EXCLUSIVE: G2 Blacklist head coach Tgee: On life, Wild Rift, and the grind to glory

Gerald Gianne “Tgee” Gelacio has transcended from being just a pro player into one of the most important figures... Paolo | 28. February 2024

Gerald Gianne “Tgee” Gelacio has transcended from being just a pro player into one of the most important figures in the Philippine and Asian scene for League of Legends: Wild Rift.

The veteran ex-PC pro is now at the helm of G2 Blacklist’s Wild Rift squad – which is a partnership between two juggernauts: G2 Esports, and Philippines-based esports team Blacklist International.

Weeks after their Grand Finals appearance at the Wild Rift League – Asia 2023 Season 2, to which G2 Blacklist was the runner-up against Chinese team Keep Best Gaming (KBG), Coach Tgee and his players – baron laners Karl “Karlll” Bautista, Chammy Paul “Chammy1” Nazarrea and Sean Andrei “emae” Baguino, jungler Justine Ritchie “kaedy” Tan, midlaner Aaron Mark “Aaron” Bingay, dragon laner Golden Hart “Goldenk1te” Dajao, and support Reniel “Dr4w” Angara – took a break from playing and went for a vacation.

Now, they’re back in the grind – and back at their bootcamp somewhere in Metro Manila, the Philippines’ capital region.

“As a coach, I don’t let them go to scrims immediately,” Coach Tgee told me in the vernacular, wearing his G2B jersey as we gamely did the recording via Zoom. “We need to build our chemistry again, step by step. So I just allowed them to play a few games first. After a week, that’s where the grind starts.”

397369113 818095373651098 6875840029239790316 n


Coach Tgee himself is a master of the grind – having played League of Legends since 2012.

“When were known at the time as Team Mineski in 2013, we qualified for the Worlds as the SEA representative. At the time, we were underdogs and qualifying alone is already difficult,” Coach Tgee told Fragster.

He recounts, their journey to Worlds Season 3 was like a Cinderella run. Team Mineski defeated Xgame in their opening match before dropping their match against the Singapore Sentinels, forcing them to crawl their way throughout the lower bracket.

Not to be outdone, Team Mineski – the lone Filipino representative, eventually defeated the Bangkok Titans, Kuala Lumpur Hunters, and the Saigon Jokers in the lower bracket to battle once again with the Singapore Sentinels for the chance to represent Southeast Asia in the grandest stage of League of Legends in the United States.

Sadly, despite all the struggle, Team Mineski had a dismal 0-8 win-loss record in Worlds Season 3 – which was eventually won by SK Telecom T-1 – and the first of many more titles to come for esports’ greatest of all time, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.

“It was a great feeling – but that was the time when esports was not yet very well known in our country. We didn’t even have a coach at the time, so we realized how important it is to have an esports coach in terms of discipline and what happens inside a game. Overall, it was a happy experience because we were able to go to the United States at the time, even if we lost. In hindsight, it’s a different level when your region is complete,” Tgee said.

It is this veteran mindset that he tries to pull in, especially now that he leads his own squad once again.

“I built in a system that between my players because of the long time we’ve spent together as a team. At first, you will see that player morale can dip down quick. Training them to be stronger is important especially in times when the team always loses. As a coach, you need to step up and boost their morale – how will you do that? That’s where your system comes into play,” Coach Tgee says.

He adds, “my system is based on training them on how to deal with those kinds of situations. It depends on the person on how they can prove themselves in the game and how they dictate the play. If you’re half-hearted, your mindset about the game changes faster, and your mind is not wholly focused on the game. The best part for me is that my players have already attained that part of building morale – they’re easier to instruct and train now unlike before.”

Tgee notes his former head coach in Liyab Esports, Akarawat “Cabbage” Wangsawat, as one of this mentors in coaching. “Actually, he was the most helpful person or like a mentor figure to me in terms of coaching. He taught me what I needed to know, especially in my first coaching stint when I started out in 2019.”

367401938 742922504306182 8085642989941710284 nFROM NIGMA GALAXY TO G2 BLACKLIST

The latter statement is made even more meaningful, as Tgee and some of the current G2B players used to handle a different banner – that of Middle Eastern esports team Nigma Galaxy.

Under NGX, then-Assistant Coach Tgee was the deputy Wild Rift tactician to head coach Van “Vansu” Alfonso, and their entire NGX roster represented the Philippines and won the Gold medal at the 2023 Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.

NGX was the runner-up in WRL Asia 2023 Season 1 against KBG, and they got 0-4’ed in the said match. In that tournament, G2 Blacklist – then a newcomer to the picture – barely even make it past the Philippines qualifier. After their 2023 Season 1 Finals stint, Nigma Galaxy released their Wild Rift roster, and G2 Blacklist was quick to give almost all of them a new home.

Now, Coach Tgee says, being in G2 Blacklist is a whole lot more beneficial to him and to his players. He recounts, while giving credit to NGX for being a very good organization, he believes being in a team like G2 Blacklist that promotes player care and has all-out support helped them perform better.

“Personally, I felt happy and overwhelmed because we never expected to come here in the first place. When we were in Nigma Galaxy – and I say this – Nigma Galaxy is a very good organization of course – but it still is better to be in a Philippine-based esports organization. Nigma Galaxy is an international organization. It just feels different to represent an organization based here in my home country. That alone already feels so solid,” Coach Tgee said.

