Familiar faces - once in the same team but now opponents seeking to find their own paths towards the MPL championship. Will Nexplay Evos finally bag a win and spark some hope halfway into the Regular Season, or will ECHO bounce back louder and prouder from their recent loss?
The first game's draft was pretty standard in terms of the banning phase, as obvious meta picks were denied courtesy of both teams. However, Beatrix was left open which was snatched by ECHO as they sat on the Blue side. In exchange, NXPE were able to grab the Masha and Paquito for early game damage and an answer to their enemy's marksman. ECHO was then able to answer back with some good teamfight and pickup potential care of the Chou and Yve, and NXPE responded with the reliable Esmeralda pick. ECHO topped off their draft with a Balmond and Benedetta for good teamfights around objectives, while NXPE was able to pick the Xavier for late game insurance.
The early game was a relatively even ball game, although the Orcas were able to secure the first turtle care of Zaida's Balmond. However, a crucial Way of the Dragon play by Jaypee was able to pick off DONUT in the Gold lane, giving OUTPLAYED an early advantage. Despite the evident lead by ECHO, the Neon Tigers caught their opponents overextending and punished them accordingly from a barrage of back-and-forth clashes. The first Lord of the game was secured by the Orcas as they had the better position around the objective, equalizing the game in terms of gold and turrets. Approaching the late game, it was evident that there was a disparity in terms of damage between both teams; NXPE could not burst their opponents in the clashes they initiated, while ECHO's damage was able to counterplay, resulting in them turning the odds into their favor. NXPE acknowledged the fact that they did not have the upper hand in Lord takes, hence they focused on heroes instead as the third Lord was gone to waste as some of ECHO's members dropped. This idea by NXPE still prevailed in the next Lord, wherein they managed to pick off some of their opponents again, allowing them to finally grant their first Lord, equalizing the game once again.
The Neon Tigers knew that they had to eliminate the opponents' damage dealers, and they definitely did their assignment perfectly well, as RENEJAY singled out OUTPLAYED's Beatrix, leaving ECHO crippled and eventually to their downfall. NXPE secured the final Lord and wiped out ECHO securing the game for the side of the Neon Tigers 1-0.
The second game's drafting phase showed that ECHO respected the Masha, but NXPE was able to grab the Julian. Meanwhile, ECHO drafted the Akai on their side, but NXPE was clever in countering them by snatching the Diggie. ECHO's lineup contained reliable late game insurance and crowd control, and NXPE was able to play mind games by getting the Ling instead as the pick for H2wo instead of the Julian.
The early game was very tight; the Neon Tigers got the upper hand on both sides of the map, but the Orcas had the upper hand in the first turtle. It felt like H2wo was comfortable in this game, stealing jungle camps and turtles flawlessly using the Ling. Although NXPE were managing pretty well in the mid game, ECHO was able to gain the upper hand as the game progressed due to the presence of their raw crowd control and reliable follow ups. The second lord, however, was chaotic for the side of NXPE but fortunate for the side of ECHO, as the Orca's secured the Lord and caught their opponents too aggressive, which led to the members of the Neon Tigers dropping one by one, eventually resulting in a wipeout and a total siege into the base of NXPE.
With a crucial Lord take and teamfight, ECHO secured the second game, tieing up the series 1-1 and forcing a third game.
Game #3's draft was relatively traditional all throughout in terms of picks, with both teams prioritizing meta picks and answering each other's drafts at the same time. NXPE finally grabbed the Beatrix, however the Julian fell into the hands of the Orcas. NXPE topped off their draft by drafting flex picks Benedetta and Thamuz, while ECHO's lineup revealed a combination of a dive composition and a sustain-heavy composition as well.
The third game was filled with tension between the two teams; both were very careful in terms of choosing their fights, and the gold lead was very even until the 8th minute. Although NXPE was capable to fight in terms of damage and utility, the sheer sustain of the Orcas enabled ECHO to get the upper hand in skirmishes and clashes. Zaida's Akai was truly a nuisance for the side of the Neon Tigers with his Heavy Spin locking down crucial members of NXPE. The 14-minute Lord was the deciding factor of the game; despite Zaida being low in terms of health, it gave a false alarm for NXPE to commit to the Lord, not knowing that they were ending up being wiped out by their opponents.
With all members of NXPE out of the table, it left their base exposed, giving the chance for ECHO to siege in an finally conclude the series to a 2-1 in favor of the Orcas.
GAME 1 (29:03) - ECHO 19 (L); NXPE 28 (W)
GAME 2 (14:19) - NXPE 5 (L); ECHO 12 (W)
GAME 3 (15:26) - NXPE 7 (L); ECHO 13 (W)