Even getting there is a chore. As Bren Esports' Francis "Duckeyyy" Glindro could attest from M2, travel and COVID-related documents add up a ton of paperwork that bring about unneccessary stress. Now, it's Blacklist's Kristoffer "BON CHAN" Ricaplaza and Onic's Denver "Yeb" Miranda to experience the pandemic-era bureaucracy.
When the two team arrive in Singapore, they will be facing off notable heroes and teams. In Spin.ph's Zoom In webcast, broadcasted live last November 17, coaches Duckeyyy, BON CHAN, and RSG PH's Brian "Panda" Lim discussed their M3 predictions.
From dark horse contenders and noteworthy threats, here are the teams they talked about.
M3 group stage.
Onic Esports: A major threat
After Blacklist's defeat at the hands of Onic Esports in the Grand Finals of the MPL: Invitational, both RSG PH head coach Brian "Panda" Lim and Blacklist International coach BON CHAN believed that Onic Esports remains an S-tier, or even a god-tier threat, in the M3 World Championships.
“There are still teams that even when they have aggressive heroes in the early game, they don’t really like to play aggressive like other teams," said Panda.
He even said Onic Indonesia's SANZ as a perfect example, who he considers to be a devil that cannot easily be caught.
"The best games that we can see especially in the MPLI is Onic Indonesia, especially SANZ. No matter what hero he uses, like YSS, Paquito, or kahit anong hero, he just likes to solo play, parang solo RPG the enemy jungle.
"That is not typical because most of the junglers they like to start their first jungle and depending on the situation, they like to take the momentum inside the enemy jungle. So there are these kind of players that change the flow of the game.”
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Meanwhile, Ricaplaza, who had faced Onic ID in the MPLI finals, recalled how Onic's drafting surprised them in their finals encounter.
“Kaya nilang pagpalit-palit yung hero nila at i-switch sa iba’t ibang lane. For example, yung Claude in-assume namin na, ‘Eto na yung gold lane na Claude so bibigyan ka namin ng mismatch. OHEB, eto na yung katapat mo! Kayang-kaya mo na!’" said BON CHAN. "Kaso nung nag-start na yung game yung Claude ginawa nilang pos 4. So nasira yung plano ko na bigyan ng mismatch.”
BON CHAN even brought up CW's statistical data — proof he's been doing his homework.
“Numbers don’t lie kase noong tiningnan namin yung stats, si CW sobrang lawak ng hero pool, kahit ano gagawin niyang pos 4, kahit ano gagawin niyang pos 5.”
Malaysian teams as dark horse threats
There have been notable underdog runs in the most prestigious MLBB esports events. like that of 10second Gaming+, who stunned Onic PH back in M1, and the Burmese Ghouls, who nearly toppled Bren Esports in the Grand Finals of M2.
But for all three coaches, the Malaysian teams are worth placing under the microscope.
“If I’m going to put my money on a team, it’s definitely going to be someone from Malaysia. I mean James is there, he was the coach of RRQ back in M2, then he switched over to SMG," said Coach Duckeyyy who acknowledged the impact of his friend, Coach Chen "James" Jui Teng.
In response, BON CHAN admitted that SMG deserves to respected as their loss against RRQ didn't feature their superstar, Lu "SaSa" Khai Bean.
“I still bet SMG as well. Noong previous game kase nila against RRQ, for me, malaking factor si SaSa. Maraming pwedeng gawin si SaSa. Although nakatapat nila ang RRQ na hindi kumpleto ang main five, I still bet SMG kase hindi pa nila naipapakita yung full potential nila. Kita niyo naman kung gaano kalakas yung loob nila na pumili ng mga teams sa MPLI na alam nila na malalakas,” he mused.
Even the MPL-MY runner ups, Todak Esports, are worth highlighting given their unorthodox methods.
Recounted Panda: "I honestly want to see how Todak will play against Blacklist because natatawa ako dati that they’re playing Akai jungle, Akai EXP lane, tapos they’re also using Belerick. So maybe I’m thinking they’ll prepare Nana jungle, Estes in the gold lane."
Heroes who might make an impact
Besides the teams, each coach also gave their thoughs on which heroes would shape the M3 World Championships.
“For me, Kadita ang nakikita kong magiging useful ngayon dahil sa pinabilis na animation niya pati ulti. Palagay ko magiging useful ang Kadita, especially ngayon na madaming team ang pumipili ng Yve at Pharsa,” said Blacklist's head coach.
While Kadita is known to pressure the lack of mobility from backline mages, Roger can be used to weaken assassin-based heroes which have been prominent in the current meta, said the RSG PH coach.
“For me maybe Roger because previously for MPL the most popular picks were always Ling, and then it became the Hayabusa and Lancelot after the patch, then it became the Paquito, and then the Karina, and then the Bane, and then the Balmond," said Panda. "So I’m always interested to see like what kind of junglers will their always be. And I didn’t see much Roger junglers because after his nerf and then the other heroes have more skills and power especially in the early game."
He added: "Roger is a popular pick especially in countering assassins like Ling. I feel like Roger will be a rising popular pick dahil sa buff niya regarding, he has more defense and HP regarding his wolf form."
However, there is one hero worth mentioning, as Clint's appearance in the MPL: Invitational has unveiled his potential in the competitive scene.
"[Clint] actually experienced a big resurgence this time because of how Onic Indonesia actually played the hero," observed Duckeyyy. "It’s actually XINNN from RRQ who actually first showed it. Right now, Clint is experiencing a resurgence because players are now realizing that the hero is pretty mobile, a hard catch, packs a punch. The tool kit is pretty amazing."
He added: "There are a few heroes who could actually out lane him. That’s probably the reason why he’ll be a point of contention for M3."