MPL PH Season 9 Playoffs: ONIC outlast Nexplay EVOS in 3-2 thriller

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ONIC Philippines outlasted Nexplay EVOS in a grueling five-game bloodbath in one of two opening matches in the MPL Philippines Season 9 Playoffs. (Photo: MPL Philippines/ONIC Philippines)
ONIC Philippines outlasted Nexplay EVOS in a grueling five-game bloodbath in one of two opening matches in the MPL Philippines Season 9 Playoffs. (Photo: MPL Philippines/ONIC Philippines)

ONIC Philippines cleared their first obstacle on the road back to the finals after going the distance to defeat Nexplay EVOS (NXPE) 3-2 in the first round matchup of the Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL) Philippines Season 9 Playoffs on Thursday (28 April).

ONIC and NXPE traded the first four games of the series to force a deciding game five, where Kairi “Kairi” Ygnacio Rayosdelsol led ONIC in clinching the series.

Here's how ONIC showed their true mettle against the revamped NXPE.

Nexplay EVOS start strong

ONIC chose to play without a marksman for game one, giving Mark Christian “Markyyyyy” Capacio the Harith instead.

They also tried to compensate for the lack of damage with sturdy and sustainable heroes in Kairi’s Barats, Allen Jedric “Baloyskie” Baloy’s Estes, and Jaylord “Hatred” Gonzales’ Grock.

Meanwhile, NXPE drafted heroes that could easily pick off unsuspecting heroes, such as Michael “MP the King” Cadino’s Karina, Jeniel ‘YellyHaze” Bata-Anon’s Yve, and Kenneth “CADENZA” Castro’s Franco.

NXPE also gave Raniel “URESHIII” Logronio the newly revamped Akai for more initiation and teamfight capabilities.

ONIC’s passive lineup proved to be their downfall throughout game one.

NXPE built up a solid 2,000 gold lead seven minutes into the game and led 7-2 in kills. Karina, along with her roaming Franco, isolated and killed heroes throughout the map.

With no reliable way to escape Franco’s stuns, every Iron Hook and Bloody Hunt seemingly led to a kill for NXPE. Every hooked and stunned hero immediately fell into a Yve AoE or a bursting Karina.

Following a four-for-nothing trade in the middle lane, NXPE took the first lord of the game and destroyed all of ONIC’s outer towers while keeping all of their own.

Then, MP the King secured himself a Maniac with his Karina as NXPE wiped ONIC off the map on the bottom lane, allowing his team to take the second lord freely.

To cap off NXPE’s dominant performance, CADENZA’s Franco connected with an Iron Hook onto Gerald “Dlarskie” Trinchera’s Dyrroth in the middle lane, killing the Dyrroth off as the rest of NXPE destroyed ONIC’s base.

Game one ended in a 24-5 bloodbath in favor of NXPE. MP the King led the charge for NXPE, winning the MVP award with a stellar 13/1/7 performance from his Karina.

(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)
(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)

ONIC immediately sought to solve their lack of damage in game two as they picked up the Wanwan for Markyyyyy and bolstered their frontlines with three tanky heroes: Baxia, Grock, and Uranus.

They also banned URESHIII’s Akai and MP the King’s Karina to avoid suffering a similar fate as game one.

NXPE tried to solve the Wanwan issue with one of the heroes that naturally countered her dashes: Phoveus.

YellyHaze’s Yve and CADENZA’s Franco were also drafted once again to go along with MP the King’s Lancelot in hopes of bursting down ONIC’s backline heroes.

ONIC’s sturdy front liners continually harassed MP the King’s Lancelot during the early game, putting NXPE on the backfoot.

After a pickoff on URESHIII’s Phoveus and CADENZA’s Franco, ONIC took the first lord of the game in exchange for Markyyyyy’s life while their gold lead grew to 3,000.

By the 12-minute mark, NXPE’s outer towers had all been destroyed, and ONIC’s gold lead grew even further. Slowly but surely, ONIC took control of the game.