“They (bosses) talk directly to the players in such a way that we’re like close friends but there’s also a professional line between us and them, especially knowing that they’re part of the Blacklist backend staff. Once they’re there, we don’t feel heavy because even if they’re there watching us play, we get to talk to them in a nice way. I talk to them just like how we talk to anybody, same with the players – that’s how we interact. It’s really solid.”

By bosses, Tgee notes three key names in the Blacklist International organization, Jack Tamboboy, Senior Team Manager for Blacklist International, Arjay “Doms” Domdom, Tier One Entertainment’s head of esports, and their CEO himself – Tryke Gutierrez.

“They (Jack and Doms) are the ones who we talk to the most because in our entire WRL tournament journey, they talk to us every week. For me, it’s a good way to motivate the players. It still feels good to have supportive bosses around, bosses that are there for us.”

“As for Boss Tryke, we also get to talk to him whenever we can because as you know, he’s also busy, that’s why Boss Jack and Boss Doms are the ones we converse with the most. I’m thankful that during the entire WRL Asia journey, they were there for us no matter what – even if we lost one time, they were there and they talk to the players a lot,” Coach Tgee notes.

“I’m hugely thankful to them (G2 Blacklist/Blacklist International) and I’m happy they’re doing that because the players’ mindsets get refreshed. Here in G2B, I’m the head coach but I’m now alone, but the biggest difference is the organization handling us. Compared to Nigma, people focus on us more here. Now, we have someone to help us on matters outside the strategy and the game, there are people, staff who help me more.”

398233311 819589620168340 3204355124714480046 n

Fast forward to February 3, when all these changes were put to the test. Tgee and his players were playing from the Blacklist International facility in Metro Manila against KBG, who was in China.

As G2 Blacklist slugged it out against KBG with Tgee’s team taking Rounds 1 and 3, it dawned on him that this was a big step-up from the team compared to their first grand finals against KBG.

Keep Best Gaming won rounds 2, 4, and 5, but G2B bounced back in Game 6 to force a do-or-die Game 7.

“During those moments, we really need to give what we needed to give because we knew at the moment that we have a shot at winning the series. We gave our all – but we felt unlucky because during that time, the Blue Side was meta. We won in our Game 6 out of a best of seven, and KBG picked up the Game 7 blue side. That’s where it became difficult for the team before Game 7 so we had meetings, preparations, on what to do before we started and what champions to draft that time. There were a lot of champions, so many priorities that we can’t just ban everything. That was the most difficult part not just as a coach, but also for the players,” Tgee recounts.

Nevertheless, he calls this runner-up finish a huge step in the right direction compared to their last outing.

“It was really good for our part because compared to WRL-A1, we placed second but we got 0-4’ed by Keep Best Gaming. This time, before the Grand Finals struck, we knew we were more capable compared to WRL-A1. We were able to give everything, we did our best, we have no regrets. We felt unlucky that we still were at second place, but now, it’s at 4-3,” Tgee says.

367406360 742922587639507 6150070399152616981 n

Coach Tgee believes, due to the success his team and the Asian scene has had in Wild Rift, that Riot Games should once again reconsider holding a major world tournament for the said mobile game.

“I think for me, it’s really the time right now (to hold ICONS once again) because it’s been like, two years already since the last ICONS, ICONS 2022? So I think it’s really the best time to have ICONS this 2024 because that’s the biggest tournament (for Wild Rift). And you know, if you play mobile games like League of Legends: Wild Rift, it’s the most awaited tournament, ICONS.”

In 2023, ICONS was halted as Riot decided to focus solely on Asia for its Wild Rift esports operations. But, Coach Tgee hopes to see opponents from outside of their region soon.

“Right now because we’re waiting for the 2024 esports roadmap for Wild Rift, it looks good on the Western part of the world because tournaments started happening again in that part of the world. Hopefully, Riot Games or WRL would announce their tournament plans and host big tournaments and more tournaments for other regions. It’s what pro teams and pro players are all waiting for,” he says.

For now, Coach Tgee and the boys are preparing to get back into the grind, as they go back into the rift to forge their own winning path.

“I cannot say if we will win this time – but expect that G2 Blacklist Wild Rift team will be a better team compared to the last tournament. If you’re a fan of G2 Blacklist, Chammy will play in the next tournament,” he says.

And just like the proverbial Filipino esports athlete, Coach Tgee has nothing to say but gratitude to the fans – mostly coming from the nation he has repeatedly carried its flag in League of Legends and League of Legends: Wild Rift.

“Unang-una, nagpapasalamat ako sa mga supporters ng G2 Blacklist Wild Rift team – sa management namin, sa backend – sila boss Doms, sila boss Jack, sina boss Tryke and madami pang iba. Nagpapasalamat kami na binigyan ninyo kami ng opportunity sa G2 Blacklist team. Sa mga fans namin, sobrang thank you. Dahil kung wala kayo, wala rin kami dito. Kumbaga, malaking tulong din talaga yung suporta ng fans,” Coach Tgee ends.

[TRANSLATION: First of all, I would like to thank supporters of G2 Blacklist Wild Rift Team, our management, our backend – people like Boss Doms, Boss Jack, Boss Tryke, and many others. We are thankful that you gave us an opportunity here in the G2 Blacklist team. To our fans, thank you so much. Without you, we won’t be here. Your support is a very big help.] – PAOLO BARCELON, FRAGSTER.COM