Following a respectable semi-finals finish in last year’s Campus Legends, the NUS Mobile Legends: Bang Bang representatives look to match and even surpass their previous success. Team captain Calvin “SmellyCat” Toh joined us to share how they’ve been getting ready for the coming tournament.
Hey Calvin, welcome. Seeing as you’re team captain, I’m sure you’ve had quite a bit of experience with not just the game, but your team as well. Could you talk briefly about that?
I started playing Mobile Legends while I was in NS, about five years ago. Also, I played for NUS in last year’s Campus Legends so I’m quite experienced in the game. As for how long I’ve been with the NUS team, I’m currently in Year 4 and while a couple of the other players are the same age as me, the rest are from Year 2 so I wouldn’t say that I’ve played with them for long. But I have been coaching them since they were Year One.
Could you elaborate a bit on how NUS Esports prepares for tournaments like Campus Legends and selects representatives?
During the academic semester, we’ll have training twice a week. Leading up to this tournament, we are having holiday training, so some of the players are coming back to train on top of their commitments like internships or vacations. Right now, we mostly play ranked matches and scrim with other teams to prepare.
As for selecting our representatives, we traditionally hold a series of trials to determine our best team. We do send some of our members for community competitions but for most of the players on our roster this time, this is the largest scale tournament they’ve played.
You mentioned that you’ve been coaching the younger players on the team. Could you elaborate more on that and how does that translate given your position as team captain here?
Oh, for the past year, I wasn’t able to coach the team directly as I was taking a break from esports. Instead, I got another guy to replace me for a while. So I was more of an advisor on the side, telling him what to do and how to fix up training schedules.
I also get players like Oh Deer Bambi from Kingsmen to come over and help the team review their games since he’s from NUS as well. He’s also in this tournament. He’s more of the leader figure I’d say, the shotcaller when it comes to in-game.
But when it comes to training, I deal with the players separately, the ones from the other teams. Generally when it comes to training. I don’t use my experience playing in these tournaments to coach the team. I usually take ideas from the professional Mobile Legends international scene.
Since you watch all these competitive games on the professional level, what are your thoughts on the current ML meta?
Right now, I believe the meta has shifted a lot from the traditional days and the previous season. As a mobile game, ML is slightly different from Dota 2 or League of Legends. We have meta shifts every two or three months, meaning it’s a very dynamic game and players have to keep adjusting. Almost everything is playable if you’re good enough to pull it off.
Would you say you like having this level of flexibility or would you rather see a more rigid meta where hero picks aren’t as diverse?
I’m definitely enjoying the current meta right now. Let’s say in the jungle, there are many heroes that you can explore for this role, like Karina, Harley, Helcurt, Ling or even some of the assassins if your team composition can pull it off. But in the previous meta, there were only a few fixed heroes. It’s definitely more fun since it’s more dynamic to play now.
Is this added diversity in hero selection beneficial for your team? Does it play into your individual strengths and weaknesses?
Definitely. I feel that for the older players, they might not have the same experiences as the current players because there is an added level of difficulty nowadays. There are a lot of things to take note of whereas in previous metas and patches, things were more fixed or rigid with certain kinds of drafts.
Given your experience in Mobile Legends, I’m sure you’ve gotten to know the competition pretty well. Could you share your thoughts on some of the teams and players you’ll be going up against?
I used to know some of the other players because we meet almost every year so I’m excited to see them resurface. But I’m not that sure about the current teams.
As for our opponents, we were most wary of the Temasek Polytechnic representatives last year. I think this year they also have Azura X and SKY who both played for Almghty in MPL. For NTU, I’m more interested to know who’s their new line-up since we did use to be close to their old team. The last time we played against each other, the previous team was quite strong. Hopefully, the new batch can live up to expectations.
What about expectations for yourselves? What do you guys hope to achieve or prove this year?
From a coach’s perspective, I definitely want NUS to be in the top three. But as a player and team captain, I just want my team to enjoy this experience because most of them are quite new and inexperienced. I want them to embrace this new challenge and learn as much as possible from this tournament.