Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) is one of the most popular mobile MOBA game in Southeast Asia at the moment. Given its status, a world championship tournament fitting for a game of its calibre has taken place at the Axiata Arena last weekend.
Alongside a price of USD 250,000 (~RM 1.038 million), The M1 World Championship 2019 has brought together 32 of the top Mobile Legends teams in the world, who hailed from 13 different countries:
- Malaysia: Todak, Axis Esports
- Philippines: Sunsparks, ONIC PH
- Singapore: EVOS Esports
- Indonesia: EVOS Legends, RRQ
- Myanmar: Burmese Ghouls
- Russia: Deus Vult
- Turkey: Evil Esports
- United States: Team Gosu
- Laos: Candy Comeback
- Japan: 10Second Gaming
- Brazil: GEO Esports
- Cambodia: Impunity
- Vietnam: VEC Fantasy Main
The teams from Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar earned their places in the M1 World Championship through their performances in the most recent season of the Mobile Legends Pro League (MPL), while the remaining 8 teams had to win the M1 qualifier in their respective countries in order to make it to the main event in KL.
The M1 World Championship started off with a round-robin format as the 16 teams were separated into 4 groups, whereby each team had to play all of the other teams in their group once. The top 2 teams from each group then progressed to the playoffs, with the 1st place teams starting in the upper bracket and the 2nd place teams starting in the lower bracket.
In a testament to MLBB’s popularity in Southeast Asia, the SEA teams dominated the group stages. This is with the exception of 10Second Gaming who hailed from Japan and is the only non-Southeast Asian team to make it to the playoffs.
VEC Fantasy Main from Vietnam also deserves an honourable mention for upsetting the reigning MPL MY/SG Champion, EVOS Esports in the group stage, denying EVOS Esports their playoffs spot that many fans thought was a near-guarantee.
With two highest-ranking Malaysian teams from the most recent MPL MY/SG season making it to the playoffs stage, local fans at the Axiata Arena had plenty to cheer for going into the weekend.
However, both Todak and Axis Esports got off to unfortunate starts, as Todak fell to the lower bracket after losing 2-0 to RRQ, while Axis Esports lost their first-round match against 10Second Gaming and was immediately eliminated from the competition.
It wasn’t over yet though, Todak’s first lower bracket opponent just happened to be 10Second Gaming, and they took full advantage of the opportunity to take revenge for their fallen compatriots. After a thrilling match that ended 2-1, Todak advanced to the next round where they would face a Burmese Ghouls team that was having a decent run of their own.
Meanwhile, in the upper bracket finals, EVOS Legends produced a decisive 3-0 victory over RRQ, their opponent from the most recent MPL Indonesia grand finals. With that victory, the Indonesian champions were looking like even stronger favourites than before.
Todak took care of business against Burmese Ghouls, defeating 2-0 and causing the Malaysian crowd to erupt. Thanks to Todak’s valiant efforts, we would have a Malaysian team in the top 3 of the M1 World Championship.
Alas, Todak’s momentum was not enough to carry them all the way through to the grand finals. Undisturbed by their loss to EVOS Legends and determined to make their way back to the grand finals, RRQ played excellently to win the first 2 games of the BO5 series in the lower bracket finals.
Todak refused to give up in the face of elimination. They fought back to win game 3 as Moonnnnnnn played a perfect game on Chang’e to lead the way with a KDA of 5-0-6.
However, it just wasn’t meant to be their day. RRQ regrouped quickly for game 4 to win their 3rd game and close out the series, booking their spot in the grand finals while leaving Todak to settle for 3rd place.
Despite their loss, Todak left the stage smiling and with their heads held high as the Malaysian fans in the arena showed their appreciation for their local heroes in a bittersweet yet heartwarming scene. Once again Todak had fallen just short of winning the championship, but they had done plenty to make Malaysia proud.
And so the stage was set for the grand finals of the M1 World Championship. It would be EVOS Legends vs RRQ – an all Indonesian grand finals and a hotly anticipated rematch between the top 2 teams of MPL Indonesia.
The grand finals set was an absolutely gruelling best-of-seven format that went the distance and lasted over 5 hours. EVOS Legends and RRQ went back forth, trading kills, towers and games with very little to separate them. And yet somehow, when the end came, it happened almost too quickly to comprehend.
Maybe EVOS Legends had finally figured RRQ out after a full 7 game series, or maybe the RRQ players had just reached the limit of their mental and physical strength after having to fight through the lower bracket finals. After an incredibly close series, EVOS Legends won game 7 in what seemed like an instant, crushing RRQ’s last line of resistance within 8 minutes to earn themselves the title of MLBB World Champions.
The EVOS players leapt out of their seats in ecstasy as EVOS staff members piled into the player booth for an emotional celebration, the fans applauding for the victor as well as one of the best sets of competitive MLBB that anyone has ever witnessed.
In the closing ceremony that followed, EVOS was presented with their prize of $80,000 USD and their championship trophy, but they had achieved something far more significant than any sum of prize money: they had won for their fans and their country.
First as the champions of Indonesia, and now champions of the world. EVOS Legends, for all time.
(Photography by Bryan Lim for Lowyat.NET. Additional images and full results: M1 World Championship 2019.)
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