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Exclusive: Blacklist Rivalry’s biggest rivals in the TI12 SEA qualifiers just might be themselves

Blacklist Rivalry is one of the favorites to come through the stacked TI12 SEA qualifiers — and few can stand in their way, according to their coaches.

Kenny “Xepher” Deo and Adam “343” Erwann Shah, talked about their dual-coach setup, their preparation for the TI12 SEA qualifiers, and who they regard as their biggest rivals in an exclusive interview with ONE Esports.

Why Blacklist Rivalry is using a dual-coach setup

“I handle a lot more of the big picture strategy-ish, kind of aspect, drafting, comms. I focus a lot on the habits of players because I feel like as a drafter there’s going to be a lot of times where we have to adapt.”

Fans were surprised to hear that Xepher, who was an active player through 2023, suddenly switched to coaching for the TI12 qualifiers — but that was precisely the reason why the 27-year-old is valuable to Blacklist.

“The reason we ended up working together was because Kenny is obviously one of the fresher pro players that’s come into coaching,” 343 said. “I’ve been out of coaching out of the pro scene for a very long time, and he covers a lot of my weakness, which are like small little details in the game.”

“I think this is kind of interesting because of my personality. I really like to help people,” Xepher said. “Maybe I have this hidden passion in myself. For now, I think I feel really comfortable being assistant coach.”

“He’s very easy to work with for me,” 343 said. “We’ve known each other for quite a while, so this is how the setup kind of came about for us.”

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Blacklist’s rival prep involves watching a lot of pubs, and being their own biggest rivals

Credit: Valve, ONE Esports

To evaluate their opponents in the SEA qualifiers, 343 said that since they mostly scrimmed outside their region, the best way was to observe players’ habits through public matchmaking.

He thought that Bleed, in general, “have very good Dota habits compared to a lot of teams.”

“For example, not walking up high ground or if your teammates are dying, you’re out. They’re very fast and very clear about their decisions. You can consider that personal skill or mechanics or Dota knowledge, but I feel like they are in a good place right now, even though we have not played them at all. I feel like what I see is that they can be good.”

As for Xepher, who did he think would potentially be their biggest rivals en route to TI12 qualification?

“I think ourselves. I’m not trying to be arrogant, because I just feel like this team can beat anyone,” Xepher said.

As of the time of writing, Blacklist is poised to qualify for TI12, finding themselves in the upper bracket final after two excellent series — against Army Geniuses and Bleed Esports — with no dropped games. Two more series to go, and the team can prove Xepher’s faith in them isn’t misplaced.