The claim that MLBB hosts one of the most compelling esports tournaments in the world is not without substance.
A simple three-game series is enough to become a head-turner with the right ingredients. With playoffs just having begun for MPL Philippines (MPL-PH) Season 10, we collected some of the greatest David and Goliath stories that have transpired in the league.
The birth of a rivalry (Season 4)
The fourth season of MPL-PH has been immortalized for delivering the most iconic MLBB comeback of all time in the “isang one hit na lang” moment between ONIC Philippines and Sunsparks during Game 4 of the Grand Finals.
What makes this iconic sequence even more important is the fact that before this epic play happened, ONIC had actually been dominating the series with a comfortable two-game lead. The first two games saw Gerald “Dlarskie” Trinchera and Jonmar “Ohmyv33nus” Villaluna securing their comfort Thamuz and Estes picks respectively, and Jaypee “Jaypee” Cruz had not performed well as Terizla in the aforementioned fourth game.
The momentum shift that the “isang one hit na lang” moment brought to Sunsparks spelt mounting pressure for ONIC Philippines. After all, who wouldn’t be shaken after missing your first championship as rookies by a single drop of HP? In any case, Sunsparks would not let themselves be outshined once again, as Jaypee’s Kagura and Renz “Renzio” Cadua’s Granger would lead the team to a close 25-minute Game 5 win.
Execration crushes the World Champions (Season 7)
Season 7 was a bit of a renaissance period for many MPL-PH fans with the intriguing roster changes and the rise of new blood. The M2 World Champions, Bren Esports, were struggling in the playoffs after being sent to the lower bracket by an Ohmyv33nus-led Blacklist International.
The monster that Bren had to slay was a hardened team of veterans and amateur stars in Execration, who had to outlast both Smart Omega and ONIC Philippines teams in ten grueling games to get to the lower bracket semifinal.
For a moment, it felt like a routine playoff smashing for Bren Esports. Karl “Karltzy” Nepomuceno had a killer Ling performance and the squad seemed to have an answer for Joshua “Ch4knu” Mangilog’s signature Atlas pick.
Unfortunately for Bren, their championship experience would be outwitted by Execration’s gritty guerilla tactics. The pivotal 50-minute long Game 3 saw the two squads going the distance until Ch4knu would hit a miracle Khufra set to seal the match. Meanwhile, Kielvj would wow fans in the series-deciding Game 5 with a clever Claude pick that outgunned KarlTzy’s signature Lancelot.
This series would give birth to Execration’s infamous moniker of the “lason” team, i.e. the team that eliminates any contender who dares to fall in the lower bracket.
Bren Esports discovers the antidote (Season 10)
The fates of Bren Esports and Execration—who went under new management with Smart Omega—after MPL-PH Season 7 would be clear opposites. Bren would be forced to evolve and move on from its championship roster while the Smart Omega squad would go on to win an international trophy in MSC 2021.
Interestingly enough, Bren’s first foray back in the playoffs since their Season 7 run would be against the exact same team that eliminated them in that season; the “lason” team.
The first two games saw Smart Omega talisman Duane “Kelra” Pillas come out with an MVP-level performance, as Bren seemed to have no answer for his Claude and Beatrix picks.
Like the previous entries however, a Game 3 would once again be the subject of mass controversy and discussion. Apart from fielding a jaw-dropping Lesley pick for Kelra, Renzio would also drop a subpar 0/6/4 Friedrinn performance, getting thoroughly outplayed by Bren’s Pandora and Kyletzy.
With fate looking to add a final twist to the story of these two teams, Smart Omega would face the same demons that they inflicted upon Bren three seasons before; the mounting pressure of finishing the series. In the end, Bren’s new blood proved to be the team hungrier for the victory, as they would rout the Barangay in two swift 13-minute games to finish the series.
Banner image from Tammy David.