Ahead of the regional qualifiers for The International 2023, PH-based Blacklist Rivalry employ the help of Adam “343” Erwann Shah and Kenny “Xepher” Deo to fill in their recently vacated coaching positions. With their wealth of experience and passion for the game, the new coaching duo are set to redefine Blacklist Rivalry's identity and help lead the team at one last chance at redemption

Announced on their social media channels last August 3, the decision comes after the release of their previous coach, Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross, who joined the team last February and led them during their DPC Tour 2 and 3 runs. After a group stage exit at the Bali Major in July, the org decided to “seek other options in order to explore other playstyles and a different approach to the game.” 

Long-standing figures in the scene, 343 and Xepher are the perfect fit for Blacklist Rivalry, who are looking to revamp their playstyle and identity. 

Having played in various orgs across multiple regions, with experience as a coach and a caster and analyst, 343 is an all-around talent who can bring in new perspectives and philosophies to the team’s game. 

“I'm really excited to coach the team, all of them were playing back in the day when I was as well so I believe we're going to work well together.” 343 said when asked what he feels about joining the team. “What I'm gonna be focusing on is getting the team on the same page in game and the process of getting there.” he added.

His addition to the team brings a bevy of experience that is not easy to find in the scene. With TI experience as a player having finished 4th in 2016, as well as coaching Fnatic to multiple podium finishes from 2017 to 2018, 343 has a proven track record of success. Paired with the correct ingredients, he could help propel this new Blacklist Rivalry to new heights. His deep knowledge of the game will also work hand in hand with current analyst and fellow caster Nathaniel “Nate” Wicks, who joined the team back at the beginning of the year.

His right hand man, Xepher, will be making his coaching debut with Blacklist Rivalry. Most recently part of BOOM Esports, he's also played in SEA mainstay orgs such as Geek Fam, T1, and TNC.

“Personally, I like helping people so being assistant coach is kinda interesting. I think I can help make the team better, both individually and as a team playing together, adjusting to each other, giving more ideas, among other things.” Xepher said.

Xepher is also no stranger to the boys of Blacklist Rivalry. Alongside Carlo “Kuku” Palad and Karl “Karl” Baldovino, they won the ESL One Summer 2021 tournament as part of T1. They also played with Marc Polo “Raven” Fausto in Geek Fam to win other Tier 2 tournaments such as the BTS Pro Series Season 2 SEA and the One Esports Dota 2 SEA League in 2020.

With years of experience in the support role, the two coaches could be just what the team needs; mentors to Captain and recent support convert Kuku, and Pos 4 stalwart Timothy “TIMS” Randrup. 

Aside from the firepower brought in by offlaner Damien “kpii” Chok, the team’s rising success in the last DPC Tour can be attributed to the strong shotcalling by Kuku, who brings the strong voice that the team needs to lead them, as well as quick decision making by Tims. A highlight of the Bali Major, their historic 49k gold comeback against Invictus Gaming was born from a call by Tims, who asked Raven if he wanted to end by TP-ing to their opponents base against an exposed Ancient

With all the synergy and chemistry that rises with the addition of 343 and Xepher, the new helm of Blacklist Rivalry creates a harmonious balance between experience and innovation. Only time will tell if this truly is a match made in elo heaven.

The team is set to play in the upcoming regional qualifiers for The International 2023, which will be the last chance for teams to qualify for the annual tournament, the biggest in esports. The regional qualifier for SEA begins August 27, with The International returning to Seattle in October.