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First seed RSG Philippines are through to the upper bracket finals of the Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL) Philippines Season 9 Playoffs after a 3-0 sweep over ONIC Philippines on Friday (29 April).
Despite being one of the younger teams in the league, RSG proved they were deserving of their top seed by outplaying the veteran ONIC squad in three-straight games.
Read on to find out how RSG knocked the Season 8 finalists into the lower bracket.
RSG hit the ground running
RSG opened up their draft with the Wanwan for Eman “EMANN” Sangco as their primary damage dealer.
ONIC immediately countered with Allen Jedric “Baloyskie” Baloy’s famous Natalia and Gerald “Dlarskie” Trinchera’s Grock to try and keep RSG’s back liners in check.
RSG drafted the Franco for regular season MVP Dylan Aaron “Light” Catipon to have a ganking and jungle threat. They then paired the roaming Franco with the fast and sturdy Karina for Jonard Cedrix “Demonkite” Caranto to burst down heroes that Franco immobilizes.
ONIC completed their lineup with Cecilion for Jaylord “Hatred” Gonzales to improve their late game scalability, Kimmy as Mark Christian “Markyyyyy” Capacio’s comfort pick, and Helcurt for Kairi “Kairi” Ygnacio Rayosdelsol.
As for RSG, Nathanael “Nathzz” Estrologo grabbed the Esmeralda and Arvie “Aqua” Antonio took the Pharsa to round out their lineup.
RSG took an early lead in game one and never looked back. After two quick pickoffs on Natalia and Grock, Demonkite’s Karina comfortably killed the first turtle of the game.
Pharsa’s innate mobility matched Natalia’s movement around the map and provided support to RSG’s side lanes.
The growing Pharsa problem became apparent, prompting ONIC to gank her in the middle lane. Unfortunately for ONIC, the Crow Princess barely escaped with her life while they lost two heroes during the chase.
However, ONIC did get some counterplay in the second turtle. Helcurt used Dark Night Falls to steal the turtle while the rest of ONIC’s heroes picked off Light’s Franco.
However, ONIC’s problem only spread throughout all three lanes. RSG grew their gold lead and pushed ONIC’s first three outer towers by the 8-minute mark. EMANN’s Wanwan then capped off a three-for-two trade in the middle lane with a double kill using her Crossbow of Tang to push RSG’s lead up to 3,800 gold.
With RSG’s heroes coming online, ONIC opted to build stacks for Hatred’s Cecilion and survive for the late game.
ONIC successfully ganked Nathzz’s Esmeralda two consecutive times to mitigate the loss of all of their outer towers after the first lord. Unfortunately for ONIC, their efforts were in vain.
A counter-initiation on the top lane after Light’s Franco was picked off resulted in a three-for-one exchange favoring RSG and gave them the space to take the second lord of the game.
Baloyskie’s Natalia managed to hold off RSG’s push with the second lord after making her presence felt within RSG’s backlines and cutting off minion waves on the other side of the map.
But, after a conceal play that took down both the Helcurt and Natalia, RSG took the third and final lord of the game, leaving ONIC with just three heroes to fend off the attack.
RSG did not even wait for the lord to spawn as they marched down the middle lane and locked onto ONIC’s base to take game one.
Aqua received the game one MVP award with a 5/1/7 showing on his Pharsa.
Not enough for a comeback
ONIC chose to play with a single front liner for game two, picking up Dlarskie’s Masha while Baloyskie’s Natalia returned to the lineup.
They also drafted Kairi’s signature Ling to go with Hatred’s Xavier that became a lynchpin in two of ONIC’s wins on day one.
RSG declined an assassin versus assassin matchup and chose the Barats for Demonkite instead. Two more tanky heroes in Chou and Esmeralda completed RSG’s front line, while Beatrix and Yve bolstered RSG’s damage capabilities.
The league leaders withstood ONIC’s early and midgame timings to take the game late.
Baloyskie’s Natalia picked up two quick deaths after some early attempts onto RSG’s sturdy front line, a problem that persisted throughout the entire game.
