The results of Battle Hardened Manila (BH Manila) are now in! Let’s recap each event that happened during this amazing Trading Card Game milestone in the country.
BH Manila is the first-ever international tournament held in the Philippines for the Flesh and Blood Trading Card Game (FaB TCG) by Legend Story Studios (LSS). Unbox Greenhills, headed by Carlo Ople, who is also an avid fan and a prominent figure in the local FaB community, and Ludus Distributors, headed by Des Tan, have collaborated to bring the biggest FaB tournament yet. I’ve written at length about the details of the event, and you can read about those below, but the tl;dr is that… it’s a pretty big deal.
You see, the Philippines hasn’t been on LSS’s radar much as a major hub for their game in Southeast Asia (SEA). They do recognize the region’s potential and as such, still allocated a good amount of Battle Hardeneds and Callings (which like bigger BHs) in the neighboring countries with bigger player counts like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, or Taiwan.
That all changed last year when FaB TCG experienced explosive growth in the Philippines, and player count grew exponentially. Thanks to Carlo’s constant efforts to promote the game both online and off, the Philippine FaB community has been able to set World Records for both the biggest Armory (FaB’s weekly local gaming store tournament), and the biggest Skirmish (one of FaB’s seasonal tournaments). LSS was quick to take notice and behind the scenes, plans for BH Manila were made.
BH Manila was finally announced much to the joy of the local community. Throughout the latter part of the year FaB TCG has been attracting card game veterans looking for greener pastures and first-time players who are enthusiastic to get into the hobby. While most are content with how the community is and how the tournament scene plays out, very few things seal the deal than an international event held on home soil as a sign that both the game and community are in good hands.
Blitz is a bit of a divisive format for a main event. Newer players love it for its faster pace, larger hero pool, and being more budget-friendly since they need to buy fewer cards. More veteran players prefer playing Classic Constructed for its longer games that enable a lot of back-and-forth gameplay and skill expression, but for Manila’s inaugural Battle Hardened, the more accessible format won the day. Classic Constructed enjoyers need not fret though, as the Pro Tour Invitation Tournament – the other major tournament that will be held on Sunday during the BH weekend, will be played in their favorite FaB format.
Battle Hardened Manila Results – Super Armory (Blitz Format)
BH Manila kicked off with the Philippines setting another World Record for the biggest Super Armory with more than 100 registered players. The halls (and outside) of Unbox Greenhills were packed full of both local and international FaB players. Among them are some of the prominent figures from the international fab community like Fab Metal Token’s Brandon, and the guest artist Isuardi Therianto. As a special welcome treat, a serving of pancit canton (which is peak gaming food) was given to everyone. At the end of the night, 6 Filipino players have ended up with the coveted 4-0 record. Randel Anonuevo, Kevin Pilapil, Alvin Mendoza, Edric Ramos, Nathaniel Bea, and Carlos Sandico IV carried their respective Heroes to a perfect performance and went home with a lot of great prizes.
Battle Hardened Manila Results – Main Event (Blitz Format)
The main event the next day was held at the Activity Center of the Ayala Malls Manila Bay, and it was such a great venue as everything one might need throughout a long day of gaming is very much within reach. Situated in the enclosed area are food and drinks wittily named after some popular cards that were sold by NEO Coffee and Bar, while both local and international FaB stores have their respective booths for anyone planning to shop around during the weekend.
A large screen occupies the center stage, broadcasting the feature match table. Jigs De Asis and Jamie Inocian, along with the commentary team of Jaime Manzano and Neil Bautista did a great job live-streaming the event and bringing the action to the audience. The Judge team made sure everyone followed the requisite competitive rules enforcement level (REL) and was headed by Wella Ladera, with Patrick Dogelio handling appeals. Meanwhile, Reuben Ferrer and Chuanjie Seow led the floor judge team of Ivan Alaba, Kyle Lantion, Ryan Larson, and Paolo Lorica.
175 players showed up for the main event, making this one of the most attended Battle Hardeneds in FaB TCG’s 5-year history. A parade of teams opened the event – a recognition of the different groups of players who devoted their time and talents to helping the game grow and fostered a friendly, competitive environment where everyone can continuously improve. 10 teams were represented (Unbox included!), all with their unique names, though I think none can top “Emeritus for 4”.
