Armageddon kings Laguna stun Manila in Wesley So Cup semis

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Armageddon kings Laguna stun Manila in Wesley So Cup semis

MANILA, Philippines – With their backs against the wall, the Laguna Heroes dug deep into their reservoir of resiliency and late-game heroics to stun the Manila Indios Bravos, 2-1, in Armageddon in the semifinals of the Northern Division of the Wesley So Cup.

Laguna took blitz play in set No. 1, 5-2, with Manila’s Indonesian import Yosef Taher and Cris Ramayrat able to make any headway against the Heroes.

The Indios Bravos stormed back in rapid play but managed only a draw, 7-7, to give the Heroes a 12-9 win.

In the second set, Laguna once more ruled blitz play with an identical score of 5-2. This time in rapid chess, Manila overcame Laguna, 10-4, for a 12-9 result to send the game into a shootout.

In extra time, Manila seized the early advantage when IM Taher took down GM John Paul Gomez. Laguna’s GM Kiril Shevchenko answered with a win over FM Deniel Causo leaving the fate of both squads in the hands of Laguna’s GM Banjo Barcenilla and Manila’s NM Jerome Balico.

Balico was slightly ahead on time although GM Barcenilla was in a slightly better position. With a minute left, Barcenilla was able to convert for the 2-1 win.

Laguna somewhat struggled in the Wesley So Cup as they dropped four more matches than they did in the All-Filipino Cup where they emerged as the first ever champion of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines. 

Finishing third in this Wesley So Cup, they defeated Pasig in two games in the quarterfinals, and now, Manila in the final four. In the division finals, they face that familiar foe in the San Juan Predators, who they bested last conference.

In this competition, the Predators are a much better team. They not only broke the elimination round best record with a slate of 31-3. The previous 30-4 record was jointly held by Laguna, Camarines, and Iloilo. Furthermore, Laguna beat Laguna in both elimination round matches so the Heroes know the Predators are for real.

The two part ways this Wednesday, July 28, in the northern division finals.

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