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EXCLUSIVE: Team Vitality bares plans for MLBB esports

Team Vitality made headlines in the mobile esports world when they signed the Bigetron Era roster, currently the world’s... Paolo | 23. May 2024

Team Vitality made headlines in the mobile esports world when they signed the Bigetron Era roster, currently the world’s best female team for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

Vivian “Vivi” Indrawaty, Venny “Fumi” Lim, Viorelle “Vival” Chen, and the sister duo of Cindy “Cinny” Siswanto and Michelle “Chel” Siswanto can now call themselves part of Team Vitality, and are expected to represent the team for a longer period of time.

In an exclusive interview with Fragster.com, Danny Engels, Team Vitality’s Global Operations Director, said that they intend to work with the ladies for a period longer than the 2024 Esports World Cup.

“This isn’t a partnership, it’s a long-term team acquisition. Multi-year contracts with the players already show our willingness to make a long-term commitment,” Engels told Fragster in an email.

 

This is Vitality’s first foray into the Asian market, and they chose Mobile Legends: Bang Bang because their team believes it can help Vitality become more aware in other parts of the globe – especially in Indonesia, where MLBB competitions are highly-viewed events.

“While introducing MLBB to our own fans across Europe will certainly help, mobile gaming is still in its infancy in Europe. Part of the reason we signed this roster was to help raise our status in other parts of the world, and to develop new fans in new markets,” Engels said.

Vitality’s foray into the MLBB market could not have come at an opportune time. Based on data from global esports statistics provider Esports Charts, the 13th season of MPL Indonesia is already boasting huge strides in viewership – close to 2 million peak viewers alone as a season high.

Indonesia’s power in MLBB esports can also be underscored by the inclusion of Bahasa Indonesia streams even for its neighboring leagues such as MPL Philippines, highlighting the power of Indonesian audiences.  

HOW DID THE ACQUISITION COME TO FRUITION?

 

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Team Vitality representing Indonesia at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (Photo from Vivian Indrawaty/IG)

Engels revealed, Vitality had their sights set already on the powerhouse women’s team since January.

“As part of our research and scouting, we had been considering this team since the end of January. It is not often you come across a team in esports that has won every single tournament over a period of three years,” Engels told Fragster. 

“The team aligned with Team Vitality’s ethos of performance and elevating women in esports, alongside our ambitions for international growth. What accelerated the move was when we realized that their integration into Team Vitality could also work in our favour for the Esports World Cup.”

Team Vitality is one of 30 esports organizations that were selected for the Esports World Cup club support program, a program made by the Esports World Cup foundation designed to “promote the creation of sustainable infrastructure for multidisciplinary esports clubs.”

The program will grant esports organizations six-figure US dollar funding if they meet certain criteria. In Team Vitality’s case, they chose expansion towards the Asian and mobile gaming markets.

MEN’S MLBB TEAM, PLAYERS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES NOT PLANNED AT THE MOMENT: ENGELS

 

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Roster acquisition announcement (Photo from Team Vitality/IG)

At the moment though, Engels confirmed that they will not sign a men’s counterpart for their Mobile Legends: Bang Bang efforts, instead focusing on the powerhouse women’s team, which has already qualified for the 2024 MLBB Women’s Invitational – part of the Esports World Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Although we continue to take a close look at the ecosystem, there are no concrete plans to do so at the moment. Our decision-making process is careful and considerate – every choice we make must be intelligent and make sense for the fans, the players, and the club,” Engels told Fragster.

“What’s more, we still have a lot to learn about the fanbase and culture in Southeast Asia – it’s a really different ecosystem but very interesting.  We hope to learn more about it alongside our women’s MLBB roster. Ultimately, it’s this kind of experience that will help us make informed and authentic choices for future acquisitions,” Engels said.

 

They also revealed that they do not intend to recruit players from neighboring MLBB powerhouses at the moment, such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, and current men’s world champions, the Philippines.

“Currently, there’s no need – our new MLBB team is the best! For us, there is no reason to change anything right now and we want to support each player for as long as possible. What we will do is keep an eye on the market for when certain opportunities arise and if that leads us to neighboring countries it will be very similar to how MPL teams form their rosters as well,” Engels said.

PREPARATIONS FOR THE LADIES

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Vivian during her media day in Paris and meeting ZywOo (Photo from Vivian Indrawaty/IG)

Engels has revealed that preparations and transitions have already started, and that these processes are going “very well” for both Vitality and their newest top-dollar acquisitions.

“We’ve received incredible feedback from current and new fans across the world. Even though the team is physically further away, we will do our utmost to ensure the players feel truly integrated,” Engels said.

True enough, Vivian was sent to Paris for a media day and to visit their V.Hive performance facility, as well as meeting Vitality’s star CS2 athlete, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut.

However, Engels said, they will aim to try and continue the ladies’ dominance in global women’s MLBB.

“Fun aside, we’re not forgetting that we’re all here to win trophies. Our main objective for the team this year is to show their dominance internationally at the EWC, and locally to compete with the other male teams in the MDL. Team Vitality will support the team with their performance by providing a dedicated analyst alongside the skills and experience of our seasoned coaching staff,” Engels said.

 

Earlier, Ilham “Susugajah” Hadi was announced as Team Vitality MLBB’s head coach, being assisted by Dewa “Dewa” Fabian.

In the end, Engels says, the move reflects on Vitality’s commitment to elevating women’s esports. This is Vitality’s second women’s team, the second focused on a MOBA, and their first mobile acquisition, after League of Legends team Rising Bees was also acquired prior.

“This acquisition reflects our own commitment to elevating women in gaming, developing women’s esports, and encouraging diversity across the ecosystem,” Engels ended.

Team Vitality MLBB is expected to compete in its first pro outing as the first all-women’s pro team in Indonesia to be part of the main MDL Indonesia Season 10, as well as their sure participation in the Esports World Cup. – PAOLO BARCELON, FRAGSTER.COM