The Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL) Philippines Season 9 Playoffs are almost upon us.
With Season 8 champions Blacklist International out of the playoff picture, a new champion will be crowned from among the six teams still in the hunt for the title.
The double-elimination playoffs will begin on 28 April, where the third to sixth-seeded teams will duke it out in the opening round of the upper bracket.
The top two seeds will then begin their campaigns on 29 April in the second round of the upper bracket. After four days of playoff action, the MPL PH Season 9 champions will be crowned on 1 May.
Let's see how the teams are looking leading into the playoffs.
#1 - RSG Philippines (RSG)
Season 9 regular season record: 23-9
Season 8 finish: 5th-6th place
Next Opponent: Winner of NXPE vs. ONIC
The “Kingslayers” have become the kings of the regular season as RSG finished with a league-best 11-3 match record.
Not having one of their veteran players in Christian “Iy4knu” Manaog, who opted to skip Season 9, certainly hasn’t stopped RSG from living up to their potential.
Empowered by the league MVP Dylan "Light" Catipon’s roaming abilities, RSG also boasted a league-best seven-match winning streak in the middle of the season, in which they beat every other team in the league.
After a disappointing sweep at the hands of Nexplay EVOS (NXPE) in Season 8, RSG cruises into the Season 9 playoffs in good form. The league leaders will face the winner of NXPE vs. ONIC in the upper bracket.
#2 - TNC Pro Team (TNC)
Season 9 regular season record: 21-13
Season 8 finish: 7th-8th place
Next Opponent: Winner of ECHO vs. OMG
This season, the popular Philippine esports organization have seemingly found the right mix for their Mobile Legends team.
TNC’s new “mythical six” have carried the team from the bottom of the standings in their debut in Season 8 all the way to second place in Season 9, greatly exceeding preseason expectations.
Keeping only two veterans in Ben “Benthings” Maglaque and Daniel “SDzyz” Chuu, TNC added standout players from various amateur teams, namely Jomarie “Escalera” Delos Santos, Salman “KingSalman” Macarambon, Mark “Kramm” Rusiana, and Robee “Yasuwo” Bryan.
The rejuvenated squad finished the regular season with an impressive 9-5 match record, a commendable improvement from the previous season. TNC will start their playoff journey in the upper bracket, where they await the winner of ECHO vs. OMG.
#3 - ECHO Esports (ECHO)
Season 9 regular season record: 17-13
Season 8 finish: 5th-6th place
Next Opponent: OMG
ECHO bolstered their roster considerably for Season 9, adding M2 World Champion Karl “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno along with Frediemar "3MarTzy" Serafico and Tristan “YAWI” Cabrera.
Team veteran Ashley Marco “Killuash” Cruz also returned to the lineup to round out ECHO’s revamped squad.
The roster changes quickly paid dividends for the team as ECHO kept pace with RSG for the top spot in the standings while exhibiting highlight-worthy plays every week.
However, while they looked good for most of the season, ECHO lost their last three matches and went 1-6 in those games against fellow playoff teams.
With the untimely losing streak to end the season, ECHO finished one point behind TNC and will have to fight their way to get to the later rounds of the upper bracket.
They will look to get back to their winning ways against OMG in the opener for the Season 9 playoffs on 28 April.
#4 - Nexplay EVOS (NXPE)
Season 9 regular season record: 15-16
Season 8 finish: 4th place
Next Opponent: ONIC
NXPE further shuffled and expanded their varied roster for Season 9.
Five standout amateur players made their debuts for NXPE: Kenneth "CADENZA" Castro, Mariusz "Donut" Tan, Emanuel "Elpizo" Candelaria, Michael "MP the King" Endino, and Renren "URESHIIII" Nitsuga.
NXPE finished the regular season with only a 6-8 match record. Fortunately for NXPE, they finished with 19 points, tied with ONIC Philippines, and won the tiebreaker against ONIC to put them solidly in fourth place.
After running into the buzzsaw of the Season 8 finalists ONIC and Blacklist International in their last two playoff matches, NXPE looks to improve on their playoff finish last season, starting with a rematch with ONIC on 28 April.
#5 - ONIC Philippines
Season 9 regular season record: 18-19
Season 8 finish: 2nd place
Next Opponent: NXPE
The MPL PH Season 8 runners-up ran it back with their Season 8 roster in hopes of recreating the magic that brought them to the grand finals.
ONIC entered Season 9 fresh off a second-place finish at the M3 World Championship, where they were swept in the grand finals by Blacklist International.
ONIC finished the regular season with a respectable 8-6 record, however, their match wins were not as clean as they needed them to be.
As a result, the team finished with 19 points and lost the tiebreaker to NXPE, putting them in fifth place.
In comparison, ECHO also finished with an 8-6 record but had 26 points and finished third.
Fortunately for ONIC, only match wins matter in the playoffs.
With rivals Blacklist International out of the picture, ONIC will begin their grind back to the finals, starting with NXPE on 28 April.
#6 - Smart Omega Esports Philippines (OMG)
Season 9 regular season record: 16-20
Season 8 finish: 3rd place
Next Opponent: ECHO
OMG kept most of their roster that made it to the lower bracket final in Season 8.
However, they did make a few changes in the offseason, namely the signing of Cesar Jefferson “Amethyst” Santos and Jhonville Borres “Outplayed” Villar in place of Dian Felix “Dian” Cruz and Robbie “Hito” Candoy.
While OMG struggled to beat top teams in the league consistently, they finished the regular season well with a three-game winning streak and squeaked into the playoffs.
On the final day of the regular season, OMG defeated the MPL-PH Season 9 and M3 World Championship winners Blacklist International (BLCK) to secure themselves the final spot in the playoffs.
OMG will play ECHO in the Season 9 playoff opener on 28 April as they look to build on their winning streak and for another shot to get to the grand finals.
The MPL-PH Season 9 playoffs begin on 28 April 2022 with a best-of-five match between ECHO and OMG, followed by a best-of-five match between NXPE and ONIC.
The Season 9 playoffs will run from 28 April to 1 May, ending with a best-of-seven grand final.
The champions will receive the lion’s share of US$35,000 out of the US$150,000 total prize pool.
The two finalists will also automatically qualify for the MLBB Southeast Asia Cup 2022, which will be held from 11 to 19 June with a US$300,000 prize pool.