The arrival of Kairi “FULLCLIP” Rayosdelsol in Blacklist International was one of the most intriguing moves in the sixth season of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League-Philippines.
Blacklist International brought in the 14-year-old kid from Bataan to lead the team’s campaign as its hyper carry. It paired him up with the newly-acquired Mark “ESON” Gerardo and team captain Dexter “DEX STAR” Alaba in the middle lane.
The roster was a good mix of veterans and young guns, with Arvie “AQUA” Calderon and Edward “ED WARD” Dapadap roaming the side lanes.
Despite capping off season six with a fifth-to-eight place finish, Blacklist International proved that they could keep up with the Philippines’ best after dragging eventual grand finalists Omega Esports to a winner-take-all Game Five.
With a season of experience under their belt, Blacklist International is expected to be one of the top contenders for the title next season.
However, all that promise was crushed to dust after FULLCLIP decided to take his talents to ONIC PH, forcing Blacklist International to a win-now mode. With the young star now shining elsewhere, Blacklist International decided to go on a revamp and added three new players to their once-promising core.
And the new Blacklist roster will get its first taste of action in the ONE Esports Mobile Legends Professional League Invitational.
After FULLCLIP requested a trade, Blacklist International made sure to get a few pieces as well to compensate for the huge loss.
The organization was able to acquire veterans Danerie “Wise” Del Rosario and Johnmar “OhMyV33NUS” Villaluna in exchange for the young FULLCLIP. Days later, Blacklist International also announced the acquisition of amateur player Kiel “Oheb” Soriano, who previously played for Amihan Esports.
All three of them will be making their Blacklist debut in the ONE Esports MPL Invitational, replacing FULLCLIP, AQUA, and sixth man Archie “KIL LER” Valencia in the Blacklist lineup.
Changing of the guards
Wise will be carrying most of the load for the revamped Blacklist squad as he is expected to assume the role FULLCLIP vacated.
The former ONIC PH core struggled mightily in the past two seasons. He showed cracks in his game when the meta began to shift to assassin-centered compositions, playing awkwardly when using ‘attack damage’ heroes.
On a positive note, Wise has the same hero pool as FULLCLIP which is a huge boost for the squad. He can also bring in more depth to Blacklist’s schemes with his mastery of Yi Sun Shin and Harith — two heroes that are missing in FULLCLIP’s arsenal.
Oheb, on the other hand, will be taking on the offlaner role and step up for AQUA.
ESON is most likely retaining his role as the starting tank, thanks to his exceptional play in the previous season. Meanwhile, DEX STAR seemed to be out of place ever since the two-tank setup went down the drain. That is why it is possible that OhMyV33NUS, who has more grasp of mage-support heroes, will take the final spot in the main five which relegates the Blacklist captain to the sixth man role.
With the three new additions, expect head coach Bonn “BONN CHAN” Ricaplaza — who is regarded as one of best coaches in the Philippines — to be more creative in building his compositions.
Fighting off Resurgence
Blacklist International was picked by MPL-Malaysia/Singapore champion Todak in Bracket C with the second pick in the fourth round of the ONE Esports MPL Invitational champion’s draft.
This means that Blacklist International will be squaring off against former MPL-MY/SG champion Resurgence in the first round of the playoffs.
The odds are definitely not on Blacklist’s side, but the task of overcoming Resurgence is well within reach especially with the current roster they have.
Let’s start off with ESON and his Hulk-like tank skills. The former Cignal Ultra member took a total of 3,653,938 damage in season six, ranking third overall among tanks. It is a welcome sight for a core like Wise, who had a total of 69 deaths (fourth among cores) also in the previous season. With Eson beside him, Wise can surely improve his 5.33 KDA average come the MPLI.
Resurgence often starts their games in two different ways. They either use Kayzeepi as a leash for Iy4Iy4Iy4 in one of the buffs or put Kayzeepi and Jason, who was replaced by Fenrir in the lineup, in the side lanes to help Sana and SynC clear the first wave.
One of Wise’s struggles in the past season is mostly due to his positioning. And with Resurgence’s style of play, expect Wise to roam freely in the first minutes of the game which could be one of the keys for Blacklist International to score the upset.
Resurgence’s kill participation percentage is also not that high with only Kayzeepi surpassing the 55-percent mark. With the current pieces they have, Blacklist International can capitalize on that by forming team compositions built for team fights.
ESON’s mastery of Akai and Khufra will also be very vital for Blacklist as Resurgence often picks up the Harith for Iy4Iy4Iy4.
It’s a tall order for a Blacklist International squad who was only formed two weeks prior to the tournament. And facing a team who was just coming off a fourth-place finish will only trim their chances even more.
Aside from the obvious chemistry issues, stage fright might also cause problems for Blacklist International.
Oheb, who is set to make his professional debut on the international stage, has to shake off the jitters and contribute right away for Blacklist to stand a chance against Resurgence.
Good thing for him, though, the former ONIC PH duo has tons of experience to impart after already competing in the first-ever M1 World Championships. ESON, meanwhile, is also no stranger to international play after participating in the Mobile Legends Southeast Asia Cup before with Cignal.
Blacklist International needs to make all systems work to get past the first round. And for that to be possible, protecting Wise must be the top priority for ESON and the gang.
Team cohesion will be a huge question mark for Blacklist come game time. That is why they have to bank on talent alone to keep up with Resurgence.
Blacklist International looks to #BreakTheCode once the ONE Esports MPL Invitational opens its curtains on November 27, Friday.