Different arena, same results.
Talk ‘N Text kept its mastery of rival Barangay Ginebra, this time in a virtual arena after completing a 3-0 sweep in the grand finals to become the inaugural PBA Esports Bakbakan Mobile Legends: Bang Bang champion Monday night before a sizeable crowd at the Circuit Makati Event Hall.
Only 10 days after unseating the reigning champion Gin Kings on the hardcourt to win the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup, the Tropang Giga conquered another throne in the “Land of Dawn” by essaying one comeback after another in the best-of-five championship series to rule the prominent online mobile game.
Aaren “TNT.Sindel” Palermo shone brightest for the Tropang Giga, claiming the Finals’ MVP plum after anchoring their three straight victories behind the lethal carry heroes of Karrie and Beatrix.
“Shoutout po sa tatay ko. Shoutout sa pamilya ko. At shoutout sa mga kakampi ko, kung hindi dahil sakanila, hindi namin ito makukuha at hindi ako magiging MVP,” said Sindel, one of the revelations in the historic PBA Esports tourney that also featured PBA players, fans, students, influencers and ex-pro gamers.
Sindel unleashed a 7/1/4 KDA (kill-death-assist), while earning 12K gold as the Tropang Giga clawed back from a 9-16 (kills), 3-6 (towers) and 6K-gold deficit in Game 1 to draw first blood.
TNT then took command with a dominant Game 2 win behind Sindel’s Beatrix (7/0/7 KDA, 12K gold) and saved its best for last with another come-from-behind win in Game 3 behind Sindel’s Beatrix masterclass (6/1/8 KDA, 14K gold) once again.
The Tropang Giga flipped a massive 1-5 tower and 4K gold deficit in the clincher by slaying a crucial Level 3 Lord in the 16-minute mark, snowballing their way in the middle lane highlighted by three pickoffs of Sindel to finish off Ginebra’s base in almost 18 minutes of play.
TNT.KingJastro (Jason Robante) with his Fredrinn, Edith of TNT.Emperorzxc (Nathanael Teodoro), Kaja of TNT.Regi (Reginald Agustin) and Kagura of TNT.4na4na (Bryan Bollas) also provided solid coverage as the Tropang Giga claimed the P750,000 grand prize.
Ginebra, led by the country’s most prominent esports figure in Naser “Akosi Dogie” Mollazehi (GSM.Layla Only), Aaron Raphael Pascual (GSM.Uzic), Anton Jose Cabrillas (GSM.Shaibel), Lance Aaron Misa (GSM.Lansu) and Gellert Pangilinan (GSM.Briskzzz) took home P250,000 as runner-up.
The Gin Kings swept Phoenix Super LPG, 2-0, while the Tropang Giga carved out a 2-1 win over Northport to arrange a Last Dance in the momentous PBA Esports tourney in partnership with Dark League Studios led by CEO AC Valdenor with the support of PBA governors Alfrancis Chua of Ginebra and Bobby Rosales of Terrafirma.
MLBB, where the Philippines has stamped its class over the years highlighted by two gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games and three World Championship crowns, is only the first of the many online games in the pipeline of PBA Esports featuring its 12 franchises.
Converge, Magnolia, Meralco, Rain or Shine, NLEX, San Miguel, Terrafirma and Blackwater also stood their ground in the historic tourney in a bid to bridge the gap between basketball and Esports in the sports-crazy Philippines.