Will Minana EVOS surpass their predecessors?

Photo from Moonton

by Drew Malihan

MAKATI – Minana EVOS had found themselves in an unfamiliar situation since the EVOS franchise re-arrived in the Philippines in Season 8. It was only their second playoff appearance since the MPL Philippines shifted to the franchise model.

Why did I say re-arrive? The Indonesia-based sports club tried to enter the Philippine MLBB scene in 2019, acquiring then-fourth placer SxC Imbalance and playing as EVOS Esports PH for two seasons before leaving the country before Season 5.

EVOS tp-ed back to PH base

When EVOS reentered the MPL Philippines, they eyed a different team as they forged a partnership with Nexplay Esports, who was then a mid-table team and found decent success, finishing fourth in Season 8, their highest place in the league ever.

They followed it with a 5th-6th place finish in Season 9, and then the era of the seemingly never-ending rebuild began, with them missing two straight playoff appearances in Seasons 10 and 11 with the AP Esports boys. Sadly that did not work out for the White Tigers.

But back then in Season 11, the Minana brand was already prevailing for the Nexplay EVOS lineup. They let go of almost everyone, except Jeniel “Haze” Bata-anon, who saw everything happen since arriving from Smart Omega in Season 8.

Rebuild 2.0

Photo from Moonton

They replaced the entire roster with the Minana Esports boys, who was arguably the best amateur team in the country back in 2021 and 2022. Danver “Ding” Canja, Bien “Boyet” Chumacera, Christian “Goyong” Martinez, Jan Dominic “Domeng” del Mundo, and Borris “Brusko” Parro, introduced themselves to the pro scene. Unfortunately for the squad, they ended up second from last that season.

Ding was put in the inactive list, Haze became an assistant coach, and the then-NXPE Tiger Cubs main five were slotted into the main Minana EVOS roster, but again they finished seventh, prompting them to make drastic changes.

The rest of the Minana EVOS Season 11 left one by one before Season 13, with Boyet going to Cambodia, Goyong reunited with Ding – albeit now opponents – in the MENA region, and Brusko now plying his trade to RRQ Hoshi. Domeng and Haze, who now reverted back as a player, were the only two remaining from Season 11.

Recent success

With Ken “Kzen” Pile, Brain Milez “SpiderMilez” Santos, and Lance “Lancecy” Cunanan finding their groove in Season 12, and the arrival of Jann “Kirk” Gutierrez from RSG Philippines, Minana EVOS were back with pure intentions in Season 13: to make the playoffs.

And they did just that, scoring huge upsets against ECHO (Week 4 Day 2), and ONIC (Week 6 Day 1), as well as getting sweeps from TNC Pro Team twice and Smart Omega, once.

But perhaps their best showing came from Week 1 Day 2 and Week 5 Day 2 as they, despite losing both series, put Blacklist International into their limits with both reaching to Game 3. And it was Minana EVOS who thrived in the super late game, with their wins coming from a 31-minute Game 2 in March 16, and a 26-minute Game 2 win the next time.

Best players, SpiderMilez and Kirk

Photo from Moonton

When it comes to the White Tigers, two players came into mind when asked who is, or are, the standout for the team.

One of them is SpiderMilez, who has one of the highest KDAs out of the players who played 10 games or more with 5.57 KDA, while assisting 6.68 kills per game. The then-MDL PH standout played 22 out of 32 total games for Minana EVOS, and sat out the last two weeks of the regular season for John “Perkziva” Sumawan.

And that’s not all. When SpiderMilez is in the playing five for Minana EVOS, opponents have considered to outright limit his hero choices by having a five-hero target ban.

And we can’t blame them. Out of 147 total assists dished by Miles, slightly more than half of them (74) came from just his Rafaela, who appeared nine times. The seemingly cute K-Pop-looking healer has 12 kills with SpiderMilez in control, convingcingly the best Rafaela in town.

And let’s not forget about that infamous Floryn, who he has used 6 times and has a KDA of 46. That dude literally died just once with this hero.

Another one is Kirk, who just played his first full season in the MPL as a starter after suiting up with RSG Philippines as a backup. The EXP laner played 29 times, and tallied a respectable 2.71 KDA, and has earned several Game MVPs in his tally.

Perhaps people didn’t notice that Kirk has played 12 heroes during the entire regular season, tied for second-most three more players, and only behind ONIC’s Jomearie “Escalera” delos Santos.

The EXP laner’s hero of choice is Arlott, who registered 17 kills and 39 assists in eight appearances for Minana EVOS, and has X.Borg, Edith, Ruby, and Cici to his arsenal as well.

What lies ahead?

Aside from Haze, the rest of Minana EVOS’ players have never saw the dizzying heights of the MPL Philippines playoffs, where everyone’s tournament lives are at least three games away from being eliminated. Playoffs inexperience may play a huge part in their campaign.

With veteran coaching staff from coach Christian “Bitoy” Casten and Douglas Joseph “Imbadeejay” Astibe in their side, Minana EVOS can learn a thing or two from the three vets.

Kzen’s lord and turtle take must also step up as the White Tigers had the lowest turtle kills among all eight teams, and the third lowest lord kills in the league, something they have to work out.

Especially when he will go in the first stepladder match against the instincts of Stephen “Sensui” Castillo and the rest of Blacklist International.

And there will be historical ties for the EVOS-backed team entering the playoff picture, as they will go against the very franchise who adopted the roster EVOS Esports PH parted ways before Season 5 – the Codebreakers of BLCK.

Follow him on Twitter: @drew_corner