KarlTzy Used A ‘Teknik’ on His Lola So He Could Play

We look into the sweet bond between grandmother and grandson. 

Every day, millions of Filipino children miss their parents, who sacrifice time away from their families by working abroad as Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs. An estimated ten percent of Filipino children have OFW parents. KarlTzy was part of that statistic. 

Born in 2004, Karl Nepomuceno, aka KarlTzy, could barely speak when his parents left for Dubai. KarlTzy was only four years old. And just like the millions of Filipino children whose parents are working overseas, KarlTzy was left in the hands of his grandmother. 

“Sobrang grabe po ang pagmamahal ko sa Lola ko. Dati po kasing OFWs ang mga magulang ko, kaya si Lola Benny ang nag-alaga sa akin hanggang makatapos ako ng Grade 6,” KarlTzy tells ALL-STAR Magazine

KarlTzy was already 11 years old when his parents came home from Dubai. 

“Hindi ko po talaga malilimutan yung pag-alaga niya sa amin, pag-asikaso niya sa amin tuwing papasok sa school,” said KarlTzy. 

(“I really love my Grandma. My parents used to work overseas, that’s why Lola Benny was the one who raised me until I finished Grade 6. I will never forget the way she took care of us and attended to us to get us ready for school in the morning.”)


KarlTzy Used A ‘Teknik’ On His Lola

Just like many grandmothers, Lola Benny would dote on her grandson but was also careful not to spoil the grandchildren—she was the guardian not only of KarlTzy and his sister but also of nearly all of their cousins from Lola Benny’s five children. 

KarlTzy with his grandmother, Lola Benny
KarlTzy with Lola Benny. Photo courtesy of Karina Nepomuceno
Lola Benny, maternal grandmother of MLBB pro player  Karl Nepomuceno.
Lola Benny, maternal grandmother of KarlTzy. Photo courtesy of Karina Nepomuceno

Curious, we asked KarlTzy if his septuagenarian grandma had ever spanked him. 

“Syempre po!” 

KarlTzy could not contain his laughter when he said it. He looked as if he remembered a core memory. 

“Madalas po dahil sa kakahingi ko po ng twelve pesos para mag computer. Isang oras po iyon sa computer shop,” KarlTzy said, suppressing laughter. 

But Lola Benny would not always give KarlTzy twelve pesos. Most of the time, she needed a bit of persuasion. 

“Sasabihin ko, ‘Mi, pahingi twelve.’ Tapos, kapag hindi niya ako binigyan, iiyak ako ng mga isang oras, magtatampo ako. Tapos bibigyan na niya ako!”

KarlTzy looked at us, half-laughing, before adding, “Teknik iyon!” 

(“Of course! I would always ask for twelve pesos so I could play at internet cafes. That’s good for one hour. I would tell Lola Benny, ‘Mi, please give me twelve.’ If she refused, I would cry for an hour until she gave me twelve pesos. That’s a technique!”)

He laughed as he recalled these moments. We asked if Lola Benny ever hindered him from playing video games. 

“Opo, syempre. Pero madalas, hinahayaan niya lang din ako kasi okay naman yung grades ko dati kahit hindi ako masyado nagre-review.”

(“Of course. But often, she just let me be because my grades were high even if I did not study so much.”)

A gush of memories returns to KarlTzy as he remembers the days in the computer shop. Many days, he was among a throng of children waiting for their turns for a seat at one of the units in a rundown internet cafe. If they were not playing on the computers, they would be roaming outside. Childhood was a bliss.

KarlTzy and his special bond with Lola Benny, his grandmother
Karl Nepomuceno, aka KarlTzy. Photo: Greg Mayo for ALL-STAR Magazine.

‘Yung Apo Ko, World Champion!’

Although Lola Benny watches all of KarlTzy’s matches, the family had to limit her attendance at the live audience for safety reasons. 

“Kapag ako raw po ang naglalaro, kabado daw po siya. Kinukwento niya po sa akin na sobrang nate-tense daw po siya. Hindi niya po naiintindihan yung laro pero sobrang kinakabahan siya. Pero alam niya kung sino ako sa mapa, nakikita niya yung pangalan ko,” said KarlTzy. “Sobrang saya po sa pakiramdam tuwing nanonood siya.”

