by Drew Malihan
MANILA - Eighth place no more as NXPE calls GG RSG.
Nexplay Evos secured their sure top-four finish as they eliminate newcomers RSG Philippines to start the MPL Philippines Season 8 playoffs within three games.
The best-of-five series went to all three close games with RSG Philippines knocking on NXPE's doors but the classic NXPE comeback potential clicked to take the sweep and their first playoff series win in three seasons.
RSG went to a more flexible five with Paquito, Pos4 Lunox, Rafaela, Kimmy, and Lancelot in Game 1, while Nexplay went to the deadly Jawhead-Eudora duo with Lapu-lapu, Yi Sun-shin, and Natan.
NXPE started better with the early-to-mid-game power spikes from the Jawhead-Eudora combo, picking up Nathzz three times while giving H2WO's Yi Sun-shin space to farm.
Coach Zico's men continued their calculated plays, getting their map control while taking advantage of the squishy heroes of RSG, eventually getting three turtles and two lords in the game.
With the second lord in their side, Nexplay went to two GG calls, eventually getting Demonkite in the river, while Nathzz retaliates and picked two NXPE heroes but the RSG defense were more frail as they fell one by one to give the first win to Nexplay Evos, 11 to 5, led by Yawi's 0/0/9 KDA.
RSG went still with the Kimmy for the second game, but the Paquito went to the jungle role along with Esmeralda, Ruby, and Kagura, while NXPE went with the Estes and Khufra midlane combo with Yi Sun-shin, Thamus, and Natan.
Panda's men went to a better start in the second game, getting all four turtles in the game, focusing on Renejay and Yawi's heroes to give space to Demonkite to farm and get their buffs.
RSG went to a better mid to late game as they pick off the rest of NXPE heroes, including a trade between Aqua's Kagura for Renejay's Thamus at the hands of Iy4knu's Kimmy.
However, Hesa's Natan got two clutch kills to Aqua and Heath to give Nexplay Evos the opening in the late game, eventually leading to an incomplete team defense by RSG but to no avail as the burst damage of YellyHaze and company were enough to call GG and take a 2-0 lead, led by Hesa's 4/1/7 KDA.
RSG went for a Lancelot, Yve, Ruby, Brody, and Thamus for the match point, while NXPE goes for a tank Barats, mage Mathilda, Lapu-lapu, jungle Paquito, and Natan.
The new boys on the block went for a good start but Nexplay neutralized the early lead with a three man pickup to Heath, Demonkite, and Iy4knu to take the lead back early.
However, a Real World Manipulation setup gives some breathing room to RSG with a takedown to the rather slow Yawi's Barats, and a lord dance trips down the NXPE big three to give RSG the comfortable lord take.
With the clash in the 21st minute, Hesa grabbed the lord but Yawi, YellyHaze, and Renejay went down thanks to Iy4knu's heroics with the Brody, leading to all NXPE turrets going down.
However, a split take to Hesa and YellyHaze by three RSG men proved to be the swan song as Yawi and H2WO go for the RSG top inhibitor while Hesa escapes barely, leading to a clash near the lord pit led to a Renejay's Lapu Lapu death in exchange to Aqua, Iy4knu, and Nathzz, and it was all done to RSG as Nexplay went to the GG push with Hesa's 5/0/7 and H2WO's 6/3/6 KDA leading the team.
RSG bow out of the tournament with US$2,500 in the bag, while RSG grabbed a final four spot and booked a match on Friday vs. ONIC Philippines in the upper bracket.
Follow him on Twitter: @drewmalihan