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EXCLUSIVE: Ex-CNN PH producer among pioneer MLBB talents and community organizers in Australia

The Land Down Under is also getting its own taste of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang esports – no thanks... Paolo | 18. June 2024

The Land Down Under is also getting its own taste of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang esports – no thanks to the people making sure the continent is getting its own fair share of action in the Land of Dawn.

Since its inception in 2023, OCC Australia has been giving the continent its own taste of heart-pounding action in competitive MLBB, and has been actively gathering players in Australia and New Zealand to mark the continent’s participation in global MLBB action.

Among those making this possible: a former journalist and expat who just happened to be a big fan of the game herself.

Kristine “ggsartemis” Marinas was a veteran producer, guest coordinator, and all-around journalist who worked with me in CNN Philippines for nearly four years. 

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Tin pictured with The Source executive producer and CNN PH correspondent Tristan Nodalo, CNN PH Senior Anchor & Correspondent Pinky Webb, and then-SVP for News & Current Affairs Pal Marquez after “The Source” won the KBP Golden Dove Awards in 2021. Tin served as The Source’s primary guest coordinator. (Photo from Kristine Marinas)

Among her credentials: working for the network’s morning interview show The Source and midday newscast Balitaan, both anchored by veteran broadcast journalist Pinky Webb. For both shows, Artemis helped bring in politicians, headliners, and the who’s who in the news so that the Filipino people can get in-depth conversations with the newsmakers themselves.

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Tin with fellow content producers Majo Carpio (left) and Grace Libero (right). This trio ensured that every newscast and program CNN PH produced has newsmakers ready to respond to the day’s current issues and stories. (Photo from Kristine Marinas)

Artemis’ other role was also in helping secure important guests and newsmakers for special events, such as the critically acclaimed series of election debates that CNN Philippines produced for the 2019 Midterm elections. Before this, she worked at the News and Current Affairs division of the Philippines’ largest network, ABS-CBN, helping in the production of award-winning investigative pieces for the critically acclaimed current affairs program Failon Ngayon.

 

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Artemis showing off a winstreak. (Photo from Kristine Marinas)

Artemis, or as we in the newsroom like to call her, “Tin”, left the news business in 2021 to migrate abroad and be with her now-fiancee. After moving in between countries – from the UK and now to Australia, she felt homesick and decided to play Mobile Legends: Bang Bang as just a way to combat her homesickness.

“I don’t know if it’s the algorithm, but I would see streamers playing Mobile Legends Bang Bang – and that, to me, was totally foreign because I only streamed PC games back then,” Tin said, translated by Fragster into English. “Really, people play Mobile Legends and stream the game, so I tried it.”

Whether it was in London or Australia, Tin found herself in the company of fellow Filipino expats who played the game just to remind them of fun times at home. In her case, she was first exposed to the game because the studio personnel in CNN Philippines were avid fans of the game.

It was apparently a sign of things to come for her – as she eventually found herself playing a game she initially was not too much interested in.

“I got back here to Melbourne last December. I don’t know why, but for some reason,I’m pretty sure a lot of people play Mobile Legends,” Artemis says, eventually picking up the game and watching content about it.

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Artemis during the OCC Australia Quarterfinals. (Photo from Kristine Marinas)

Now, Tin and her fiance, Robert, play the game together. 

“I met my partner in 2018. Occasionally, my cousins and I would play Mobile Legends. So, he tried it too, and that became our bonding experience. We would play Mobile Legends.”

It wasn’t long enough until Artemis decided to go full-on gamer mode the moment she landed in Melbourne. She eventually came across OCC Australia, which had a big following for gamers in the continent.

“It’s so cool because they have a big following. But also, I saw that they host tournaments. So, I messaged them as a joke, “Hey guys, if you need a host or a correspondent. Just let me know. I’m so happy that there’s this community. And then, they replied. I think it was a few days after. “We’re interested. Send us a video. Or kind of like an audition, Tin.” So, I was like, oh, my gosh. They’re so serious,” she recounts.

The opportunity could not have come at a better time for someone like Tin, who left the journalism world and the bright studio lights for a quieter life with her one true love. For someone like her, who has grown so used to the daily grind of broadcasting and television news, esports allowed her to pursue a passion on her own time and on her own terms.

