SINGAPORE - After the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) M2 World Championship in January, Evos SG's Stefan "Soul" Chong called time on his professional playing career to take up a management role in the e-sports outfit.
But his retirement did not last long as he found himself back in a gaming seat at the May 7-9 play-offs of the inaugural MLBB Professional League (MPL) Singapore tournament.
Despite Evos SG's run of six wins in seven matches during the regular season, which placed them second in the standings after Kingsmen, the team felt they needed an additional boost in the title battle.
So they turned to their coach Chong in what turned out to be a winning move as they beat RSG SG 3-0 in the grand final on Sunday (May 9) at e-sports training facility The Gym to be crowned the first ever MPL Singapore champions.
Captain Andrew "Potato" Lim, who was also the regular season's most valuable player, said: "We felt that the team was not good enough to win the championship because of some strategies we couldn't pull off. We decided to just bring Soul in with us and we managed to get the championship because he was our captain previously.
"He definitely brought his own leadership so that made us win confidently."
The grand final started well for RSG SG as they claimed an early lead, but Evos SG were quick to turn the game around to claim victory.
The second game followed in a similar fashion, but again, Evos SG fought back, before sealing their win with a victory in the third game to take home the winner's cheque of $30,000.
Despite routing RSG SG 3-0 in the final, Evos SG's Chong said he knew their rivals would be no pushovers.
RSG, who finished fifth in the regular season, were undefeated in the lower bracket play-offs, which qualified them for the grand final against Evos SG.
Chong, 26, said: "We know that RSG is on the same level as Evos. This very first season isn't really for newcomers yet. I was a bit worried because they had the momentum going but on our side, we had the time to study them and it worked out."
Ng "Pokemon" Jun Hong, the play-offs' MVP, believes that going full-time two weeks before the play-offs helped Evos SG hone their skills, while Chong also attributed their victory to the camaraderie between his teammates.
Ng said: "Winning the first season of MPL Singapore means a lot because the first season will always go into the books of history and us being the first ones to win it proves we're the best in Singapore at the moment. So hopefully Evos will be able to maintain this title moving forward."
MPL Singapore, which has a prize pool of up to $100,000, is presented by Singtel's PVP Esports and the game's developer Moonton.
Both grand finalists will advance to the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Southeast Asia Cup that commences online on June 8.