ECHO’s winning formula: Five lessons to take away from their MPL-PH Grand Finals run
As the saying goes, “History repeats itself.”
After breaking the code on the global stage through a clean sweep, ECHO once again ended its match against Blacklist International, recording yet again a 4-0 win — this time in the 11th season of the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League – Philippines (MPL-PH) last May 7.
In a dominating fashion, the boys in purple and white defeated the defending champions Blacklist International, known for its signature UBE or Ultimate Bonding Experience Strategy, by employing brute force and coordinated assassinations.
EXP Laner Sanford “Sanford” Vinuya, who is only 16 years old, was crowned the Finals MVP of the MPL Season 11. Having played only three seasons in the MPL and an M4 Championship Medal to boot, Sanford was able to lead ECHO in its commanding victory versus Blacklist International.
ECHO’s win did not come easy. The team had to climb through the Low Bracket Finals and braved several teams to earn a spot in the Grand Finals, after defeating RSG Slate Philippines in a hotly contested match, ending at 3-2.
Known as the House of Highlights, ECHO really gave the audience a series to remember. The team also gave us a masterclass on how to win in the current META (most effective tactic available).
Lesson #1: Capitalize on your early game advantage
In the first game of the series, ECHO was clearly in a better position to be aggressive. Karl “Karltzy” Nepumoceno’s Lancelot had an early pick off on Blacklist roamer Johnmar “OhMyV33nus” Villaluna on the Rafaela. This gave him an early game gold lead to become more forceful in the succeeding minutes.
At 5 minutes into the game, ECHO gold laner Benedict “Bennyqt” Gonzales’ Harith was able to kill his lane matchup Lee “Owl” Gonzales’ Brody. Knowing that other members of the Blacklist squad will try to defend the lane, Karltzy quickly followed up and chased down OhMyV33nus, who was accompanying Danerie James “Wise” Del Rosario’s Fredrinn.
After a series of skill trading and being cornered to a spot, Karltzy was able to dash through the chaos with the help of ECHO’s Mid Laner Alston “Sanji” Pabico, Roamer Tristan “Yawi” Cabrera, and Bennyqt.
In just 30 seconds, the Orcas were able to wipe out the whole Blacklist squad and this gave them the snowball that they needed to build up on their items and end the game in just 14 minutes with a kill score of 15-4. (Timestamp Game 1: 5:14 to 5:55)
Lesson #2: Know your timings and position well
After a harrowing first game defeat, Blacklist clearly tried to adjust to the play style of ECHO. All five members became more aggressive, especially as OhMyV33nus was commanding the team with a Faramis.
Despite the adjustment, however, ECHO clearly knew their timings and was able to keep their boys in the right positions to give Blacklist a run for their money.
Right before the 8-minute mark, ECHO already had an 8,000 gold lead. After assassinating OhMyV33nus in a crucial turtle take, the boys in purple and white positioned themselves near the second-tier tower.
When Sanji saw Owl’s Karrie running back to the base, he used his Yve’s Real-World Manipulation and was able to secure a kill on his belt. Wanting to take revenge, the Blacklist team ran after Sanji and was able to pick him off, but a good positioning from Bennyqt’s Beatrix, who was hiding on a bush, punctured through the health bars of the Blacklist front liners, killing Edward “Edward” Dapadap’s Gloo and OhMyV33nus in the process. They also chased down Wise with Karltzy’s follow-up taunts. (Timestamp Game 2: 8:03 to 8:42)
The game quickly ended in less than 12 minutes.
Lesson #3: Turret dive if you must
MLBB is not a one-man fight. The Orcas understand this quite well. A skill on top of another, while boxing their opponents allowed ECHO to win a team fight in the turtle pit.
In Game 3, Yawi’s Chou was able to knock up three members of Blacklist International using a Jeet Kune Do plus Flicker move, allowing Karltzy’s Akai to dash toward them and knock them further using his heavy spin. This allowed them to take the turtle and gain another significant gold lead against Blacklist International.
The boys did not stop there. After killing Wise’s Fredrinn, they followed up on killing OhMyV33nus in the middle lane, while the other members of Blacklist International fled towards the side lane.
The aggression continued with Sanford’s Joy turret diving towards Owl’s Pharsa. Karltzy, who still had full health at that time, took on the turret damage to allow his teammates to assassinate Owl, Edward, and Rookie of the Season Kenneth Karl “Yue” Tadeo. (Timestamp Game 3 6:50 – 7:36)
Lesson #4: Pick the right targets
That dominating third game was too much for Blacklist International that they were left to resolve to keep the minions near their towers to allow them to gain gold. They succumbed to giving the Enhanced Lord to ECHO at 13 minutes.
While they were doing great at managing the minion waves, ECHO called for a pick off. Yawi flickered towards OhMyV33nus, who was giving vision to her teammates, and used the Way of the Dragon to bring her towards the bloodlust ECHO members.
Sanji dropped his Yve’s Real World Manipulation knowing that Wise will try to avenge his captain, while Karltzy and Sanford dashed through the backlines to prevent Yue’s Pharsa from using its ultimate and targeted Owl’s Karrie, who was considered Blacklist International’s main damage dealer.
With Edward as the only remaining member of Blacklist International, ECHO ended the third game 22-5.
Lesson #5: Have a winning mindset
While Blacklist International was hoping for a reverse sweep, ECHO wanted to end the series with a clean sweep. ECHO drafted well against magic and crowd control-heavy lineup of Blacklist International.
Game 4 was not as dominating as the first three ones with ECHO prioritizing turrets over heroes to the point that in the latter part of the game, the kill score was only 12-7 at more than 15 minutes.
After taking the Enhanced Lord for themselves, the Orcas marched through the Blacklist base. Sanji popped his Yve’s Real World Manipulation and Sanford used his Yu Zhong’s Black Dragon Form to zone their opponents out for a successful push against the inhibitor turret.
Karltzy’s Lancelot pierced through the minions and members of Blacklist International to push Owl’s Karrie back from defending the crystal.
Sanford’s flying dragon landed straight against four Blacklist International members and used the battle spell Petrify to stun them. The other members of ECHO were able to kill Wise, but the Lord was still pummeling the base of Blacklist International, forcing them to continue their defense.
OhMyV33nus, Edward, Owl, and Yue were able to regenerate their health from the fountain, but another round of ECHO minions were marching down the middle, top, and bottom lanes.
ECHO members kept their winning mindset and masterfully landed every skill and attack on OhMyV33nus’ Faramis. As Edward’s Gloo tried to retreat after popping his immortality, Sanji used his Yve’s Real World Manipulation to slow him down and Bennyqt’s Harith was able to pick him off.
Owl and Yue tried to retreat from the battle, but Sanji flickered towards Yue and used a Void Blast to stop Yue’s attempt to flee. Karltzy punctured through the minions and the members of ECHO were able to pick off Owl and OhMyV33nus.
Even with slivers of health left, the Orcas called for a base lock and ended Blacklist International’s hope for a reverse sweep.
ECHO, Blacklist to represent PH in MSC
Both ECHO and Blacklist will represent the Philippines in the upcoming MLBB Southeast Asia Cup (MSC). The best teams in Southeast Asia and three new regions, North America, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Turkiye will meet and compete for the coveted title in Phnom Penh, Cambodia this June.
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