ONIC vs. Blacklist in MSC '23 finals: Here's what to know

ONIC Esports' CW (left) and Blacklist International's Edward. Photos from Moonton

by Drew Malihan

PHNOM PENH - For the first time in a while, it will be Indonesia vs Philippines as back-to-back Indonesian champions ONIC Esports will see Filipino powerhouse and three-time champions Blacklist International in the Finals of the 2023 MLBB Southeast Asia Cup inside the AEON Mall on Sunday.

It will be the third time these two teams will play against each other in major Mobile Legends international competitions, as they faced each other twice in late 2021 and tied in head-to-head with one win apiece.

The Hedgehogs first met in the ONE Esports MPL Invitational 2021 Finals on November 7, 2021 where they dealt a 3-1 beatdown of the Agents to claim the title.

Blacklist took one back 37 days later as they are the team to knock ONIC Esports out of the M3 World Championship playoffs, two games to one.

The Kairi-VeeWise trade
The players' stories also intertwined as three of them saw their playing rights traded for one another back on November 2020, as the then upcoming rookie Kairi "Kairi" Rayosdelsol was traded to ONIC's Philippine team for both Johnmar "OhMyV33nus" Villanuna and Danerie James "Wise" del Rosario.

The player formerly known as Full Clip went on to be ONIC PH's midlaner before getting the jungler role in Seasons 8 and 9, before joining the Indonesian organization in mid-2022 and has since become one of the best, if not the best, MPL Indonesia's best junglers and assassin users.

The V33Wise tandem meanwhile became the core of the Blacklist International and has became the most dominant MLBB side of 2021, and has been instrumental to the renowned Ultimate Bonding Experience strategy which puts utility junglers and healers in the game's meta.

One looking for a repeat, one for the elusive glory
ONIC Esports is looking forward to became the only organization to win the MSC trophy twice, having won the tournament back in 2019 against fellow Indonesia side Louvre Esports.

Adriand Larsen "Drian" Wong, who is the remaining player from the 2019 winning team, will seek for his second MSC crown, which will put him as the only player to do the said feat, albeit coming off the bench this time.

Meanwhile, this will be Blacklist's second shot for MSC glory, after a deep 2021 debut which saw them finished as runners-up to fellow Filipino side Execration.

The win will also complete the trophy cabinet for OhMyV33nus, Wise, and Edward Jay "Edward" Dapadap, who only lacks an MSC title in their already Hall of Fame careers.

Dominance in their own right
Blacklist's current form in the tournament saw them winning their group stage matches against both Todak and Team Occupy, before downing Fire Flux Impunity in the quarterfinals and Burn x Flash in the semis.

The Agents only lost two games, one against Todak in a bbackdoor play and one against Burn x Flash in a decisive late game clash.

However, ONIC Indonesia has yet to drop a game, sweeping their group stage matches in Team Outplay and Burn x Flash before keeping their records unblemished against Evos Legends and Echo.

The Hedgehogs looks forward to add Blacklist to their sweep list, which if they succeed to do so, will earn them as the only team to do an invincible run in MSC.

Stats and players to watch
After the semifinals, ONIC Esports were fourth in average kills with 14.2 and third in the assists department with 33.2 per game, while Blacklist were second in both average kills with 15.5 and average assists with 34.83.

Blacklist's midlaner Kenneth Carl "Yue" Tadeo and EXP laner Edward led all players in the average KDA department with 10.71 and 10.6, respectively, while Gilang "SANZ" (8.23), OhMyV33nus (7.47), Lee Howard "Owl" Gonzales (7.15), Calvin "CW" Winata (6.00) and Wise (5.95) were the other remaining players in the top ten.

Yue also led the remaining players in average kills with 5.17 followed by Owl (3.92) and CW (3.8), while OhMyV33nus led them in average assists with 10.67 followed by Kiboy (8.00) and bpth Kairi and SANZ (7.5).

Edward has the least deaths among them with 0.83 per game, followed by Owl (1.08), and Yue (1.17), while SANZ led the Indonesians with 1.3.

It will be a battle of the midlaners as both Yue and SANZ led their teams in KDA and least deaths, while also using identical priority heroes in Valentina and Yve, while Novaria, Wanwan, and Claude will be contested between CW and Owl.

Follow him on Twitter: @drew_corner