January has been a long month for everyone. A LONG month. Like, it’s crazy how long that month was. Take for instance, the Blacklist Rivalry Dota 2 squad, who has been on an emotional roller coaster for the past four weeks. Let’s take a look back at what happened since we last saw our Redeem Team.
Hey, a win is a win, even if that win came from a Tier 3 tournament that had longer musical performances than actual games. They went undefeated in the group stage, beating fellow PH teams Execration and ZOL Esports, as well as Malaysia's Myth Avenue Gaming and Whoops! from the India Qualifiers. In the bracket stage, they handily beat Mongolia's IHC Esports, before heading to the Grand Final to once again face off against Execration. The two home teams played in front of their home crowd, and you know Philippine Dota LANs just hit different when you're there. Playing in front of a packed Mall of Asia Arena, Blacklist Rivalry brought the fight and swept Execration to become APAC Predator League 2024 champions, bringing home Blacklist’s first trophy for 2024 and the lion's share of the prize pool—a hefty $65,000. Carry Marc Polo “Raven” Fausto was named MVP of the tournament, winning an addition $10,000.
Blacklist Rivalry has not had the most fortunate January when it comes to qualifying tournaments. They entered three qualifiers, and finished 5th-6th in all of them.
First up was the BetBoom Dacha Dubai Qualifiers for China and Southeast Asia. A much more competitive qualifier than usual thanks in part to the fact that they only have one slot for two regions—CN and SEA. In the opening round they suffered a loss to Mongolia's IHC Esports. Dropping to the Lower Bracket, they met G2.IG where they won 2-0. Advancing to the next round, they were stopped in their tracks by the pinoys of Geek Fam.
A week later, they would go on to the DreamLeague Season 22 SEA Qualifiers. They started off strong with a 2-0 win against MooN and Fbz's stack, Among Us, who came in from the Open Qualifiers. In the Upper Bracket Semifinals, they went up against Neon Esports. A quick Game 1 ended in just under 23 minutes, and Neon denied the comeback in Game 2, sending BLR to the Lower Bracket. Waiting for them there was DJ, JaCkky, and the rest of Bleed Esports, who finished the job with another 2-0 victory.
In between qualifiers was the Predator League, and headed into the ESL One Birmingham SEA Qualifiers, the team made the decision to make a few roster changes. They brought in Jinn Marrey "Palos" Lamatao to stand-in as their carry after announcing that they would be releasing BLR long time carry Raven. They also brought in reinforcements at the coaching position in the form of Kim "DuBu" Doo-young.
With a new perspective and fresh off from winning Predator League, they came into another qualifying tournament with high hopes. They once again started off strong, winning against MAG.Indonesia in a pretty convincing fashion. It was once again Geek Fam, however, that would play spoiler as they would knock them down to the Lower Bracket. This time, Palos would face his former team Execration, who the team just beat to win the Predator League. Execration would take revenge, however, by beating BLR and dropping them out of Birmingham.
Let’s face it, roster changes are normal in the world of Dota. Teams swap out players and players jump teams all the time. And for Blacklist Rivalry, it’s no different. Only Timothy “TIMS” Randrup has remained from the original lineup, and the team has trialed a handful of coaches as well. No one can say for sure that this current lineup will stay together, and only time will tell when redemption will come for the Redeem Team.