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Sports

Smart Omega, ONIC PH rise; Echo, Nexplay EVOS fall in MPL Season 9 playoffs

Michelle Lojo - Philstar.com
Smart Omega, ONIC PH rise; Echo, Nexplay EVOS fall in MPL Season 9 playoffs

MANILA, Philippines — The Mobile Professional League kicked off its playoffs with heated match-ups between Echo and Smart Omega, and ONIC PH and Nexplay EVOS. 

Smart Omega swept Echo PH, 3-0, in a much-delayed match-up that saw two redrafts and a few technical pauses. These led to a delay of the ONIC PH and Nexplay EVOS' match-up, which eventualy turned into a nail-bitter of series at 3-2 and ended already in the early hours of the following day.

Match One saw sixth seed Smart Omega opening the playoffs — which saw the return of a limited live audience — with an overwhelming sweep against frontrunners Echo, one of the top contenders during the regular season.

"Di man ine-expect na masisweep namin sila, kasi alam namin may baon rin sila para sa amin," Smart Omega coach Jomie “P4kbet” Abalos said in their post-match interview.

"Siguro, masyadong maraming iniisip rin si ECHO, lalo na sa mga technical pauses," he added.

Having ended the regular season at No. 3 ranking, Echo had the privilege of choosing which opponents they would face in the playoffs match. The revised rule book for Season 9 had teams ranked first and third having the advantage of deciding which of the other teams will go head to head in the first two playoff matches. The team ranked third will determine the placement of the fifth- or sixth-ranked teams, and Echo chose the winner between sixth-ranked Smart Omega and fifth-ranked team ONIC PH. It was a decision that eventually backfired as Echo were eliminated in the first match of the playoffs, ending their season ranked fifth to sixth.

"It is what it is," said an emotional Echo coach Michael Angelo "Arcadia" Bocado during their post-match interview. "Kahit ako napatahimik kasi binigay talagang binigay namin lahat this season. Masakit rin talaga pagkatalo pero sinabi ko sa kanila na simula pa lang ito. Hindi kami susuko."

A very aggressive Nexplay EVOS started out the second match with a strong 24-5 win against ONIC PH in just under 15 minutes. But the Season 8 and M3 runner-ups answered back by taking Games Two and Three, leaving them at match point. 

Nexplay EVOS did not go down without a fight as they took Game Four in dominant fashion, 20-8, in 12 minutes and 39 seconds to force a do-or-die match. 

Game Five saw both teams deadlocked, but a team fight by the lord at the 18th-minute mark had Nexplay EVOS short of four players, giving ONIC PH a slight advantage and the eventual win in the 25-minute, 10-second-long match. They eliminated Nexplay EVOS from the playoffs.

Day Two of the playoffs will kick off Friday, April 29, with Smart Omega facing second seed TNC at 4 p.m. and ONIC PH clashing with top seed RSG at 7 p.m.

ESPORTS

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