(Whenever I play, she gets nervous. She always tells me how she gets tense. She doesn’t understand the game but she sees me on the map, she sees my name. It feels great whenever she watches.”)

While Lola Benny gets nervous on game days, she is very chill when it comes to KarlTzy’s bashers. 

“Nakikita naman po ni Lola Benny yung mga fans ko at palagi niyang sinasabi sa akin na sobrang proud siya. Kung may mga bashers naman, sinasabi lang niya na hayaan ko lang sila. Sasabihin niya, ‘Mas magaling ka naman doon! Hayaan mo na!’”

(“She sees how the fans engage with me and she’s always proud about that. If there are bashers, she just tells me to ignore them. ‘You’re better than them,’ she’d say.”)

It is always a racket during family reunions. Lola Benny would brag about KarlTzy to her friends and her kin. 

“Sinasabi niya, ‘Yung apo ko, World Champion!’

KarlTzy could not contain his laughter at this point. 

“Nakaktawa po na medyo nakakahiya!”

(“She would say, ‘My grandson is a World Champion!’ It’s funny and a bit embarrassing!”)

Lessons From Lola Benny, According to KarlTzy

Lola Benny visits Karl in the boot camp during his birthday in 2023.
Lola Benny visits KarlTzy at the boot camp. Photo courtesy of Karina Nepomuceno

Like many grandmothers, Lola Benny is a family matriarch whose life revolves around prayer and caring for her family and grandchildren. She is everyone’s support system in raising the grandkids because the parents are away—which is why KarlTzy grew up with his cousins in one house. 

One of the things Lola Benny dutifully ingrained in KarlTzy is the habit of prayer. 

“Noong nasa grade school pa lang ako, palagi rin kaming nagro-rosary sa bahay araw-araw. Madami po kasi kaming magkakasama dati, anim po kaming magpipinsan, siya po nag-aalaga. Sabay-sabay kaming nagdadasal ng rosary,” said KarlTzy. 

(“When I was in grade school, we would always pray the rosary at home every day. We were many inside the house, there were six of us who were cousins, and she took care of all of us. We all prayed the rosary together.”)

Another lesson from Lola Benny is humility. 

KarlTzy and his special bond with Lola Benny, his grandmother
Karl Nepomuceno, aka KarlTzy. Photo: Greg Mayo for ALL-STAR Magazine.

“Huwag lalaki ang ulo mo ha!” (“Don’t be arrogant!”) is a frequent line of Lola Benny, who impressed upon KarlTzy that no matter how successful he becomes or how many tournaments he wins or how many fans he has, he should always be respectful to everyone. 

But the most important lesson was the Fourth Commandment. Honor thy father and thy mother. 

In the absence of KarlTzy’s parents, who were working hard in Dubai to be able to provide for the family, Lola Benny made sure that KarlTzy’s affection for his parents was not lost even if they were far away. 

“Lagi ko raw po mahalin ang magulang ko,” KarlTzy tells ALL-STAR Magazine

(“She tells me to always honor my parents.”)

As the eldest child, KarlTzy makes sure he sets a good example for his younger sister in honoring their parents. He is obedient and respectful toward his mother and father, and would always treat them from time to time. Food is always a welcome excuse to be together, so Karl would always treat the family to culinary experiences here and there. 

Everything Changed When KarlTzy Made It To Pro

When KarlTzy made it as a professional esports player at 14 years old, everything changed. He was young and did not know what he’ll be giving up for a career in esports. We asked about a memory he will not forget with Lola Benny, it was so familiar that it was special, even if it was just an ordinary day. 

“Nakaka-miss po yung mga araw na gigisingin niya ako para maghandang pumasok sa school, tapos malakas ang ulan, tapos wala palang pasok. Ipagluluto niya kami ng breakfast. Iyon ang mga hindi ko malilimutan,” said KarlTzy. 

(“I miss the days when she would wake us up in the morning to get ready for school, but there’s heavy rain, and school is canceled. She would cook breakfast for us. I will never forget those days.”)

Apart from sacrificing time away from his family, KarlTzy realized that he also sacrificed his youth and his time away from his high school friends. 

“Na-sacrifice ko po talaga yung youth ko po. Feel ko sobrang aga kong nag pro. Nagsimula ako 14 years old,” said Karl Tzy. 

