Filipino Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) powerhouse Blacklist International kicked off the M3 World Championship group stage with a bang on Monday (6 December) as they swept through Group A to secure an upper bracket berth in the Playoffs.
As the reigning champions of MPL Philippines Season 8, Blacklist International were the favorites to come out on top of Group A against Bedel from Turkey, Malvinas Gaming from Latin America, and RED Canids from Brazil.
The Filipino squad looked dominant as expected, as they defeated the three other teams in their group to secure the top seed of Group A and an all-important spot in the Playoff upper bracket.
Blacklist International opened the M3 World Championship Group Stage by taking on RED Canids. The Filipinos dominated the teamfights and were up 16-4 in kills by the time the game finished, though their Brazilian opponents put up a stubborn defense to draw things out to just under 20 minutes before finally succumbing.
Star midlaner Johnmar "OhMyV33NUS" Villaluna notably earned MVP honors for the opener off of a 14-assist showing on Mathilda.
Blacklist International next faced top Turkish team Bedel, who notably earned their spot in the M3 with a clean sweep of the Turkish Championship in September.
The Turks were looking in control early with a 5-1 kill lead around the 6-minute mark. However, Blacklist International struck back hard come midgame and were up 7-5 in kills by the 10-minute mark. Despite Bedel's best efforts to defend, the Filipino team's momentum proved too much as Blacklist International scored their second win of the Group Stage after 16 minutes of action and with a 16-7 kill lead.
Blacklist International then completed their sweep of Group A by routing Malvinas Gaming in a 9-minute, 55-second stomp that ended with the Filipinos enjoying a 14-4 kill lead.
Blacklist International's star gold laner Kiel "OHEB" Soriano notably bagged the MVP awards in his team's wins over Bedel and Malvinas Gaming with back-to-back dominant performances on Rafaela, scoring 13 kills against one death against Bedel then notching a clean seven kills and four assists against Malvinas Gaming.
With their sweep of Group A, Blacklist International will start in the upper bracket of the M3 World Championship's double-elimination Playoffs on 11 December. Bedel also qualifeid for the upper bracket after they took the second seed of Group A by emerging victorious in a series of tiebreakers over RED Canids and Malvinas Gaming, who will start from the lower bracket.
The rest of the tournament's Group Stage will be played out across the next three days, with Group B on 7 December, Group C on 8 December, and Group D on 9 December.
The M3 World Championship will see the 16 best MLBB teams from around the world battle for the lion's share of a US$800,000 prize pool and the right to be called the new MLBB world champions.
For everything you need to know about the M3 World Championship, check here.