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Who is Louis, MPL’s Cebuano Heartthrob?

There is a shy boy hiding in the backstage of Smart Omega’s holding area. Hailing from Cebu, Smart Omega’s Louis Gabriel Ariola could not believe he is now sharing the stage with the world’s strongest esports athletes. With a stroke of his hand, he parts his hair to one side, revealing his piercing eyes and a deep-set dimple on his left cheek. On social media, people have been comparing the Cebuano Heartthrob’s looks to Kairi Rayosdelsol, the Filipino Sky King of Indonesia. 

But who is Louis and how did he end up in esports? 

Louis Gabriel Ariola. Photo: Richard Esguerra for ALL-STAR
Louis Gabriel Ariola. Photo: Richard Esguerra for ALL-STAR
Louis Gabriel Ariola. Photo: Richard Esguerra for ALL-STAR
Louis Gabriel Ariola. Photo: Richard Esguerra for ALL-STAR

“Athlete po ako sa track and field. Nagko-compete po ako sa nationals. Bata pa po ako, competitive na po ako sa kung anong gusto kong gawin. Sa computer games, kahit anong laruin namin, kung sino malakas sa lugar doon, kaya kong makipagsabayan,” Louis told ALL-STAR

Louis Gabriel Ariola
Louis Gabriel Ariola, 3K Milo Marathon Champion. Photo: Courtesy of Louis Gabriel Ariola

“Pangarap ko po dati maging kasali sa Philippine team ng track and field. Long-distance runner po ako,” Louis added. “Bata pa lang ako, ang mga nakakasabay ko mga varsity sa college.”

(“I’m an athlete in track and field. I competed at nationals. Ever since I was young, I already had that competitive drive in whatever I wanted to do. In computer games, I always sought out the best in the neighborhood so I could beat them. It was my dream to compete for the Philippine team in track and field. I was a long-distance runner. Even as a kid, I would race against college varsity teams.”)

Louis was 13 years old when he competed at nationals and Milo, in which he bested better-trained athletes from college varsities. He finished 3,000 meters at the Milo Marathon race, and 1,500 meters for the nationals. 

“Nag-stop lang po ang career ko sa track and field dahil lang po sa COVID-19. Sa labas po kasi ang training namin, tapos bawal po lumabas ang mga bata. Sayang po.” 

(“My career in track and field stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We used to train outdoors, but since kids weren’t allowed outside, we stopped. What a waste.”)

Now 16 years old, Louis claims he only discovered Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) when he was 14 years old. 

Louis on Getting Trash Talked for Being Bisaya

Louis Gabriel Ariola. Photo: Richard Esguerra for ALL-STAR
Louis Gabriel Ariola. Photo: Richard Esguerra for ALL-STAR

Louis is proud that he is Cebuano and Bisaya. But if you’ve played enough MOBA or MLBB, one of the toxic traits you’d witness from Filipinos is using the term “Bisaya” negatively to disparage Bisaya people. 

As the lone Bisaya and Cebuano in the MPL scene, does Louis get offended when someone calls him “Bisaya” during ranked games? 

“Kapag tinatrashtalk ako, hindi ako naaapektuhan. Iniisip ko lang na joke lang ang mga ganoon. Pag Bisaya, bobo? Di naman totoo iyon eh! Oh ano naman kung Bisaya ako? Totoo naman iyon,” said Louis. “Hindi ko kasi gets kung bakit dina-down nila kapag Bisaya. Hindi ko alam eh. Wala naman sa akin iyon.”

(“I don’t get affected when someone talks trash to me. I know it’s just a joke. And even if they say Bisaya are stupid, I know that’s not true! And so what if I’m Bisaya? I don’t deny that I’m Bisaya. And I don’t understand why they would denigrate someone for being Bisaya. In any case, it doesn’t bother me.”)

Louis knows part of his strength and character comes from his identity as a Cebuano, and he proudly embraces that part of his heritage. His fans not only from Cebu but also from all the regions that speak Bisaya, affectionately call him “CeliBai,” a nod to his former IGN, Lord Celiboy. 

