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Midnight struck as the Land of Dawn opened once again for Game 7 last December 17, 2023, at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
By 2:03 pm, after a grueling battle between Philippines’ AP.Bren and Indonesia’s Onic Esports, the Hive stood victorious as they completed their road to a 2nd MLBB World Championship.
The strategic decision-making of Coach Francis “Ducky” Glindro and Coach Vrendon “Vren” Pesebre led to the Hive’s masterful macro play to box out Filipino-import player Kairi “Kairi” Rayosdelsol from Onic’s own jungle during that seventh winner-take-all game. The M5 trophy would then stay in the host country’s territory and be lifted by the MPL Philippines Season 12 champions, with David Charles “FlapTzy” Canon crowned as the Finals MVP.
No end to the PH domination
The era of the Philippines’ dominance is far from over. The win in the M5 World Championship marks the fourth time an all-Filipino team has won a World title.
PH domination began in M2, with a Bren Esports win. Afterwards, M3 belonged to Blacklist International, which brought the iconic “VeeWise” combo and Ultimate Bonding Experience or “UBE” strategy to international fame. Finally, ECHO won in M4.
This historic win means that it is the first-ever MLBB team to win the M Series World Championship tournament on their home court. As a cherry on top, the thrilling Grand Finals stream broke viewership records, gained over five million in peak viewership, and surpassed all their views in all M-series history.
AP.Bren is only one of the teams to watch throughout the MLBB world, with more young Filipino players gaining recognition and showing gradual improvement. As the saying goes, “Pinas Lang Malakas” and for FlapTzy, this means more than just a phrase.
“Pinas Lang Malakas means that Filipinos don’t give up. Even when Filipinos are at a disadvantage, they still won’t give up. That’s why it’s ‘Pinas Lang Malakas’,” FlapTzy said during the post-match interview.
The Upper and Lower Bracket Finals journey
Before AP.Bren faced Indonesia for a Grand Finals showdown, it was the MPL Indonesia Season 12 champions that had the upper hand against the Hive. AP.Bren was forced down to the lower brackets to fight for survival after Kiboy and Kairi’s dominating combinations.
Fate had it that the opponents they had to face in the Lower Bracket Finals were their fellow Filipino representatives, Blacklist International.
The Season 12 Grand Finals rematch in the M5 stage was set, but the same strategies were in place. AP.Bren targeted Sensui once more as they pulled him away from his comfort zone by banning the Utility Heroes he was seen prioritizing.
The Sensui Instincts couldn’t activate as Bren knew exactly what to do to zone out the veteran jungler. After a 4-0 sweep, Angelo Kyle “Pheww” Arcangel, Marco “Super Marco” Requitano, FlapTzy, Michael “KyleTzy” Sayson, and Rowgien “Owgwen” Unigo took the Lower Bracket Finals win, which landed them a spot for a rematch against Onic Esports in the Grand Finals.
In an email interview with the team after the match, Vincent “Pandora” Unigo mentioned that the team had a talk before their Grand Finals berth. “Bago mag Grand Finals, nag usap kaming lahat na eto na yung last series for the year kaya ibigay na namin ang lahat at maging excited kasi maraming tao ang pumunta para suportahan kami.” He added.
The epic seven-game finals
Predictions swarmed the internet with Facebook comments, TikTok videos, and tweets revolving around the Upper Bracket Finals results. Numbers were leaning towards a possible Indonesia’s Onic Esports win, but the Filipino audience remained hopeful and confident.
The fully packed Rizal Memorial Coliseum screamed the name of the Pinoy representatives, clamoring for a win in their home country. As the record showed that no team from the host country has ever won a World Championship title, pressure and expectations were high.
Game 1 began at 7:00 P.M. Both teams brought out their signature META picks to start the Grand Finals strong. But within minutes, AP.Bren took the first win as the crowd roared in excitement.
Game 2 continued at a similar pace, as both teams prioritized their comfort heroes for this match-up while targeting each other’s strongest players. However, in the close 14-13 kill difference, it was Onic who took the match within the 22:49 minute mark behind Sanz’s explosive performance.
After that 1-1 standing, AP.Bren went on a rampage in Games 3 and 4, taking both matches that led them to matchpoint. It was Pheww and KyleTzy who led both games, earning them their respective match MVPs.
The crowd went wild as the nation believed that Bren could win it all. But after turning things around late in a sterling Game 5 and 6 run, Sanz, Kiboy, and Kairi led the Indonesian squad for another fighting chance.
“Even at matchpoint, we didn’t see Onic change their playstyle. You could still see their chemistry, so they were still able to punish our mistakes in Game 5, especially in Game 6,” Pheww recalled.
During the huddle before the last showdown of the night, Coach Ducky assured his teammates that no matter the result, he’ll remain proud of the young squad. “Win or Lose, I’m really proud of you. Kung ano marating natin today, just make sure na alam niyo, I’m really proud of you.”
Finally, when the clock struck midnight, Game 7 began, and the rest of the events cemented MLBB history.
What’s next for AP.Bren?
After a long period of rest, the Hive is seeking to compete in more tournaments in the coming year. “Elevating the team performance further. Compete in as many tournaments as possible,” said Coach Ducky.
Pheww and KyleTzy repeated the sentiments, with KyleTzy looking forward to the re-branded Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Mid-Season Cup (MSC).
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