After Blacklist International drew relatively "easier" assignments in the group stages of the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang M3 World Championship, all eyes were on Onic Philippines, which was grouped with Indonesian champions Onic Esports in Group B, dubbed as the "Group of Death".
And the group lived up to its moniker with a couple of crazy finishes.
Onic PH surrendered a comeback loss to Onic Esports in an early game before the Indonesians then dropped to the bottom of the standings with consecutive upset defeats to Malaysia's Todak and MPL Brazil runner up KEYD Stars
When the dust settled, it was Onic PH rising from the ashes as they bounced back from the debut loss to sweep their remaining games and take the top spot in the group and catapult into the upper bracket. Onic Esports, considered by many as the favorite to go all the way courtesy of their dominant MPL Invitational 2021 conquest, were left to mend their wounds in the lower bracket.
And with Blacklist's thorough domination in Group A, which included the fastest win in the tournament against Argentina's Malvinas Gaming, the two Philippine powerhouses have now positioned themselves for a possible rematch in the upper bracket finals.
The emergence of two Philippine teams as the frontrunners in their respective groups in the M3 just further strengthens the country's claim as the mecca of MLBB professional gaming.
Coach Yeb's draft prowess in full display
(Photo: Onic PH/Facebook)
Onic PH's Coach Yeb was the unsung hero of their crucial win against Todak after he opted to go for the unorthodox Faramis exp laner to counter Todak's Gloo and switching Gerald “Dlarskie” Trinchera (Esmeralda) to the gold lane.
The move simply worked wonders for MPL PH Season 8 runners-up as they thoroughly prevented Gloo's aggression towards the backline, helping keep safe the duo marksman combo of Kairi “Kairi” Rayosdelsol's (Natan) and Jaylord “Hatred” Gonzales (Beatrix). The two youngsters were unstoppable and finished with 1-1-8 and 9-3-1 KDAs, respectively.
With RRQ Hoshi possibly standing in their way in the upper bracket progression, the draft will be crucial once again as they try to counter prolific jungler Albert Neilsen “Alberttt” Iskandar whose brilliance was typified by scoring multiple maniacs plus the first savage of M3 during their group stage match against middle-east representatives GX squad.
Blacklist: a lock for the upper bracket finals?
(Photo: Blacklist International/Facebook)
Barring any surprises or upsets, it looks like Blacklist has a free-way ride to the upper bracket finals, thanks to Onic Esports faltering to the lower bracket and Onic PH taking the top spot in Group B joining RRQ Hoshi in the opposite bracket.
On paper, the biggest thorn along the way should be Evos Singapore who swept their matches in Group C. They breezed through North American qualifiers Blood Thirsty Kings and never looked threatened versus Cambodia's SeeYouSoon and Turkey's Natus Vincere.
But Bedel might be the biggest dark horse of the tournament after they made Blacklist sweat for a bit in the early goings of their group stage match before the Bonchan-mentored squad came rampaging in the midgame and beyond.
Should they hurdle Evos Singapore, a rematch with Blacklist will be as exciting as their first match against the Filipinos where they flaunted their jungle Fanny pick that resulted in a difficult early game for the Philippine champions.
—JMB, GMA News