While the Phoveus pick helped slow down the Wanwan’s farm, the rest of ONIC’s heroes were fully in sync.

NXPE’s heroes did not have enough damage to punish initiations from Kairi’s Baxia, while Hatred’s Xavier continuously spammed combinations and Dawning Lights to finish off retreating heroes.

Down 6,500 in gold, NXPE put all of their hopes in Mariusz “DONUT” Tan’s Claude, delaying the game as much as possible for their marksman to farm enough to get them back into the game.

However, ONIC played safe and focused on taking objectives.

Having control of the entire map, ONIC repeatedly took down the lord and destroyed all of NXPE’s towers by the 19-minute mark, effectively trapping NXPE in their base.

ONIC closed out game two by picking off the overextending Phoveus in the middle lane.

The pickoff gave ONIC enough space to take the fourth lord of the game while Dlarskie’s Uranus dragged NXPE’s heroes towards the exposed top lane.

With the lord inside NXPE’s base, both the Baxia and Uranus kept NXPE occupied, letting Hatred’s Xavier secure himself a Triple Kill on the retreating NXPE heroes and tie up the series 1-1.

(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)
(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)

"Championship" Natalia

Needing a win in the pivotal game three, ONIC drafted Baloyskie’s “Championship” Natalia that made the veteran roamer famous during the M3 World Championships.

ONIC also went back to the Grock-Wanwan-Xavier trio that helped them control game two.

Meanwhile, NXPE drafted the slippery Ling to infiltrate ONIC’s backlines while also keeping their dynamic duo of Franco and Yve. NXPE also gave the Chou to URESHIII for more initiation opportunities.

NXPE took an early lead in the first five minutes of the game despite the early struggles of their Ling due to timely pickoffs on Markyyyyy’s Wanwan and Hatred’s Xavier.

However, ONIC responded in kind as they erased NXPE’s early gold lead, winning a three-for-one trade during the fight for the second turtle.

Baloyskie’s Natalia certainly lived up to her moniker, quickly getting to a 5/0/3 stat line by the 7-minute mark and keeping NXPE’s heroes on their toes at every moment.

With a two-for-one trade on the top lane going in their favor, ONIC secured the first lord of the game.

Mirroring game two, ONIC destroyed all of NXPE’s outer towers by the 12-minute mark, which let them control the entire map and restrict NXPE’s farm.

ONIC slowly and methodically dismantled NXPE’s defenses while keeping Natalia on the back of NXPE’s minds as they took objectives. URESHIII’s Chou repeatedly tried to create some space for NXPE, only to die immediately after.

ONIC’s gold lead ballooned to 8,600 after they freely secured the second lord. True to ONIC’s objective-based strategy, they took down NXPE’s inhibitor towers while a two-for-two tradeoff occurred in the middle lane.

After another Chou pickoff on the top lane, Baloyskie made space for ONIC once again as he dragged three heroes towards the top lane, giving the rest of ONIC all the space they needed to secure the third lord of the game.

As their base crumbled, CADENZA’s Franco snagged Kairi’s Barats in a last-ditch attempt to get back into the game, but NXPE’s heroes used too many skills to kill the Barats with Immortality.

This gave space for Markyyyyy’s Wanwan and Hatred’s Xavier to focus down NXPE’s heroes one by one, securing the pivotal game three win for ONIC.

Baloyskie’s “Championship” Natalia came through in the clutch yet again, winning game three's MVP award with a 6/3/9 stat line.

(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)
(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)

H2wo makes a difference for NXPE

Despite having an MVP performance in game one, MP the King struggled heavily in the next two games and finished with a combined zero kills and six assists against nine deaths.

MP the King’s disappointing performances prompted NXPE to substitute him for John Paul “H2wo” Salonga.

With the Ling now in the hands of H2wo, NXPE brought back the Yve and Franco duo once again, hoping to see a different result with their substitute player. DONUT also went for the more proactive marksman in Beatrix to keep the aggressive theme in their lineup.