RSG’s purposeful movements throughout the map earned them an early 2,000 gold lead after two turtle kills and a 5-1 kill advantage six minutes into the game. However, Kairi’s Ling split pushed and stole objectives to keep ONIC in it until their hero timings came.
A contested first lord ended up in the hands of RSG after a two-for-one trade near the pit. The kill grew RSG’s gold lead to 5,400 as the game reached its midway point.
But ONIC’s stars would not go down without a fight.
With a seemingly free second lord, Kairi’s Ling stole the show once again. A well-timed Tempest of Blades snatched the lord from RSG’s clutches and Nathzz’s Esmeralda fell in the middle lane soon after.
ONIC’s lord steal and Esmeralda kill erased RSG’s gold lead and allowed ONIC to equalize in turrets. Then, a pickoff on EMANN’s overextending Beatrix and a dive onto Demonkite’s Barats gave ONIC enough space to destroy all of RSG’s outer towers and take a 2,200 gold lead for themselves.
Emboldened by the momentum they took, ONIC challenged the third lord.
However, an early three-for-two exchange in the top lane favoring RSG pushed ONIC back. ONIC then took the risk of re-engaging with RSG, but both Masha and Natalia melted in the face of five RSG heroes.
The third lord push opened up ONIC’s middle and bottom lane, setting the stage for RSG to finish the game.
After a pickoff on Natalia and Ling as the fourth lord respawned, RSG quickly grouped up as five and hunted the rest of ONIC’s heroes. Only Dlarskie’s Masha remained at the end while RSG destroyed ONIC’s base and took game two.
Nathzz’s Esmeralda won game two’s MVP award with an 8/2/1 stat line.
"Light" at the end of the tunnel
With their backs against the wall, ONIC drafted three tanky heroes to protect Markyyyyy’s Natan: Kairi’s Baxia, Baloyskie’s Franco, and Hatred’s Grock. Dyrroth was also picked up for Dlarskie for additional burst potential.
RSG answered with the Atlas-Cecilion combo for Aqua and Light to target the four melee heroes of ONIC with Cecilion’s scalable magic burst attacks.
Demonkite and EMANN returned to their comfort picks with Karina and Beatrix, while Nathzz opted for Thamuz with his high sustainability.
With a chance to close out the series, Light proved himself worthy of the regular season MVP award once again.
Kairi’s Baxia won the retribution battle for the first turtle of the game. Shortly after, a Wild Charge from the Grock set up Dyrroth’s Abysm Strike to take down the Karina and Cecilion. The early turtle kill gave ONIC a solid 1,300 gold lead while their Natan continued to farm.
ONIC’s four-protect-one strategy gave them a positional advantage during the first lord. By the 9-minute mark, RSG’s side lanes have already been pushed towards the inhibitor towers and ONIC 's gold lead grew to 4,400.
However, RSG gave ONIC a glimpse into their potential damage output in the middle lane as a simple Sanguine Claws-Bat Impact combo from Aqua’s Cecilion nearly took out Markyyyyy’s Natan.
After conceding the second lord of the game, Light connected with Fatal Links from his Atlas onto three heroes in the middle lane, immediately taking out the Natan. Baloyskie’s Franco fell soon after, letting RSG take their first two towers of the game down the middle lane.
The third and fourth lord fights completely turned the tide in favor of RSG.
Light’s Atlas dove onto Kairi’s Baxia during both fights, allowing RSG to take ONIC’s retribution ability out of the fight. Without ONIC’s core, Demonkite easily took both lords for RSG.
To cap off his MVP performance, Light caught Baloyskie’s Franco and Hatred’s Grock with another Fatal Links as the final lord pushed down the middle lane.
Light’s setup led to a four-for-nothing exchange, leaving Dlarskie as the last man standing once again as RSG sealed ONIC’s fate.
Light won game three’s MVP award with a 0/2/13 stat line from his Atlas.
With their sweep over ONIC, RSG sets up a first seed vs. second seed matchup in the upper bracket final against TNC Pro Team on 30 April.
Meanwhile, ONIC drop to the lower bracket, where they will face Smart Omega Esports Philippines for a spot in the lower bracket final.