The field showed a clear favorite – Dash’s explosive firepower just proved to be too alluring for most players as they sleeved up and placed their hopes on the Mechanologist Hero. Following her not too far behind is FaB’s OG Brute – Rhinar, who had a bunch of new cards to play and deal huge amounts of damage with from the new Heavy Hitters set. Hot on his heels is Dorinthea, who also gained several useful Warrior upgrades. Rounding up this seemingly Welcome To Rathe (FaB’s very first set) reunion is Bravo, who also got his fair share of new Guardian cards to work with. Beyond these Heroes, the rest of the field seemed like a huge free-for-all, with most players playing whatever they wanted and hoping that the battles they face would go their way.
The Top 8 of the event were announced after 8 Swiss Rounds of Blitz, with Team Unbox’s very own Justin Cu, who won The Calling: Taipei late last year, leading the pack. He was using one of the new heroes from FaB’s latest set, Heavy Hitters, and caught everyone by surprise at the sheer amount of damage that Victor Goldmane could do. He was followed by the only international competitor to make the cut: Fee Sen Sei, who’s using Vynnset. The rest of the playoff group is made up of two more Team Unbox members – Carlo Ople, and Mark Octavio, who are both on Briar. With them are Dave Versosa on Rhinar, Trix Fereras on Dorinthea, Andre See on Prism, Advent of Thrones, and Franco Regalado on Dash. It was a very interesting mix of metagame powerhouses, dark horse picks, and new strategies.
At the end of the playoffs, Justin proved that the new Hero is a force to be reckoned with, defeating Fee Sen Sei in the finals, defending the land with a perfect 11-0 record, and adding the title of Battle Hardened Champion to his illustrious resume of FaB achievements.
You can watch Unbox’s video recap HERE.
Ludus Distributors has also released their video recap! You can watch it HERE.
Battle Hardened Manila Results – Pro Tour Invitation Tournament (Classic Constructed Format)
Sunday came and it was the Pro Tour Invitation (PTI) Tournament that was the highlight of the day. 7 rounds of hour-long battles in the Classic Constructed format tested both the skill and endurance of all 100+ competitors who signed up that day. It was a diverse field that was worlds different from the metagame of other regions, with Azalea, Bravo, Katsu, Dash, and Kassai being the most represented Heroes of the day, much to the surprise of the Western players who were watching the live stream.
Even more surprising was the Top 8 cut. Ezekiel Recalade led the pack with a perfect record using an interesting and complicated deck for a Hero that most players thought was just okay – Dorinthea. Behind him is another Warrior – Kassai, who is the breakout star from the new Heavy Hitters set this time around. She is piloted by a familiar face from the previous day: Andre See returns to the playoffs stage as the ONLY player in BH Manila who Top 8’d BOTH events! Ralph Gomeri proves that he knows his combos the best out of all the Katsus that day as he represents the Ninja as the third seed. Bravo crushed the competition to bring two more locals to the stage with Kampai Bustamante, the first Philippine National Champion, and Gerry Kawada. Finally, in a bigger unexpected twist – 3 out of the 5 Fai’s who joined rounded up the Top 8! Peng Joon, Malaysian influencer and the only International representative who made the cut, Khyle Alviz, and yours truly, blazed headlong into the field and earned the Draconic Ninja the best conversion rate out of all the Heroes that day.
After the dust settled late into the night it was Kampai Bustamante who stood at the top, winning against Andre See in the finals and earning himself the coveted PTI.
In many ways, Battle Hardened Manila was a test to the whole local FaB community, with the results defining the place of Philippine Flesh and Blood on the world stage. Will we be able to accommodate international contingents flying in? Will our local players be able to step up to the competition? Will the quality of production be on par with what we see in tournaments overseas? Will our community leaders be able to unite and work together to bring this historic event to reality? In many ways, the answer is a resounding yes. As a player, I believe that overall, BH Manila was a huge success by one simple metric – the players are happy, and they want more.
As I walked around the venue and talked to people, most of the sentiments boiled down to two things: that they were grateful and elated that we finally have a big, prestigious event such as this, and that because of their experiences from here, they want to play more, do better, and can’t wait for the Road To Nationals season roll in.
Beyond that, I think the Philippines’ door seems open and ready to go again for bigger opportunities that are calling on the horizon.
We consider Flesh and Blood TCG one of the best games to play this year – check out the rest on our list.
Battle Hardened Manila not enough? Looking for more international FaB competition? Calling: Phuket is right around the corner! Check our article about it.