Just a year ago, Mariusz “Donut” Tan was like any other aspiring Mobile Legends: Bang Bang pro player, striving to establish himself in the game’s professional scene.

This year, his dedication and hard work have propelled him to new heights, earning him the reputation as one of the best gold laners today.

Aside from leading BURN X Flash to their second MPL Cambodia (MPL KH) title, he also put the entire region on the map. His team became the first Cambodian team to secure a top-four finish in an international tournament during the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Southeast Asia Cup 2023 (MSC 2023).

In an interview with ONE Esports, the 20-year-old opened up about his journey from facing difficulties in MPL PH to becoming a superstar in MPL KH.

Donut took on the challenge when he was asked to try out for BURN X Flash, and now he’s the star of the team

MLBB MSC 2023 team Burn x Flash celebrate their MPL Cambodia Spring 2023 championship
Credit: MPL Cambodia

It wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies for him in the competitive scene.

When he was with Nexplay EVOS in the Philippines last year, the team faced early eliminations in Season 9 and failed to qualify in Season 10.

However, a breakthrough came when BURN X Flash coach Mitch “zMitch” Sato invited Donut to try out for the team, marking his first experience with a foreign squad.

“I first assessed myself whether I could go abroad as an import because of culture, food, and other changes.”

But thanks to the unwavering encouragement of his parents, Donut decided to take the risk and joined the team just in time for MPL KH Spring Split 2023.

It was a tough journey initially.

BURN X Flash player Ty "D7" Oudom and Mariusz "Donut" Tan celebrating a victory at the MSC 2023 knockout stage in Cambodia
Credit: ONE Esports

“Language is the biggest struggle because they are accustomed to communicating with their local language.”

Fortunately, his teammates had a basic understanding of English, mitigating the issue.

They gradually found their rhythm, qualifying for the playoffs and ultimately winning the championship, securing a spot in MSC 2023.

He says if given the chance, he would recruit this MPL PH player to play alongside him in BURN X Flash

BURN X Flash player Mariusz "Donut" Tan endorsing Cambodia's largest bank, ABA Bank
Credit: Donut

After his victory in MPL KH, the 20-year-old received an unexpected endorsement offer from ABA Bank, Cambodia’s largest commercial bank.

“At first, I couldn’t believe it because they seemed to be everywhere as if they no longer needed any promotion,” Donut expressed.

The extent of his fame became even more apparent during MSC 2023, where the venue was filled with fervent Cambodian fans passionately cheering for him and BURN X Flash, underscoring the tremendous support he had garnered within the country.

A packed audience during one of the series at the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Southeast Asia 2023 (MSC 2023) knockout stage
Credit: Moonton

However, despite his current fame and success in Cambodia, Donut openly acknowledges his occasional yearning for his home country, the Philippines.

He reminisces about his family, Filipino cuisine, his friends, and the iconic locations that hold sentimental value in the Philippines.

Additionally, Donut shared his longing to reunite with his former teammate in Nexplay EVOS, John Paul “H2wo” Salonga.

Given the chance, he would eagerly recruit his former teammate to join the team, praising him as a positive and friendly individual who would thrive in Cambodia.

“I’d love to play with H2 again,” Donut affirmed. “He is a positive person, friendly, and will do just fine here in Cambodia.”

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