Filipino Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) powerhouse RSG Philippines have been crowned as champions of the ONE Esports MLBB Professional League Invitational (MPLI) after they defeated reigning world champions ECHO in the tournament's Grand Finals, 3-1, on Sunday (19 November).
RSG Philippines outlasted 15 other teams from all across Southeast Asia, MENA, North America, and China to claim the lion's share of US$37,000 out of the MPLI's US$100,000 prize pool. Meanwhile, ECHO settled for a second place finish and US$19,000 in consolation.
RSG Philippines and ECHO both had strong starts to the tournament, earning the top seeds of their respective groups in the Group Stage to earn upper bracket berths in the Playoffs. RSG Philippines had a perfect 3-0 record in Group D while ECHO topped Group C with a 2-1 record.
However, RSG Philippines stumbled in upper bracket semifinals and were knocked down to the lower bracket after getting swept, 2-0, by fellow Filipino team AP.Bren. Meanwhile, ECHO defeated Malaysia's HomeBois, 2-1, then cruised through AP.Bren, 2-0, to become the first team in the Grand Finals.
Under threat of elimination in the lower bracket, RSG Philippines seems to have flipped a switch. They defeated Cambodia's See You Soon, 2-1, before sweeping HomeBois, 2-0, to advance to earn a rematch with AP.Bren in the lower bracket finals.
It looked like a repeat of their previous encounter, as AP.Bren handily won the first game of the series. However, RSG Philippines stormed back to pull off the 2-1 reverse sweep to avenge their previous loss to AP.Bren and advance to the Grand Finals against ECHO.
RSG Philippines carried the momentum from their lower bracket run and had a flying start to the Grand Finals, taking the first game in 20 minutes. However, ECHO were quick to bounce back in a 13-minute game two to tie the series at 1-1.
The pivotal game three went in RSG Philippines' favour, who claimed a commanding 2-1 series lead in 14 minutes of action. In game four, ECHO would try in vain to force the Grand Finals to a decider but instead routed in just 11 minutes by a surging RSG Philippines squad.
RSG Philippines' jungler Jonard "Demonkite" Caranto claimed the Finals MVP award and an additional US$1,000 in winnings for his excellent performance throughout his team's 3-1 romp over ECHO.
This also marks RSG Philippines' second title in a top tier LAN tournament after their victory in last year's MLBB SEA Cup, where they swept Indonesia's RRQ Hoshi.
This year's MPLI title also serves as ample consolation for RSG Philippines for missing out on a spot in the upcoming M5 World Championship, which will be hosted in Malaysia and the Philippines from 23 November to 17 December.
Kuala Lumpur will host the Wildcard Stage from 23 to 26 November, where two teams will qualify for the M5 World Championship proper.
The M5 World Championship itself will be hosted in multiple venues in the Philippines from 2 to 17 December and features 22 of the best MLBB teams in the world fighting for the lion's share of a US$900,000 prize pool and the right to call themselves MLBB world champions.
RSG Philipines MLBB roster:
Nathanael "Nathzz" Estrologo
Jonard "Demonkite" Caranto
Arvie "Aqua" Antonio
Eman "EMANN" Sangco
Dylan "Light" Catipon
John "Theo" Eusebio (coach)