Filipino Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) powerhouse Blacklist International ceased their partnership with Malaysian organisation Team Lunatix for its MLBB Development League (MDL) Philippines team, Blacklist Lunatix, after Lunatix allegedly neglected to provide financial support to the team.
In a statement posted on Thursday (21 September), Blacklist International said their decision to cut ties with Lunatix resulted from an "internal investigation" on the incident and that they will be taking over management of their MDL team until the end of MDL PH Season 2.
After going through an internal investigation, Blacklist International has decided to terminate our partnership with the Lunatix organization, effective immediately.
We will also be taking over the management of the MDL team from today until the end of the season.
— BLACKLIST INTERNATIONAL 👑 (@BLACKLISTINTL) September 21, 2023
Lunatix's alleged neglect of the Blacklist Lunatix team came to light after Filipino media outlet spin.ph released an expose on the team's dire situation on Wednesday (20 September).
According to spin.ph, Blacklist Lunatix manager Eviann Balquin said that Lunatix had failed to provide the proper financial support the team needed in order to compete.
Balquin claimed Lunatix only gave the team PHP2,500 to PHP5,000 (US$43 to US$87) every month in order to pay for food, lodging, equipment, and salaries for the team's players and support staff.
For reference, the Philippines' Department of Labor and Employment lists the daily minimum wage for the non-agricultural sector in the country at PHP610 (just under US$11).
Blacklist Lunatix's struggles
With nowhere near enough money to support the team, Blacklist Lunatix could not pay for their original bootcamp and were forced to stay in the house of the mother of one of their staff members just before the start of MDL Philippines Season 2 in late August.
The team also could not secure adequate internet connection for them to hold scrimmages with teams from outside the Philippines.
The situation got so bad that Balquin said she and other staff members had no choice but to use their own salaries to pay for the team's expenses. The players were even forced to sleep on the floor of their impromptu bootcamp without air conditioning, pictures of which were shared with spin.ph.
In addition, Balquin said Lunatix had not paid the team their salaries for three months.
Blacklist Lunatix's financial struggles affected their play in the MDL PH, where they have only managed a record of 1-6 through the first four weeks of the regular season.
The team went winless in their first four matches in weeks one and two. They didn't win their first game until week three and only won their first match at the tail end of week four.
With Blacklist Lunatix's struggles becoming too much to bear, Balquin said she approached Blacklist International, the MDL, and MLBB developer MOONTON Games to inform them of their dire situation. Other organisations from the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries also shared their assistance.
Balquin added that Blacklist International gave permission to the team to search for another organisation to support them. They also provided gaming chairs, up-to-date phones, and service to their facilities in Quezon City where they could play their MDL matches.
The manager added that she also discovered that Lunatix had also neglected to provide promised support to another MDL team in Indonesia.
According to spin.ph, when contacted, Lunatix claimed that they sent proof of payment to the management of Blacklist International, but did not give the media outlet a copy, citing privacy and confidentiality.
MDL Philippines and MOONTON Games have also not yet made official statements on the situation.
With Lunatix now out of the picture, the Blacklist International MDL team will continue to compete under the Blacklist Academy name. Their next match in the MDL will be on 26 September.