The last time we checked in with Blacklist Rivalry, things were a bit messy for the Redeem Team. Missed qualifiers, roster changes left and right, and talks of impending team building activities surrounded the homegrown squad. But things have picked up since the beginning of the year, and Blacklist Rivalry has a lot of things to look forward to.

The Bad News First

Let’s get the negative out of the way first. DreamLeague continues to elude BLR as they failed to qualify for Season 23 against some of the top Southeast Asia teams. After a decent start against MAG Indonesia, they fell to the Lower Bracket against the new-look Talon Esports. It was there they were able to fend off Blackl—err, Team Darleng 3.0, Coach Kuku’s stack, members of which include former BLR players Raven and Carlo. After advancing however, they were stopped in their tracks by 23, Jabz, and the rest of Aurora, who would then go on to win the whole thing and qualify for DreamLeague 23.

Two Out Of Three, Not Bad

Thankfully, the rest of Blacklist Rivalry’s month went in their favor. 

After a trial run, they officially signed Palos as their starting carry, and, after benching and eventually letting go of Carlo, they brought on veteran Peruvian support Romel Quinteros "Mjz" Rojas. And after a handful of roster changes, Blacklist Rivalry seems to have found their stride with this iteration of the squad.

Organized by FIssure and ESB, Elite League is one of the newest Tier 1 tournaments in the 2024 Dota calendar. Set to happen in the first two weeks of April, it features twenty four teams battling it out for a million dollar prize pool.

Blacklist Rivalry's qualification did not come easy. They started off with a match against Salvation Gaming, a Philippine-Malaysian stack filled with top leaderboard players. After that, they met up against Bleed Esports, looking to take revenge for past clashes. Two 2-0s later, they ended up in the Upper Bracket Final against Team Darleng 2.0, an earlier iteration with Kuku still in the Position 3. Team Darleng took the first game in a 50-minute match, but Blacklist quickly countered in Game 2, dispatching the stack in just 24 minutes. Game 3 also went 50 minutes, but Blacklist were able to prevail in the end and qualify for Elite League in Europe.

PGL Wallachia was even more eventful for the team. First off, they had to fight for their spot by starting off in the Open Qualifiers. After three matches, they went on to the Closed Qualifiers. Out the gate, they were dropped to the Lower Bracket after a 1-2 loss against the revamped Geek Fam, where Blacklist had to play at a disadvantage. According to insider sources, the power went out in the team’s bootcamp, and the team failed to check in on time. This caused them to default Game 1 and start off with a 0-1 score. Although they were able to win Game 2, all it took was Geek Fam to take Game 3 to get knocked down.

There, the crawl started for Blacklist Rivalry. Backs against the wall, and determined to live up to their Redeem Team nickname, and to prove that their Elite League qualification was not a fluke, and to shut down the notion that they are only strong against weaker teams, Blacklist Rivalry grinded it out. After two clean 2-0 wins against MANTA Esports and Bleed Esports, they end up in the Lower Bracket Semifinals against Geek Fam, ready to take revenge and take what is rightfully theirs.

Geek Fam were able to take the first map off of BLR, but thanks to a strong team outing, BLR tied it up in Game 2 off the back of a 6/0/13 Puck performance from Abed. Tims and Gabbi were crucial in setting up picks and teamfights, with their Grimstroke and Centaur Warrunner netting 9/1/14 and 2/4/20 score lines. Game 3 painted a similar story, with the team's superior rotations and macro, they were able to secure the win, this time with Palos popping off on a 7/1/10 Faceless Void.

After back-to-back game days, the week was not over for BLR, however, as they had two more matches to go. In the Lower Bracket Final, they went up against Talon. This time, Blacklist would take revenge for DreamLeague CQs, and the tables would turn as BLR eliminated ChYuaN and squad to move on to the finals after another clean set of games. 

The finals would be a hyped one as Neon had played the same teams as Blacklist in this tournament, dropping MANTA, Geek Fam, and Talon on their tear through the Upper Bracket. This would be another grudge match as it was Neon who sent Blacklist to the Lower Bracket way back in January at the DreamLeague Season 21 Southeast Asia Closed Qualifiers. Blacklist proved to be the dominant team this time around as they handily took care of business, sweeping Neon 3-0 with an average game time of 38 minutes and 25 seconds. With that victory, they booked their ticket to Bucharest for another million dollar tournament, PGL Wallachia.