Alston “Sanji” Pabico wears his inspiration on his sleeve. He stands out not only for his exceptional skills in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, but also for his deep-rooted passion for anime — particularly One Piece.

In an exclusive interview, the M4 World champion shared with ONE Esports why he loves the anime and the character he got his in-game name from, his father’s shared love of gaming and anime, and how watching One Piece can improve your mentality.

The origin of ECHO Sanji’s in-game-name

Taz Skylar as Sanji in Netflix's One Piece live action.
Credit: Toei Animation, Taz Skylar

Sanji, a popular character from the long-running anime and manga series One Piece, served as the inspiration behind the pro player’s in-game moniker. When asked about the choice of this name, the M4 World champion admiringly describes Sanji as “badass.”

However, he was quick to point out that he doesn’t share the character’s cooking skills or his propensity for physical combat. ECHO Sanji may not be a chef or a fighter, but in the Mobile Legends pro scene, he is undoubtedly an awesome midlaner, much like Sanji is an exceptional martial artist.

ECHO Sanji came from a family of gamers and otaku

ECHO Sanji with hi dad, Aaron, during an MPL PH interview
Screenshot by Ron Muyot/ONE Esports

Sanji’s father sacrificed his esports dream because of this

Alston’s love for anime began during his grade school years. He fondly recalls the moments when he and his father, Aaron, would watch anime series together after school. Their anime watchlist included classics like Dragon Ball, Baki the Grappler, and, of course, One Piece. This shared interest in anime not only strengthened their bond but also laid the foundation for ECHO Sanji’s enduring passion for the medium.

ECHO Sanji playing Mobile Legends with his dad
Credit: Aaron Vazoryo

Alston’s father shares not only his enthusiasm for anime, but also his passion for gaming. Their household is a haven for both gamers and otaku, making it the perfect environment for ECHO Sanji to nurture his interests. This father-son duo has not only watched every episode of One Piece together but also indulged in various video games, forging a unique connection between them.

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How ECHO Sanji found strength in the power of anime

ECHO's Alston "Sanji" Pabico holding the M4 World Championship trophy
Credit: Moonton

In the fast-paced world of professional gaming, stress and pressure are constant companions. To combat the mental toll of intense competition, Sanji incorporates anime into his daily routine. Before every competition, he takes time to watch at least one episode of an anime series. This ritual serves as a form of relaxation, allowing him to clear his mind and regain focus.

The MLBB pro emphasizes that watching anime is not just a pastime but a coping mechanism. It helps him deal with the stress that inevitably accompanies professional gaming. By immersing himself in the worlds of anime, he finds solace and an opportunity to temporarily escape the pressures of the gaming arena. Sanji even goes so far as to put himself in the shoes of anime characters, embracing their struggles and triumphs as his own.

Who has the highest bounty in One Piece?
Credit: Eiichiro Oda, ONE Esports

For Sanji, anime serves as a balm for the wounds of defeat. Instead of dwelling on losses, he turns to anime to lift his spirits. Rather than succumb to sadness or frustration, he channels his emotions into the adventures of his favorite characters. This practice not only keeps him calm but also contributes to his mental resilience as a professional gamer.

In closing, ECHO Sanji extends a heartfelt recommendation to his followers and fans. He encourages them to watch One Piece, assuring them that the story is captivating and filled with endless adventures. Sanji believes that anyone who embarks on this anime journey will come to love it as deeply as he does.

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In the world of both Mobile Legends and One Piece, Sanji continues to prove that passion and dedication are the keys to success. Anime, for him, is not just entertainment; it’s a source of inspiration, relaxation, and resilience on his path to becoming a legendary pro player.

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