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eSports Spotlight: PVP Super Friends

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Tank Commanders,

The eSports Spotlight series returns with a new team: PVP Super Friends! Hailing from the Philippines, this team first blazed into the limelight by becoming champions at TanksAsia Masters Season 2 and they've been impressing us ever since.

You see their names all the time, but how are they really like when they're not competing to be the best World of Tanks team in Asia?

Watch the video above to see them in action, then scroll down below for the full scoop. Enjoy!

PVP Super Friends

The Team:
  • Batman
  • Dustinulopong
  • Anutoh
  • _Robin
  • Ayswuter
  • Antare
  • Littlemac
  • Tedamaru
  • Hydrorex


The Cowboys of Asia

If you had - by some stroke of luck - the chance to spot a member of Team PVP Super Friends across the street in the Philippines, you would most likely assume that he works a normal job, comes home to his family and hangs out with friends in the weekends, a nobody, in other words.

You couldn't have been more wrong.

Recognised as one of the top teams in Asia at the moment, Team PVP SF has acquired a legion of followers that are behind them every step of the way. And there's a reason behind it - for fans of Batman (arguably PVP's star player) and the team, what they like about them is their ability to have fun even when they're in the midst of the biggest World of Tanks tournaments in the region.

One might assume that this lassiez-faire attitude towards the competitive scene can seem offputting by other professional teams, but all signs point to the contrary: PVP maintains cordial to great relations with their peers. And even if they aren't well received, it's not really a problem. "We try not to think about what other teams think of us," says Robin, manager of the team. "We just do our thing and let them do their thing."

PVP SF Begins

The origins of this professional World of Tanks eSports team began as most of them do: within clans and platoons.

As one of the biggest clans in the Asia server, clan PVP (Philippine Vanguards of Peace) attracted many players to joining their cause. Under one united banner, the members of what would be known as PVP Super Friends found themselves playing together more often than not. "The team was formed through friendship and lots of late night platooning sessions," Robin says. It wasn't long before they began identifying themselves as a single entity.

But while creating a team is easy, being a good team proved particularly difficult for PVP Super Friends during the earliest days. "Playing as a team at first was difficult; we had to adjust to each player's individual strengths and weaknesses. Even though we were platooning on a daily basis, moving as a full team of 7 wasn't as easy as we first thought."

Despite these troubling first days, they soon gained enough skills or confidence to start trying their luck in their very first tournament. The first major Asian tournament - TanksAsia Masters Open Season - was accepting registrations at the time, and PVP Super Friends signed themselves up. They would be the second of two teams fielded by clan PVP.

It may sound ridiculous now, but the team back then had entertained few thoughts of becoming champion before the tournament began. "At first, we didn't really aim for the top spot - we just wanted the gold!" Robin says, "But we got lucky and made it to the Round of 16, so we won some money! Woot!" Their path to the finals was severed by a defeat from RTA-E, ending their journey prematurely.

But this only served to whet the appetite of PVP Super Friends, who would return with a vengeance.

Champions of Asia

TanksAsia Masters S2 in late 2013 is said by some to be the start of PVP Super Friends' meteoric rise to the top, but the one thing nobody realised was that none of them ever truly expected to become the winners. "It felt like a dream!" Robin says as he recalled the sequence of events leading up to that moment. "At first, most of us were just happy to be in Singapore and we thought it was just going to be a one-time thing for our team, but Batman is always the man with a plan - we just did what he ordered us to do and won!"

But even Robin knows that it wasn't all smooth-sailing to the top. At one point, the team's fate was practically hanging by a thread as they found themselves in the lower bracket of the playoffs stage; if they lose, they would be out of the tournament entirely. The happy-go-lucky attitude vanished at that point, replaced with a deep anxiety instead. "The pressure was intense! We eventually made it safely to the semi-finals and had a real shot at the championship and a free trip to Singapore, but yes, we were at the edge of our seats and biting our fingernails at the time.

The rest, as they say, is history.

PVP Super Friends eventually became the winner of TanksAsia Masters S2, and with it a generous sum of prize money that was distributed between the team. One might expect that they blew it all on fancy dinners and the like, but as it turned out, the boys from PVP SF were far more savvy than that.