How E2MAX discovered Louis

“RG boy lang po ako,” (“I just play ranked games.”) Louis told ALL-STAR when we asked him how he was discovered as a player. 

RG refers to ranked games in MLBB. In gamer parlance, “RG boy” means someone who grinds diligently in ranked games to reach very high ranks. In the case of Louis, he reached an impossibly high rank of 7,000 points

To put things into perspective, most MLBB players who consider themselves serious gamers only reach 20 mythic points every season. If you reach 50 points, you’re considered Mythical Glory. If you reach 100 points, that’s considered Mythical Immortal. Less than 1 percent of players reach Mythical Immortal. Anything past that is astounding, and 7,000 Mythic points is just astronomical.

Louis beams at the camera as he said this, obviously proud of this achievement. Not even professional players are able to reach this kind of score anymore. 

“7k points po ako noon tapos nangta-trash talk po ng kung sino-sino. Bini-BP ko po kahit sino, parang iniinis ko lang,” said Louis, laughing. 

(“I had 7k points and I kept trash talking everyone. I posted BPs to annoy them.”)

BP means battle posting, or posting a screenshot of your match result on social media. This is usually done to tease your losing opponents or teammates with low scores or bronze medals in the match. 

“Chinat ko po si E2MAX noong naghahanap sila ng Exp Laner. Nag-post kasi siya noon na naghahanap sila ng bata na Exp Laner na walang ginagawa sa bahay kundi maglaro lang ng MLBB. Nag-chat po ako sa kanya. Nagreply po siya, sabi niya isend ko daw po mga BP ko sa kanya,” said Louis. 

(“I sent a chat to E2MAX when they were looking for an Exp Laner. He posted that he was looking for a young Exp Laner who does nothing at home but play MLBB. I sent him a message and he replied back, asking me to send him my BPs.”)

Louis sent all the Victory BPs of him beating Smart Omega’s players in ranked games. When E2MAX saw the screenshots, he immediately recruited Louis, who was living in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu at the time. 

ALL-STAR reached out to Patrick “E2MAX” Caidic, former coach and team captain of Smart Omega. 

“Pinasend ko mga win rate niya at mga tinalo niya sa ranked games. Nakita ko matataas yung win rate. Tapos atleta pa siya, kaya alam kong masipag,” E2MAX told ALL-STAR

(“I asked him to send his win rate and screenshots of his victories in ranked games. I saw that his win rate was high. He’s also an athlete, so I knew he was hardworking.”)

“Hindi na po ako pinag-tryouts. Kinuha na po ako agad!” (“They didn’t ask me to participate in the tryouts. They immediately hired me!”) Louis was beaming from ear to ear as he said this. 

Louis flew to Manila in 2023 to become one of Smart Omega’s players in the MPL. 

“Noong una, nahihiya po ako sa mga kasama ko sa boot camp kasi bago pa lang po ako at lalo na malayo po ako sa mga magulang ko,” Louis told ALL-STAR

(“At first, I was shy around my teammates at the boot camp because I was new and I felt homesick.”)

Now, the Cebuano Heartthrob aims to become the top Exp Laner in the Philippines. 

At 16 years old, Louis is the second-youngest athlete in the MPL Philippines. 

“Hindi naman porket bata ka, hindi mo na kaya makipagsabayan sa mga mas matatanda sa iyo,” Louis told ALL-STAR

As Louis vacated his gaming chair in the press room, a dozen pairs of eyes trained on him as he walked, eager for the exit. Shy as he is, Louis Gabriel Ariola, MPL’s Cebuano Heartthrob, is quite determined to dominate and defy age expectations as the top Exp Laner in the strongest region in MLBB. 

As a parting advice, Louis quips: “Kailangan mo lang po ng malupit na practice para sa sarili mo para makasabay ka sa mga nasa itaas.”

Louis is very young and he has some very, very formidable giants to slay.

Louis Gabriel Ariola. Photo: Richard Esguerra for ALL-STAR
Louis Gabriel Ariola. Photo: Richard Esguerra for ALL-STAR

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