What’s in a name? Getting to know Kelra, Smart Omega’s prized gold laner

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Kelra

Alamin ang istorya sa likod ng pangalan ng batang MVP ng MSC 2021

The Mobile Legends team of Smart Omega Esports (formerly Execration) has been having a phenomenal year. Last May, they finished a win shy of claiming the MPL-PH Season 7 crown. They more than made up for it later by snatching the prestigious MSC 2021 title against the same Blacklist International squad in June. A cornerstone for their marvelous performance was 16-year Duane “Kelra” Pillas. 

We caught up with the MVP of MSC 2021 and he was game to share about his humble beginnings, his thoughts on MPL-PH S8, and the story behind his familiar-sounding name.

From LoL to ML

Bago sumabak sa MLBB pro-gaming scene, dati ng paboritong laruin ni Kelra ang League of Legends o LoL. Pero paano nga ba sya napunta sa Mobile Legends?

Kelra: “Nakita ko po yung pinsan ko naglalaro ng ML. Tapos inaya po niya ako na maglaro,” Kelra explains. 

He adds that MLBB is quite similar to LoL so the transition was quite easy. Several MLBB pro-gamers in the Philippines also share the same experience. Kinwento rin ni Kelra kung pano sya na-scout ng Exe upang mapabilang sya sa kanilang team. 

Kelra: “Dati ko na pong nakalaban sila Ch4knu sa isang tournament sa Lucena. 14 (years old) pa lang po ata ako non. Umabot po kami ng finals tapos naka-una po kami (ng panalo). Maganda po ang performance namin non at don po nila ako na-scout.”

Kelra was placed twice in Execration’s Team 2, but decided to opt out because their practice sessions were quite long. During his second stint for Team 2, he was put in the lineup for Work Auster Force.

Third time’s a charm

Sa pangatlong pagkakataon, inalok na si Kelra mismo ni Billy ‘Z4pnu’ Alfonso na maging ‘main five’ ng Exe at doon na nga nagsimula ang kanyang kampanya bilang isang professional esports player. “Masaya po ako at kinakabahan non kasi mga idol ko po sila, lalu na si Kuya Billy” he adds. The humble teen was quick to add that playing with (Billy) is a dream come true. “Dati pinapangarap ko lang, ngayon andito na ako.” 

Breadwinner kahit selpon ng selpon!

When his parents learned about him getting accepted to Execration, they were all very supportive. “Grab mo na yan kasi sayang yung opportunity.”

Isa pang bagay na talaga namang nakakahanga kay Kelra ay ang pagiging breadwinner nito. Kung dati puro ‘selpon ka ng selpon!’ ang naririnig nya mula sa kanyang nanay, ngayon ay masasabi na nyang nakakatulong na sya sa kanilang pamilya. At isa sa mga pangarap ni Kelra ang maipaayos ang kanilang bahay, pangarap na natupad ng dahil sa pagiging pro-gamer. “Sobrang saya lang po talaga.”

Kelra2

Kelra is all psyched and ready for MPL-PH S8! Photo from Smart Omega Esports Facebook.

From Exe to Smart Omega

As a gold laner for Smart Omega Esports, Kelra’s main heroes include Wanwan, Harith, and Alice. With the recent change in their team name, it was evident that our ‘lodi’ will take a little getting used to mentioning Smart Omega over Execration. 

“Nag-aadjust pa rin po kami sa bagong (team) name namin. Pero mababait naman po ang mga tao dito.” But Kelra admits that he still misses the old Execration, most especially their hashtag ‘ExeShot’ as the team introduces a new one with #OneShotOmega.

Kelra Knightley

Sobrang curious kami kung ano ang istorya sa likod ng pangalang ‘Kelra’. Nang tanungin namin sya tungkol sa kanyang IGN, bigla na lamang napangiti sabay kamot ulo si lodi: 

Kelra: “Sa artista po talaga sa ibang bansa yun. Keira po talaga yun, Keira Knightley.”

He further explains that he’s been using Keira as his IGN way back his League days. But most people would read it as ‘Keira’ for it was spelled with a capital ‘i’ (KeIra). That prompted him to finally change it to Kelra (with the ‘L’).

Super Rookie

We asked Kelra how he feels about being dubbed as a Super Rookie. He remained discreet.

Kelra: “Syempre po masaya, pero hindi ko naman po ine-expect yun. Akala ko nga po malalaglag kami sa MPL kasi diba po nagka losing streak kami. Akala namin malas kami haha! Hindi ko rin po ineexepect na magcha-champion kami sa MSC at mag-MVP.”

As for their stint in MSC 2021 where Execration rose all the way from the lower bracket to reach the finals, Kelra was confident that they can win this time against Blacklist International. Dating back on their epic seven-game clash in MPL-PH S7, Kelra pointed out that that they used that defeat as their motivation to capture the MSC title.

Kelra: “Reding-ready na kami! Mainit po kami eh, (kasi) natalo (nila) kami sa MPL. Nabasa na rin po namin yung galaw nila (referring to Blacklist’s UBE or Ultimate Bonding Experience strategy), kaya po bina-ban na namin yung Estes at Aldous. Yun po kasi yung key to victory nila.”

With the momentum going their way from playing straight games, it was clear that Execration was raring for sweet revenge. True to form, the deciding Game 5 saw Kelra flexing his dominance, getting 15 Kills with his Chang’e (not his comfort pick!) to lead Execration to victory. It was also the most memorable game yet for his young career.

Bawing-bawi na kami!

May nanalo na.