PHNOM PENH – Howard “Owl” Gonzales crumbled under pressure in Blacklist International’s Game 6 loss to ONIC Esports in the 2023 Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Southeast Asia Cup last Sunday.
With their championship hopes on the line, Owl’s Wanwan failed to deliver in the crucial match, falling to a 1-5-1 KDA line as early as the first 10 minutes of the contest. This followed some heavy targeting by ONIC Esports, led by Kairi “Kairi” Rayosdelsol’s Fanny.
When the dust settled, the rookie gold laner ended up with two kills, three assists, and seven deaths in almost 20 minutes of action. ONIC Esports completed its title quest, 4-2, putting an end to Indonesia’s four-year title drought in Moonton-organized international tournaments.
Owl was the first to admit that he underperformed in the series, quickly taking the blame upon himself. This was especially true in the final game where Danerie “Wise” Del Rosario (Fredrinn) and Edward “Edward” Dapadap (Lapu Lapu) gave their all to give Blacklist International a chance to extend the series to a decider.
“Di na ako makapagisip nang maayos kasi siguro dahil din sa kulang ako sa experience kasi hindi ko na-handle yung ganung situation,” said Owl, who refused to blame the Wanwan pick, which ended up with a 0-5 win-loss record in the six-game series.
“Kapag ako lagi yung tina-target nawawalan na ako ng pag-asa sa game.
“Parang nag-blanko na yung isip ko rin e, ‘di na rin ako nagsasalita nun kasi naka-tago na lang ako sa bush namamatay pa rin ako,” he added.
Clearly disappointed after his performance, Owl was approached by team captain Johnmar “OhMyV33NUS” Villaluna immediately, assuring that everything is okay and that he had a great performance in the tournament.
“Sabi niya sa akin, okay lang yun. Bawi na lang,” Owl revealed.
“Okay lang yun, still a good rin pa rin [sabi niya] kasi nung Season 11 kasi parang ano talaga e, wala naman kasing nag-e-expect na papasok kami ng MSC e saka parang ‘di rin kami makakaabot ng finals,” he added.
The former Amihan Esports standout expressed his utmost gratitude to OhMyV33NUS for helping him get through his forgettable performance in the most important game of the series.
“Sobrang swerte [ko sa kanya] kasi sobrang good niya being a leader e. Wala kang maririnig sa kaniya na sinisisi ka niya. Ang sinasabi niya lang pa lagi na bawi lang, kaya pa. Kahit nung second game, kahit nagkamali ako, binu-boost niya pa rin yung confidence ko,” Owl said.
Looking forward, Owl believes that this experience in the grand finals will only help him improve as a player, vowing to make amends if he finds himself in a similar situation in the future.
“Tingin ko magagamit ko ‘to sa mga future tournaments. Alam ko na yung feeling na matalo ng ganito tapos ako pa yung pinupuntirya ng kalaban kaya kailangan ko talagang mag-pursige para lumakas pa lalo.”