Homecoming: Liyab Jurrasiq’s Journey back to the Philippines
Everyone has a story to tell.
Team Liyab’s Robert “Jurassiq” Mabansag is an anomaly in the local League of Legends scene. While he was born in Manila, he spent the majority of his life in North America and is thus the Philippines’ first Western import. An import that isn’t exactly an import.
Jurrasiq brings with him a unique take on the game built by years of playing in one of the world’s major regions. In his short time back, the marksman has already risen up the ranked leaderboards and made a name for himself.
As one of the biggest names to enter the local scene in recent years, all eyes are on Jurrasiq to see if he can help bring the Philippines back into international relevancy. The finals of the Philippine Pro Gaming League this weekend will be his first test, and the road only gets steeper from there.
But how did he get here in the first place?
Jurassiq’s path to pro in League of Legends started four to five years back in 2014. Like many pros before him, he first stepped into gaming playing classics like Defense of the Ancients, Halo and Call of Duty. When League started, Jurassiq took a turn on Summoner’s Rift from his cousin’s computer and from then on, the grind has never stopped.
Most esports talents start in their teens, so when Jurrasiq made his debut at the age of 21, he was considered a late bloomer. He didn’t let that stop him at any point. By consistently getting account after account on the challenger ladder from his home in Chicago, he made a name for himself in North America’s amateur scene. He even joined Zenith Esports and won $5000 in the Wichita Esports LAN with the team.
With his win in the tournament, Jurassiq’s competitive desire was ignited and he went on to join Team Gates with famed streamer Trick2G. Despite falling 0-3 to CLG Black in the Challenger Series (put year here), his fire burned only brighter and was inspired to go even further.
Not too long after, Jurassiq joined Team Sky, a then up-and-coming five-man with veteran Zachary “Mancloud” Hoschar and current Cloud9 jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang. Together with Korean jungler Ssita, they dominated the Challenger series until Riot’s announcement to move towards franchising for the NA League of Legends Championship Series.
Despite not getting a chance to prove himself as a player by qualifying for LCS, he continued to persevere. Eventually, he landed a contract Golden Guardians (the Golden State Warriors’ LCS affiliate) as the Bot Laner for their Academy League team.
In a turn for the worst, GGS Academy fumbled from the get go by failing to secure their planned roster with Ashkan “TF Blade” Homayouni and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidamas a starters for the 2018 season. Partly due to this, the squad then fell 2-16 with a 10th place finish in their first-ever split.
Despite their regretful performance, Jurassiq still owed it to Golden Guardians for helping him grow and giving him his first real esports experience. “We were living in this big house, they were delivering us food everyday,” he said. “They asked us what we wanted and then we got it and it was crazy.”
Nevertheless, Jurassiq continued pushing onwards. As Scouting Grounds (the annual rookie scouting tournament) came around that year, he was the first seed in his role in the tournament. If past Scouting Grounds were anything to go by, doing well there would unlock so many opportunities. Unfortunately, him and his teammates at Team Ocean went home with an 0-6 record. This was a disappointment for the Fil-Am himself and all those who expected him to shine given his experience.
It was all starting to look rough for Jurrasiq as 2018 came to a close. With last place finishes in the Academy League and Scouting Grounds, things could have been better.
It wouldn’t be until 2019 that Jurrasiq made a resurgence. The Team Ocean core of him, Aetheres, and Winter bounced back and dominated the Pro-Am scene with style, winning the Upsurge Premier League, the P1 Elite Series Seasons 1 and 2, and BIG League Season 1. Their efforts eventually led them to be picked by the legendary Hai Lam’s organization Radiance, where they would then be known as one of the best non-LCS teams in North America.
Jurrasiq’s in-game name of “Hardest Worker”, reminiscent of Olleh’s “Humble Diligent”, is a stamp of how he has risen to the upper echelons of competitive play with sheer hard work. His former teammates even mention how he works above and beyond what’s necessary, considering the number of Challenger accounts he’s had.
LIYAB: INTO THE FUTURE
Heading into 2020, Jurassiq wanted a change in pace and to return to his roots. Having been born in the Philippines but leaving for America at the age of six, he’s always been proud of his culture and eager to represent the country in professional play.
A frequent visitor due to family still living in the country, Jurassiq already knew how life was like in the country. As esports further developed locally, his interest for returning only stronger. When he learned of Globe and Mineski’s esports initiative in Liyab, he knew that it was the organization to go if he did decide to move to the country. Unlike most local teams, Liyab took a more international approach to esports with a full coaching team, high-end facilities and sizeable funding.
Almost a month Jurassiq was seen at Globe Conquerors Manila 2019, his welcome announcement was made on the 22nd of November.
Jurassiq has since acclimated into Liyab, finding a newfound brotherhood in up-and-coming jungler Edrian “DoeDoii” Brancia and the team in general. He believes that with his presence, the Philippines could very well return to the international stage.
“DoeDoii’s kind of like my little brother now,” said Jurassiq. “If I was to stay on the team the next year, I think there’s a high chance that we would make it to Worlds.”
STAYING ON THE GRIND
Liyab’s coach Akarawat “Cabbage” Wangsawat strongly suggested that the players take a break from playing in the offseason, but because of their desire to stay on top of the curve, they joined season 3 of the PPGL 2019.
Preparing as much as they can in the drought of the offseason, Jurassiq is working tirelessly to implement the strategies he learned from playing in North America. From improving their macro to guiding the team’s playstyle, Jurassiq and Liyab hope to reclaim the PPGL throne the team lost last season.
One series away from his first Philippine championship, Jurassiq is working just as hard to turn his dream into reality – taking one step forward to take the first trophy that hopefully leads him to the rest.
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