the Southeast Asian Games gold medalist. But the blow softened after knowing that the championship trophy would be going to someone close to his heart — his former teammate and kuya Cj “Ribo” Ribo.
“Masaya pa rin po kahit papaano dahil nagkatapat kami na ‘di ‘man magkakampi, ayun. Magkalaban kami tapos masaya din ako na nakapag-two-time champion ‘yung dating teammate ko si Ribo,” Haze said to hosts Carla Lizardo and Apple David.
“Nung una po, bago kami naging teammates, parang magkalaban din kami sa ‘yung parang unang-unang tournament, ‘yung MPC. Ayun, magkalaban kami dun, tapos sumunod dun ‘yung MPL na dun na kami naging magkakampi hanggang season four.”
Haze and Ribo have come a long way in their respective careers.
The two first crossed paths in the MLBB Philippines Challenge Cup back in 2017. Then, Haze’s OBS Gaming, composed of Billy “Z4pnu” Alfonso, Jeff “JeffQt4ever” Anaya, Erwin “Yakou” Mags, and Jomie “Pakbet” Abalos won the title against Ribo’s Aether Main featuring team captain Renz “Pein” Reyes.
Haze would then join Ribo in the Aether squad for the MPL-PH Season One. He became the first-ever champions along with Pein, Mico “Coco” Sampang, Yuji “Yuji” Aizawa, and Matthew “666” Mandilag.
After an impressive finish in the tournament, the team was acquired by esports powerhouse BREN Esports, whom they represented in the MLBB Southeast Asia Cup. It was another dominant performance for them, winning the championship against rivals DD PRO Gaming in the all-Filipino finals.
BREN Esports’ dominant run soon ended, though. Cignal Ultra (former DDPRO Gaming) ousted them in the Season Two of MPL-PH, while ArkAngel dispatched BREN Esports in Season Three.
Season Four was the last for the partnership of RIbo and Haze. The latter left the team for Sterling Global Dragons-Omega (now SMART Omega) in search of a new scenery.
BREN Esports revamped its whole roster, adding SEA Games gold medalist Bords “Lusty” Castromayor, Angelo “Pheww” Arcangel, and Karl Gabriel “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno. They also retained Ribo, Coco, and sixth man Ephraim ‘Ejhay” Sambrano.
Haze, meanwhile, teamed up with fellow gold medalist Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa and Sibol coach Steven “Daledalus” Vitug.
The two would then team up again in the MLBB Philippines Champions Invitational, where they placed second to eventual champions Sunsparks.
And even though Ribo was the first to win two championships between the two of them, Haze vows that he will enter the two-titles club one day and hand his team its first-ever championship in the league — just as his kuya Ribo did for BREN.