NO ONE can deny the impact that Salic “Hadji” Imam brought to Blacklist International as he spearheaded the Codebreaker’s back-to-back MPL title run and world championship.
He even garnered MVP honors in Season 8 due to his game-changing hero pool.
Yet prior to his arrival to the team, there was a sense of uncertainty if he could mesh well with the team — a fact that Blacklist and Tier One Entertainment CEO Tryke Gutierrez, admitted in his talk show Turning Point.
In a recent episode, Gutierrez narrated a behind-the-scenes incident about Hadji's recruitment
“Hindi ito alam ng public, pero sinabi ko ito kay Rada bago magsimula yung Season (eight), Sinabi ko kay Rada, ‘Rada, may mga player diyan or may isang tao diyan or dalawang tao na pwedeng mapaisip na si Hadji ang gawing uno (jungler).'"
“Kase nandyan na yan eh, kumuha ka ng uno eh. Imposibleng hindi nila maisip yan. And everytime na magkamali si Wise or whatever, may mali-linger na thought na, ‘Baka siya na lang!” said the Tier One CEO.
Those were the exact same thoughts that haunted Wise before Season 8, which didn't help with his self-esteem.
“Ganyan din yung nasa isip ko noon. Yung problema ko noon is confidence sa sarili ko, parang kulang pa ako dun dati,” said Wise.
But longtime friend Johnmar “OhMyV33nus” Villaluna, along with the coaching staff, pushed for the idea.
“And ang nagpu-push na kunin si Hadji ay si V33(nus). Parang naisip ko, ‘Si V33 pa yung nagpu-push and dating jungler ito,” he recounted.
He added: “Yun yung pumapasok sa isip ko tsaka ano ang nag-usap talaga noon ay sina coach (BON CHAN), si DEX(STAR), at si V33, parang tatlo silang G na kunin si Hadji.”
Wise and Hadji ended up becoming close friends
Tryke knew that Hadji’s arrival might further dampen Wise’s morale. So when he gave his team the green light to sign him, he had one important condition: Wise should still be the main jungler.
“Sinabi ko kay Rada na, ‘Papayag akong kunin si Hadji basta itatak mo sa kada player natin na si Wise lang ang one,” said the Blacklist owner.
His primary reason? “Ayoko ng doubts sa team kase yun yung papatay sa atin,” he said.
Both Tryke and Blacklist Coach Kristoffer “BON CHAN” Ricaplaza assured Wise that he would maintain his spot.
Yet he remained skeptical.
“Pero yun nga guys ako talaga yung iisang tao na umayaw kay Hadji to the point na sinasabi ko kay Vee, ‘Sure ka ba diyan, V33?’" asked Wise.
“Pero naalala ko rin yung sinabi ni V33, ‘Kung may tiwala ka sa akin, hahayaan mo itong desisyon ko kase naniniwala ako dito.”
Given V33nus’ status as the team’s captain, Wise was left with no choice
“Eh under ako ni V33, so sige! Tiwala ako sa iyo ah!” he said.
Hadji then arrived in Blacklist, making a huge transition to the midlane/roamer role while Wise maintained his jungler status.
In the end, all the concerns about team chemistry came to naught, as Wise even admitted that he ended up being extremely close with Hadji.
"Hindi ko ine-expect na si Hadji yung pinaka-close ko ngayon kase share ko lang sa lahat ng nanonood na, si Hadji yung buong MPL ko, parang wala akong nakikitang ano sa kanya, pangit na ugali, parang pag nakikita mo siya matutuwa ka."
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