Baloyskie’s Natalia was banned during the first phase by NXPE, forcing him to go back to his Grock and pairing him with Kairi’s Barats.

ONIC rounded out their draft with Hatred’s Lylia, Markyyyyy’s Popol and Kupa, and Dlarskie’s Dyrroth.

Invigorated with H2wo insertion in the lineup, NXPE returned to a more aggressive playstyle that won them game one. H2wo immediately showed his impact, starting the game off with a 3/0/1 stat line.

NXPE took the early lead in kills 8-4 even though ONIC led in gold, showing the instant change in playstyle that H2wo brought with his substitution.

With the first lord of the game looming, Hatred’s Lylia grabbed two pickoffs within a minute to put ONIC in position to take the lord.

After a failed attempt by H2wo to steal it, CADENZA’s Franco connected with an Iron Hook onto Baloyskie’s Grock to burst him down.

ONIC’s counter-initiation did not result in a kill and URESHIII’s Gloo immediately jumped back into the fight, allowing NXPE to kill both the Dyrroth and Barats in quick succession. The extended teamfight resulted in a four-to-one exchange in favor of NXPE.

To finish the game off, YellyHaze caught Markyyyyy’s Popol and Kupa using his Yve’s Real World Manipulation at the bottom lane, allowing H2wo’s Ling to finish the Popol and Kupa off with Tempest of Blades.

NXPE then collapsed onto the retreating ONIC heroes, resulting in a teamwipe and forcing the match to a deciding game five. CADENZA won Game 4’s MVP honors with a 2/3/8 performance from his Franco.

(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)
(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)

Going the distance

After going against the Franco and Yve duo of NXPE, ONIC picked the two heroes up for themselves to throw a wrench into NXPE’s draft plans.

Kairi opted for his Barats once more while Dlarskie and Markyyyyy grabbed the Masha and Claude, respectively.

Meanwhile, NXPE opted for the long-range burst pairing of DONUT’s Beatrix and YellyHaze’s Xavier. The team also drafted Karina for H2wo, Esmeralda for URESHIII, and Atlas for CADENZA.

Both teams leaned towards their preferred playstyles in the decider. ONIC focused on taking turtles and pushing towers while NXPE hunted heroes throughout the map.

Emboldened from two pickoffs in the middle lane, NXPE took control of the first lord fight and secured it for themselves.

However, ONIC did not let NXPE leave unpunished, getting three kills in exchange for the lord following back-to-back Iron Hook connections from Baloyskie’s Franco.

The bloodbath continued for both teams in the fight leading up to the second lord. A four-for-three trade in the middle lane slightly favored NXPE as they managed to secure the lord for themselves afterward.

NXPE took a 3,000 gold lead as they destroyed ONIC's outer towers, but the latter's situation quickly turned sour.

As the fourth lord respawned, Dlarskie’s Masha chased away DONUT’s Beatrix, paying for the initiation with his life. However, Beatrix was brought low enough for Markyyyyy’s Claude to eliminate both her and Xavier within the same Blazing Duet.

CADENZA’s Atlas and H2wo’s Karina also fell soon after, and ONIC secured the fourth lord for themselves. NXPE repelled ONIC’s attack at the expense of their three inhibitor towers.

Finishing the game in true ONIC fashion, Dlarskie pushed the bottom lane to take attention away from the fourth lord, forcing URESHIII to be isolated and killed on the top lane.

ONIC also delayed killing the lord until YellyHaze’s Xavier attempted a Dawning Light lord steal.

With the lord rushing toward the middle lane, ONIC locked onto NXPE’s base to claim the 3-2 series victory. Kairi won the match-clinching game five MVP award with a near-perfect 5/1/12 stat line from his Barats.

(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)
(Screenshot courtesy of MPL Philippines)

After five grueling games, including a 40-kill finisher, ONIC eliminated NXPE to advance to the next round of the upper bracket.

ONIC will continue their quest back to the mountaintop as they face top-seeded RSG Philippines on 29 April.

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