IF THERE’s one team that teams dread facing the most, it’s none other than Blacklist International.
And who can blame them? Blacklist has the resources, the legacy, and the accolades.
They have the best shotcaller in the scene in Johnmar “OhMyV33nus” Villaluna, a player who has historically outwitted his foes in major events.
Then there’s Coach Kristoffer “BON CHAN” Ricaplaza, who turned the ‘UBE’ strategy into one of the most revolutionary coaching methodologies in the MLBB scene.
You have an unorthodox jungler who changed the scene (Daneries James “Wise” Del Rosario) and three MVP-caliber players (Kiel “Oheb” Soriano, Edward “Edward” Jay Dapadap, and Salic “Hadji” Imam).
Even behind the scenes, the team boasts a solid back-end staff featuring analysts and life coaches.
While it can be a daunting task to challenge the Codebreakers, some teams have relished the challenge of going up against them.
ECHO simulates the moves of Blacklist
No one would’ve thought that ECHO PH would deal Blacklist their very first back-to-back loss under the V33Wise era, but against all odds, they did it.
Hiw? The Orcas would use their second roster to replicate Blacklist’s antics in their scrimmages.
“Ini-scriman namin yung Team 2 and parang ginagawa nila yung strat ng Blacklist, para sanay po kami kapag nakalaban namin sila,” revealed EXP laner Sanford “SanFord” Vinuya during a Season 10 press conference.
This actually helped the team in learning new methodologies to break the code, as explained by Karl “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno: “Actually every scrim namin, sinimulate namin yung galaw nila, kung papaano kontrahin sa mismong MPL.”
While simulation is an important aspect for ECHO’s training, their research has likewise contributed to their success.
Though Wise is known for his iconic jungle play, the Orcas' assistant coach, Robert Alexis “Trebor” Sanchez would assess the kind of heroes he has at his disposal.
“Pinaghandaan namin sila ng mabuti kase World Champs sila. Noong drafting pa lang, nakita na namin na paulit-ulit yung hero ni Wise kase parang nag-iikot lang siya sa tank na hero kaya parang nabasa na namin sila sa laban namin ngayon," he explained.
Beside the set of heroes they’ll use, it was also matter of predicting their behavior. As KarlTzy recounted during their last matchup, ECHO would hover on the Lancelot, but held off because of the Codebreaker’s gameplan.
“Ang hirap mag-Lance dun kase alam nila kung paano counter-in yung mga assassin. Bine-bait nila akong mag-assassin. Alam ko na yung galaw nila kapag naka-Lolita sila at Balmond,” said the M2 World Championship MVP.
Omega Esports assesses which heroes to use
But the preparations don’t just end there, as teams would have to figure out which heroes to draft. Both RSG PH and Omega Esports made important decisions to deny Blacklist’s signature Faramis.
Three major heroes would come into the equation: Lolita, Balmond, and Claude. Omega used this trio in Game 1 of their recent matchup, and according to shoutcaster Neil “Midnight” De Guzman was the “Best draft against Blacklist!”
Unfortunately, Barangay Omega lost their first game, but it could be argued that they nearly could’ve won as they outplayed the Codebreakers in most clashes.
But even if Omega's primary heroes were denied in Game 3, they still managed to look for other alternatives with Julian.
Midnight praised the amount of preparation and theory crafting that Coach Pakbet displayed.
It was such a praiseworthy moment for Omega as they have always been beaten by prime Blacklist International in their matchups.
But their losses have been an eye-opener for the team, as explained by Coach Jomie “Pakbet” Abalos in a post-match press conference.
“Kapag natatalo kami sa V33Wise, ok lang kase malakas talaga sila," he confessed.
"Tuwing nakakalaban namin ang V33Wise, marami kaming natutunan. Natatalo man kami pero sa susunod na matches namin, magiging dikit yung laban. Ibig sabihin noon, nag-i-improve yung team pagdating sa shotcalling tsaka sa teamfight, kase doon malakas ang V33Wise e. Kaya siguro nananalo kami kanina kase maganda yung mga shotcalling namin kanina e.”
Coach Pakbet’s statement could inspire other teams who aspire to topple Blacklist’s dominance. Given the overall standings and the unpredictability of the 10th season, it can be argued that Blacklist is no longer the unstoppable force it was.
It seems that teams have already dissected their gameplan... unless, of course, the Codebreakers follow their usual narrative of learning from their previous mistakes.