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    Nexplay, Hito, and other takeaways from Week 1 of the MPL-PH's Season 8

    Aug 31, 2021

    FROM dominant performances, rising superstars, and unusual performances, the first week of the 8th season of the MPL was greeted with a lot of twists and turns.

    Rookies like Rion “Rk3” Kudo made headlines for their confidence in the big stage, while veterans like Salic “Hadjizy” Imam proved to be the difference maker in new teams. Heck, even the resurgence of Christian “Rafflesia” Fajura’s Chou deserves the spotlight as well.

    While there were some notable performances in Week 1, there have also been some blunders as well. Two teams who were expected to explode in the opening week — Bren Esports and Omega Esports — have stumbled down the pecking order, but it’s possible for them to bounce back as the season progresses.

    Without further ado, let’s list down some points to ponder about the opening of the MPL-PH!

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      Nexplay has a long way to go

      As much as Nexplay fans are hoping that a massive turnaround is going to happen with the team’s recent changes, there is still a lot that needs to be done.

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      Forging an alliance with SEA esports juggernaut, EVOS Esports, was a good way to start the off season with a bang.

      Plus, making John Michael “Zico” Dizon as a head coach, and acquiring MPL legend Jeniel “YellyHaze” Bata-Anon as their captain and Neil “Midnight” De Guzman as their analyst, was a good way to convince the skeptics that the team is gunning for a deeper push.

      Continue reading below ↓
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      While very crucial moves, there are still a lot of factors that need to be considered before a team can officially become contenders.

      Nexplay’s performance in Week 1 has been filled with disjointed efforts. Even their Game 2 victory against Blacklist International was unconvincing, since it felt like a desperate last ditch attempt.

      Though there are some promising signs, courtesy of Jhonwin Dela Merced “Hesa” Vergara, the team has yet to refine their synergies in game. Case in point: There were hiccups with Tristan “Yawi” Cabrera’s setups, and times when John Paul “H2wo” Salonga was easily dispatched by the opposition.

      Continue reading below ↓

      With the higher stakes of the 8th season, it will take more than just an identity change and some heated words from Setsuna “AkoSi Dogie” Ignacio on Renejay “Renejay” Barcarse for them to be noteworthy contenders.

      Smart Omega vs Onic PH

      Is Hito the problem for Omega?

      The temporary suspension of Duane “Kelra” Pillas due to his controversial remarks has caused a major debate within the ML community: Is Robert Remar “Hito” Candoy the problem for Omega?

      Continue reading below ↓

      Perhaps he is, since he was the opposite of Kelra. If the latter is known for his explosive entrances out of nowhere, Hito came under fire for his inconsistencies.

      His Phoveus performance in Game 2 against Onic PH and his Natan in Game 1 against Echo were signs that he could follow the big shoes left by MPL-PH season 7’s super rookie. But there were also instances where it felt like he was a non-factor in a game.

      However, it’s unfair to judge him as the main problem, as the team overall needs to refine their approach.

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        They tried to rely on Joshua “Ch4knu” Mangilog to make miracles for them, but his movements were easily dissected. They even tried to go for their signature “comeback kings” card in Game 2 against Echo, but this was denied by Jaymark Aaron “Hadess” Lazaro.

        It seems the other teams have already figured them out — and there might be some other potential issues that might affect the team’s morale, like, say, the Billy “Z4pnu” Alfonso and Raffy Tulfo debacle.

        Continue reading below ↓

        With the team’s current state, some would point out that Omega might be on the decline. However, it’s far too early to tell. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Execration during their MPL Season 7 and MSC 2021 campaign, is that the team is capable of making major adjustments and bouncing back from their mistakes.

        RSG PH vs Onic PH

        Continue reading below ↓

        Is RSG PH a potential dark horse?

        A 2-1 series win over Bren Esports, the defending M2 World Champions, is a huge confidence booster for RSG-PH, one of the underdogs of the tournament. With the way the team is headed, it’s clearly evident that the team was heavily blessed by the leadership of Coach Brian “Panda” Lim, team captain Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa, and Earvin John “Heath” Esperanza.

        For a team heavily built around rookies and MPL outcasts, one may expect a lack of direction in every teamfight. But they proved everyone wrong given how they defeated the M2 champions.

        The chemistry between Heath and newcomers, Jonard Cedrix “Demonkite” Caranto and Nathanael “Nathz” Estrologo, has been on point especially with how the rookies reacted from Heath’s setups. Combined with the explosiveness from veterans, Arvie “Aqua” Antonio and Joshwell Christian “Iy4knu” Manaog, then RSG PH might have just chanced upon a recipe for success.

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        So far, we have only witnessed a glimpse of their potential. Imagine if Kenji’s SEA Games heroics and Dexter “Exort” Martinez’s Lunox and Kadita plays were given the spotlight.

        Who knows, we might even be greeted with a wildcard performance from Elyson Edouard “Wrecker” Caranza.

        Onic PH roster

        Has Coach Yeb regained his mojo?

        The Mobile Legends community ridiculed Onic PH for choosing Paul Denver “Coach Yeb” Miranda as the team’s head coach. And who can blame them given his abysmal 0-13 series record last season?

        Continue reading below ↓

        Yet he managed to silence his doubters with the way Onic played in Week 1. Their split pushing game has been their biggest strength, and both Echo and Omega have fallen victim to their tower-melting antics.

        Sure, there will still be doubters who would argue that he is a one trick pony, but his Yu Zhong plus petrify combo has proven that he could also transition to a team oriented gameplan when needed.

        Perhaps this could be Onic’s ascension phase, similar to what happened in Season 4.

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