“All this happened during a time honestly, I was kind of struggling personally, because, of course, moving overseas and having to close a chapter – the journalist life – that I’m so passionate about,” Tin said. “Sometimes I ask myself, do I have regrets? What’s my purpose now that I’m here? But then, again, OCC. They brought back that spark within me, because I love productions. I love talking to people. I love doing interviews. And when I found OCC, I was like, “this is possible.”

And just days after Tin recorded her audition video and sent it to the OCC, she immediately got the role as a host. No longer was Tin booking guests or coordinating headliners for a program – she was now the host of Australia’s premier Mobile Legends: Bang Bang league.

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Significant milestones of OCC Australia over the years. (Photo from Facebook/Tensei)

OCC, Tin says, is composed of a small team founded by a Filipino migrant named Tensei. Tensei moved into Australia when he was young and was the one responsible for getting Artemis to become their tournament host.

“Our common ground, our purpose, is not just to promote the game, not just to grow the community, but also to provide support,” Artemis says. “A lot of us are introverted.  We can’t get out, so this is what we did to find friends, to get connections. That’s something that touched my heart and amazed me and others who are going through this awkward stage in life where we ask, “how do I start over?” To me, it’s beautiful that we have these connections – now we get to build those connections and just grow the community.”

And these efforts have already started to pay off. From their first tournament – the MLBB Oceania Challenge in November 2023, to being able to partner with MPL Philippines talent Francis “OSX” Joses in December, it all just snowballed from there. By March 2024, they went ahead and started another preseason tournament, Tide’s Cup, and also became one of the official restreamer teams for the international feed of the Philippines’ biggest esports league, MPL Philippines.

By May, OCC Australia has been tapped by New Zealand’s NZ Esports to become the organizer for the WEC24 National Qualifiers – itself a big leap from being streamers to now running a league on their own. The same month, OCC Australia had also partnered with teams across the continent, such as 69 Gaming Nepal, while holding their biggest tournament so far – the just-concluded OCC Season 2: Resurgence, which had an AUD 3150 prize pool.

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On standby during an OCC broadcast. (Photo from Kristine Marinas)

Behind all this, is the support of people like Tensei and OSX who have been instrumental in putting the league on the MLBB world map.

“Whenever we host tournaments, we cross-post it to his (OSX’s) page, so that we gain traction as well in the community,” Artemis says. “Meanwhile, Carl expressed his (OSX’s) interest in hosting or conducting training for us, since we’re all volunteers in OCC, not all of us have professional experience in our roles. So I have experience in production, but I don’t have experience in hosting. I’m honestly not the best at speaking in front of a camera or in front of a crowd. But yeah, he said, if I (OSX) have time, I would love to train the OCC members, for example, in casting. So yeah, we’re grateful for OSX. He’s been very helpful to us.”

Artemis hopes that someday, their own OCC league would be recognized by MLBB developer MOONTON Games and would become a full-fledged MPL counterpart similar to the bigger leagues in other regions and in their native Philippines.

Citing OSX, Mara Aquino, Neil “Midnight” de Guzman, and the legendary Manjean Faldas as her inspirations in hosting OCC, she says, while they are working towards that goal, she will always be one of those who will stand ready to become the voice of MLBB esports in the Land Down Under. 

But when the tournaments are done and the streams are over, Artemis returns to just being Tin – the gamer who found a home in the Land of Dawn. 

“Why do I play the game? Apart from the graphics are so beautiful, it’s so cool, right? And imagine, you can play from your mobile, which is the most convenient way to play. You don’t have to set up your computer or what have you, because it’s just on mobile,” Artemis says. 

“I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I find that playing the game is really a form of bonding. It’s like a new… It’s like your date. Instead of a lunch date, instead of a movie or Netflix, this is the bonding,” she adds, saying that as a Luo Yi main and a self-proclaimed Agent or Blacklist International fan, this is where she found a home even if home was miles away.

“Apart from my wish for the community, one of my hopes is that one day we get recognized by institutions or say, the (Australian) government, the gaming industry, because I’ve noticed that they’re more focused on PC games. (34:46) Hopefully, Mobile Legends will also be up there one day – Australia and maybe the whole Oceania with New Zealand and Fiji. That’s my hope for the industry aside from growing the community,” she says. “It’s really something that builds connections and friendship. Hopefully, we get recognized as well by different institutions here in Australia and our neighboring countries.”