A dive into Liquid Echo’s road to the top of the MPL

Photo from Moonton

by Drew Malihan

MAKATI – Since having a sudden change of form after Season 9, ECHO has reclaimed their title as one of the pro scene’s most feared teams both locally and internationally. This was capped by a dominant run in the M4 World Championship and the MPL Philippines Season 11 trophy.

From there, the Orcas found themselves in the title conversations from the start of Season 12. However, they fell a bit short as they only finished in third after an 11-3 regular season, sparking rumors and hearsays from fans and critics alike.

Now, with Team Liquid acquiring ECHO and sister team Aura Fire in Indonesia, the influx of additional resources – not to mention the prestige of the Liquid brand – will play into Orcas’ quest back to the MSC stage, and eventually, the MPL trophy.

Add one, enter two

Fans were surprised back at the start of Season 13 when they let go of charismatic roamer Tristan “Yawi” Cabrera, who then went on to carry Aura Fire to the fourth seed in MPL Indonesia all the way from the bottom of the Season 12 table. This sparked another round of hearsay about the team and their decision to keep veteran Jaypee “Jaypee” dela Cruz as the main roamer.

Additionally, ECHO did not make much of a move as they promoted MDL Philippines Season 2 standouts Justine “Zaida” Palma and Jhonville “Outplayed” Villar to the main team. The two played a crucial role in ECHO Proud’s triumph in the second-tier competition and has some games in the MPL in the past.

The coaching staff also suffered a loss as Robert Alexis “Trebor” Sanchez left the Orcas’ boot camp after three seasons with the team, eventually joining AP.Bren, with Harold Francis “Tictac” Reyes coaching the team on his own for the first time.

MDL standouts exceed expectations

Both Outplayed and Zaida shine in their respective roles, playing alongside Jaypee, Alston “Sanji” Pabico, and Sanford “Sanford” Vinuya, and taking some load off main jungler Karl Gabriel “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno and gold laner Benedict “Bennyqt” Gonzales.

In their eight games played, the duo earned a 3-1 series win-loss record, earning victories against Smart Omega, TNC Pro Team, and Blacklist International, all in 2-0 sweeps.

Zaida’s dreaded hero Nolan stood out on his picks in eight games, with the assassin dealing 13 kills and seven assists in total in two games against a hapless TNC Pro Team without falling once.

Outplayed meanwhile tallied a respectable 6.00 KDA across eight games, with his Claude dealing booyakah KDA of 6/1/9 (get it? :D), appearing in one game each against TNC and Smart Omega.

The young gun and the veteran

Photo from Moonton

MPL Philippines has a long list of prolific midlaners in the pro scene, and ECHO has their gem in Sanji, already an established name since showing up big time in the M4.

The 18-year-old former AP Esports player finished his third season in the league in the top five of the assist charts with 203, slightly above Salic “Hadji” Imam and Rowgien “Owgwen” Unigo’s  tally of 202, and the second among all midlaners, only behind Kenneth “Yue” Tadeo.

Sanji was among the best Novaria users in town, dealing 40 assists in seven total games and an absurd 11.5 average KDA, with its best performance in Week 6 against TNC Pro Team with a 2/0/10 KDA. He also had seven more heroes so far with Faramis and Valentina among his preferred picks.

Now let’s go to the best assister this season: Jaypee.

Jaypee’s 243 total assists in 33 games were heads and shoulders above the competition, with top two Jonard Cedrix “Demonkite” Caranto at 221.  For context, he has more assists than KarlTzy and Bennyqt combined.

The jungler-turned-roamer may not be the flashiest player around today but he makes up for it with significant plays, especially when he was given the Minotaur. In nine games playing the tank-support, Jaypee amassed an whopping 86 assists in total. To compare, Sanford – who led Liquid Echo in kills – has 87 with 11 heroes.

Daddy Jaypee, as he was often called, has Arlott and Ruby when they needed setups and sustains, and Angela when the team needs healing. Overall, he has amassed an average KDA of 3.26, fourth among all roamers who played 20 or more games.

TL;DR: Liquid Echo thriving this season is Jaypee's fault.

What lies ahead?

Photo from Liquid Echo

Now ditching the iconic purple with the legendary dark blue and white, Liquid Echo will start its journey to the playoffs glory against a familiar opponent: Coach Panda’s RSG Philippines.

It will be a style clash come May 23rd as they will have their Echo Express playstyle go against RSG’s more aggressive version of “Pandamentals.” Interestingly, they are the top two teams in average kills and assists per game, with RSG escaping with fewer deaths per game (7.34) compared to Liquid Echo (9.52).

However, Liquid Echo has better historical data against the Raiders, as the Orcas won against them in their last three meetups in the MPL, including two this Season 13.

This will also mark another chapter in the friendly rivalry between junglers KarlTzy and Demonkite, with the one continuously thriving in the Filipino MLBB scene and the one arriving after being one of the best in MPL Malaysia.

We have seen sponsorship buffs come and go with mixed results. Natus Vincere’s M3 acquisition of Deus Vult was pretty successful but was cut short due to matters beyond their control. Team Secret fumbled in Malaysia and did not even come close to Season 13. Infamous had a mixed season in Latin America, and Gaimin Gladiators fell to BloodThirstyKings on the final day of NACT 2024 Spring.

Will Liquid Echo be among the success stories of the big organization buffs in MLBB? The SM Southmall Events Center will have the answer this coming Wednesday.

Follow him on X: @drew_corner