Most of them used the money to buy things needed at home, or to pay for rent, bills, even tuition and examination fees. Robin in particular paid off his wedding and his daughter's 1st birthday party entirely with his winnings from the tournament. But of course, they also saved enough to reward themselves. The most common expenditure was to replace their aging PCs with new and updated hardware.

Apart from the money however, the team also found a certain confidence in their achievement. "We finally proved to people and to ourselves that eSports is real."

Warsaw: Stepping to the International Stage

Soon after the conclusion of TanksAsia Masters S2, another call-to-arms was sounded. Wargaming would be holding another World of Tanks tournament, but this time only the best teams in the world would be invited to Warsaw, Poland, where they will fight in an international tournament the scale of which has never been seen before in World of Tanks.

Each region was required to present their best teams to represent themselves. Asia selected two: UAD and PVP Super Friends. Robin recalls the moment when he heard the news. "[I was] beyond words," he said. "We were going head-to-head with teams that we would only watch on livestreams! It is to this day our greatest achievement as a team."

At Warsaw, the Super Friends found themselves going up against the toughest opponents they had ever faced. UAD, their only Asian counterpart in the tournament (and incidentally the winner of TanksAsia Masters Open Season) unfortunately bowed out of the tournament on the first day after a string of losses.

As the sole surviving team from Asia, PVP Super Friends did their very best to remain in the competition, eventually surviving their first day and moving up to the playoffs stage. At this point, even their peers from other regions were starting to take notice of this clear underdog. Who are these guys with such wild tactics? Why is 'Batman' and 'Robin' in the team? And why is he wearing a mask on stage?

PVP SF eventually finished 4th Place in the tournament, just one more victory shy of becoming 3rd place. Although they didn't end up in the Top 3 of the tournament charts, Robin is clearly satisfied with the results. "I think we could have done better," he maintains, "but fighting against the best of the best? 4th Place isn't that bad. But if we did more research and trained harder, maybe, just maybe we could get 3rd. But overall we never expected to go that far; we were afterall THE vacation team!"

Whatever their thoughts on the matter, one thing is for certain: with their achievement, PVP Super Friends are slowly turning eyes onto the Asian scene for World of Tanks. Who knows what could be achieved in the next international tournament?

PVP SF joins Razer's fold

 A few months after their showing at Warsaw, the Super Friends received yet another piece of good news: Razer, the globally-recognised purveyor of gaming hardware and accessories, is offering them sponsorship support.

It may sound insignificant to the average person, but for the team it was an amazing prospect. "[It] is a great honour!" Robin says. "Most of the team are actually Razer fanboys, so to be sponsored by Razer... dang! It felt like nothing could go wrong!"

The sponsorship has indeed been kind to them. Now that they are provided with access to any Razer gear they desire, Robin happily reports that the team's gameplay has increased across the board. "Gone are the days where we had to rely on unreliable mice, keyboards and headsets with static."

The present-day: WGL APAC-Asia S2 and beyond

PVP Super Friends has admittedly stumbled ever so slightly in their most recent outings. The team had just returned from China after participating in WCA 2014. "[It's] probably the lowest point of our team's history, along with the WGL APAC-Asia S2 playoffs." In China, they found themselves outplayed by opponents who had been practicing constantly, mindful of the fact that PVP Super Friends posed a substantial threat.

To make matters worse, the WGL APAC-Asia S2 playoffs were in progress at the same time, and had to be held online while they were still in China. Fraught with a series of debilitating connection problems due to their location, the team experienced constant disconnections and unresponsive controls throughout the entire ordeal.The last straw came when they were battling against old rivals Team Efficiency in the lower brackets, the winner of which would have one more chance at going to the Grand Finals. The problems started again right from the first game onwards, allowing their opponents to claim a quick victory. It was too much to bear for PVP SF. "We forfeited the game in the lower bracket since our team can hardly stay connected to the game." With that, the former champions abandoned all claim to the prize, bested by circumstances beyond their control.

But things don't stay gloomy in the Super Friends' camp. After the event was done, they soon returned to their playful selves, laughing and joking away. A close contact with the team once noted that 'they're almost always in high spirits. They take their matches seriously when they're out to win, but outside of that they're always ready for a laugh and to have fun.' In fact, it's probably this quality that brings in the fans.

And what of the future? "As long as Batman is there to lead us," Robin says, "we will continue the fight! The team is nothing without Batman."

Whatever their path leads, we wish them the best of luck.

The Team