The playoffs of the Mobile Legends Pro League Season 4 took place over the weekend, and we were treated with possibly the best MPL grand finals to date, preceded by a playoffs bracket full of entertaining and suspenseful matches.
On day 1 of the playoffs, the 2 teams favoured to win the championship got off to strong starts as both EVOS Esports SG and Todak were able to defeat their opponents 2-0 in the first round of the winners bracket, sending Resurgence and Axis Esports to the losers bracket where they would await the victors of Geek Fam vs XPAX X-Assins and Notorious Villains vs Shopee Bosskurr.
Geek Fam dispatched XPAX X-Assins 2-0, showing solid play to start their hopeful run towards a second consecutive MPL championship. While in the other losers bracket match, the Malaysian fan favourites Shopee Bosskurr were unfortunately defeated 2-1 by the Singaporean team Notorious Villains in a close series despite having the vehement support of the home crowd at KL LIVE.
Geek Fam then matched up against Resurgence in losers bracket round 2, where Resurgence took full advantage of their prime opportunity to eliminate the defending champions. Resurgence won an extremely close game 1 that had barely any kills and gold separating the 2 teams. In game 2, Resurgence held a significant gold and tower advantage all the way up to the 15th minute mark, but Geek Fam displayed their mettle as a defending champion to rally together in an explosive comeback to take game 2. However, Resurgence proved to be the team that wanted it more. Perhaps driven by the memories of their disappointing playoffs defeat in season 3, Resurgence held strong to close out the series and eliminate Geek Fam.
Meanwhile on the other side of the losers bracket, we were treated to another great series between Axis Esports and Notorious Villains. Although the Singaporean side had emerged victorious in the match between Resurgence and Geek Fam, Axis Esports would even the score with their 2-1 victory in this series, making sure that 2 Malaysian teams and 2 Singaporean teams would advance to the top 4 of the playoffs. As our playoff picture for day 2 was set, we found all 4 of the teams that started the playoffs in the upper bracket, back in the top 4 spots of the playoffs. EVOS Esports SG vs Todak on the winners side, and Resurgence vs Axis Esports on the losers side. It would be the 2 most dominant Malaysian teams against the 2 most dominant Singaporean teams from the regular season facing off in the final stages of the playoffs – just the way we were hoping for.
Day 2 of the playoffs kicked off with the winners bracket final between Todak and EVOS, and it was a terrific way to start the day. Todak won the series 2-0 pulling out several dramatic team fights which set the crowd’s energy on fire. The crowd made it clear who their favourite in the match was, chanting Todak’s name as the team pushed to victory and secured their place in the grand finals.
Seeing their compatriot’s performance and the support they were getting from the home crowd, Axis Esports were surely motivated as they stepped on stage for their own losers bracket semi-final match against Resurgence. Unfortunately for them, Resurgence were steadfast in their play, refusing to let the pressure from the environment affect them as they won game 1 convincingly.
It wasn’t over by a long shot. Axis Esports had made it that far in the bracket for a reason, and they bounced back to dominate Resurgence in game 2 behind an MVP performance of 12/1/8 by Loong. Axis Esports was looking like they really had what it takes going into game 3, but Resurgence continued to prove that they were the fiercest competitors in the playoffs. Loong tried to lead Axis Esports to victory once again in game 3, but Resurgence stayed together as a team and executed team fights cleanly down the stretch to eliminate Axis Esports, silencing the crowd at KL LIVE.
This put Resurgence in the losers bracket finals against EVOS Esports SG. The winner of this match would proceed to the grand finals, and although Resurgence had proved themselves to be incredible competitors, they were simply outclassed by their opponents this time around. EVOS proceeded to completely dismantle Resurgence in a quick series where the 2 games combined barely lasted a total of 20 minutes. It was a 2-0 victory for EVOS, and a rematch with Todak in the grand finals.
And so the stage was set for what will definitely go down as one of the best grand finals in MPL history. As the Todak and EVOS took to the stage for the final battle of MPL season 4, it was clear who the crowd was behind. The crowd roared in approval as Todak crushed EVOS in game 1, but the Singaporean team was no run of the mill opponent. EVOS quickly returned the favour by dominating game 2 to even up the series and quickly cut off any momentum that Todak had built, taking a steady approach to control their opponents and end it at the 25 minute mark.
In a crucial game 3 where both teams were trying to seize the initiative, Todak showed their opponents and the fans exactly who they were. EVOS tried to employ a similar strategy to the one they did in game 2, controlling the map and the flow of the game for most of the match, but Todak’s aggression and fast paced fighting style could not be controlled. Although EVOS had kept the score as close as possible in terms of gold and towers, they simply could not keep up with Todak when it came to team fights, as Todak forced their way into the EVOS base and brought the crowd back to life, taking a 2-1 advantage in the grand finals.
Game 4, championship point for Todak. Momentum and the crowd were on their side as they had the opportunity to close out the series, but it was not to be. This time, it was EVOS’s turn to prove that they were truly worthy of the MPL season 4 championship. Adapting easily to Todak’s playstyle, EVOS shut down any signs of aggression around the map to completely dominate every possible stat in game 4. It was a textbook victory for EVOS where not one of Todak’s heroes was able to build momentum throughout the game, and thus we were treated to the most exciting scenario possible – two evenly matched teams from Malaysia and Singapore to play one final game to decide the MPL championship.
Keeping up their momentum from game 4, EVOS continued to control the flow of the match in the final game, pushing Todak to the very edge as EVOS breached Todak’s base by the 17 minute mark. It could’ve easily been the end of everything at that point, but Todak’s fighting spirit, bolstered by the deafening cheers of the Malaysian crowd, refused to be extinguished. Todak fought back, pushing EVOS all they way back to their base at the opposite side of the map as the crowd cheered ecstatically for every kill that Todak managed to snatch.
Todak fought as hard as they could, but the end came quickly and decisively. Todak’s base was completely exposed thanks to EVOS’s earlier pushes, and despite the pressure that Todak was attempting to exert, EVOS knew exactly how to capitalise.
Knowing that Todak would have to kill Lord in order to set up a winning push, EVOS laid in wait for their opponents to approach. As they expected, Todak committed their heroes towards Lord, and EVOS didn’t miss the opportunity to pounce. Todak quickly found themselves on the back foot as EVOS initiated the fight, forcing Todak to retreat and giving EVOS the space to quickly secure Lord for themselves – and so the match was decided. Forced to fight in an unfavourable position and with their unprotected base under attack by Lord, Todak was checkmated, and all EVOS had to do was clean up Todak’s heroes and storm down mid with Lord in tow to secure the MPL Season 4 championship.
It wasn’t the outcome they had hoped for, but the Malaysian fans in the crowd could not help but applaud for EVOS as they and their numerous loyal fans who were present celebrated becoming the new MPL champions. The Mobile Legends world had just witnessed a classic, and although Todak were clearly heartbroken by the loss, they walked out with their heads held high. MPL Season 4 was in the books, EVOS was the well deserved champion, clearly the better team whose performance in this playoffs will certainly define the meta for the season to come.
As for Todak, their debut MPL season didn’t have the fairy-tale ending they wanted, but they had won the hearts of the Mobile Legends fans, and they would be back to fight another day.
Source: Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
Featured Image Credit: Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
Image Credits: Mobile Legends: Bang Bang