(“I sacrificed my youth. I feel like I started as a pro too early. I was 14.”)

KarlTzy enumerated the things he missed out on as a regular teenager, including hanging out with friends, partying, attending gigs, and basically living a normal life as a teenager. He feels like the best of his years were spent on his career. And even as a professional player with the wherewithal to buy anything he wants, he just does not have time to enjoy them. 

“Itong PC ko,” he points to the setup in front of him, where moments ago, he was doing a livestream, “pangarap ko to dati. Pero hindi ako makalaro masyado kasi walang time. Ganun din sa PlayStation 5 ko rito, hindi ko malaro. Walang time.”

(“This PC. This was my dream. But I can’t use it much to play, I have no time. The same goes for my PlayStation 5 here. I have no time to play on it.”)

There was a bit of regret in his voice when he said those things. 

“Nanghihinayang lang ako.”

. . . 

“Pero okay lang!” KarlTzy beams. “Masaya naman ako dito eh!”

And Now, Because of Twelve Pesos…

Lola Benny is arguably KarlTzy’s preeminent fan and enabler, for all those times she gave him twelve pesos so her grandson could play, not knowing it would lead to him becoming an esports player. 

“Sobrang supportive po si Mi. Kung ano ang gusto ko, doon rin po siya. Sa una pa lang, sinuportahan niya ako sa esports. Ang payo lang niya, galingan ko lang palagi at makisama ako nang maayos.”

(“She is very supportive. Whatever I want, she is behind me. Even at the very beginning, she already supported my career in esports. Her only advice was for me to do my best and be a good sport with everyone.”)

Lola Benny’s countless donations of P12 to the cause of KarlTzy’s computer gaming would still echo profoundly in the two-time M-Series World Champion, as he now dreams of building his own internet cafe and computer shop. 

“Mayroon akong pangarap na kaya ko naman nang gawin pero ayaw ko pa. Gusto ko magkaroon ng computer shop. Ang dami ko ring nakikitang mga vlogs, at na-inspire din ako kay Sanji kasi may computer shop siya. Ang gusto kong computer shop ay sobrang ganda talaga. Napanood niyo na po ba yung palabas na The King’s Avatar? Gusto ko ng mga ganoong PC. Sobrang high-end! Pati mga upuan, napakaganda,” KarlTzy said. 

KarlTzy was referring to Alston Pabico, aka Sanji, who is his teammate in ECHO.

KarlTzy and Sanji of ECHO pose for ALL-STAR Magazine in February 2024.
KarlTzy and Sanji. Photo: Greg Mayo for ALL-STAR Magazine

(“I have a dream, which I can achieve anytime but I’m still taking my time. I want to have a computer shop. I watch a lot of vlogs about it, and I am inspired by my teammate Sanji because he’s recently set up his own computer shop. But I want a computer shop that’s absolutely premium and beautiful. Have you seen the show The King’s Avatar? That’s what I want. Really high-end PCs and gaming chairs.”)

As KarlTzy was saying these things, he did not realize he was talking animatedly and was more excited. He even leaned forward when he was talking about it. 

“Why do you want a high-end computer shop?” we asked.

“Gusto ko po ng high-end set up kasi alam ko po yung feeling na maglaro sa pangit…”

It was experiencing what kind of service P12 could offer in an internet cafe that KarlTzy knew gamers deserve more than having access to the internet and playing on shitty PCs. 

“Kasi, yung iba, ubos na yung pera nila pero hindi pa rin nakakalaro. Madalas, ten minutes na ang nasayang, nag-uupdate pa rin yung computer,” said KarlTzy. 

(“I want a high-end computer shot because I know what it’s like to play in a rundown setup. Some players waste their money waiting for the PC to load. They’d often waste ten minutes waiting for the computer’s updates.”)

KarlTzy smiles as he imagines the look of the computer shop of his dreams. 

On the desk where KarlTzy was playing, there were a couple of coins, probably his change from a food delivery he ordered through Grab. They were more than P12 but KarlTzy hadn’t really noticed. It’s been a very long time since he asked for “twelve” anyway. 

KarlTzy opens up about his special bond with his grandmother, Lola Benny
Karl Nepomuceno, aka KarlTzy. Photo: Greg Mayo for ALL-STAR Magazine

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