Tournament Highlights: The Top 15 Isabuhay Battles

By Dante Romero

   Since 2013, the Isabuhay Tournament has been an exciting tradition of FlipTop. Who wouldn’t enjoy witnessing 16 battle emcees squaring off for the 100k prize and the title of champion? Whether it’s the first round or the finals, this annual event has given us some of the most memorable showdowns in the league.

   Here are the top 15 battles that took place in the tournament from 2013 to 2019. Watch them all again and get more hyped up for this year’s semifinals. By the way, this is in no particular order, so no need to fight with fellow fans over rankings. Let’s begin! 

15. Andy G vs. Sinio

   Andy G and Sinio provided us with laugh-out-loud moments in their quarterfinal battle at the 2013 tournament. Both emcees were able to showcase their unique brand of humor without abandoning their sharp lyrical skills. Up to now, fans continue to quote the various punchlines from this match. 

14. Poison13 vs. Dosage

   Dosage vs. Poison13 is a clash of styles that will be remembered for years to come. Dosage came in swinging with his Leftfield bars, and despite of its complexity, the crowd still enjoyed every second of it. Poison13 cleverly mixed his serious and comedic bars, and he delivered each one convincingly. Seven judges gave it to Poison13, but fans agree that it was a close battle.

13. Batas vs. Sayadd

   When two hardcore lyricists face off in the battle stage, it’s an instant classic! The quarterfinal bout between Batas and Sayadd was a barfest from the first to the third round. Not only did they drop the hardest and most intricate bars, but they also showed raw aggression all throughout. Much props to both of them for not holding back, despite being in the same crew.

12. Apekz vs. Mhot

   2017 was Mhot’s year, but it was definitely not an easy journey for him. His biggest obstacle came in the semifinals where he took on Apekz. Mhot was able to silence his critics by beating the veteran not only with hard-hitting punchlines, but crazy rebuttals as well. Despite the loss, Apekz still looked strong all throughout this battle. His angles were on point, and his pen game was sharper than ever.

11. Aklas vs. BLKD

   The final round of the 2013 tournament remains to be controversial to this day. Whether you agree with the result or not, you can’t deny that both rappers brought their A-game. BLKD proved why he’s one of the most respected technical emcees in the league while Aklas wowed the crowd with this unorthodox lyricism. It’s the perfect definition of an epic style clash.

10. Lanzeta vs. Sixth Threat

   2019 is far from over, but battle rap heads are already calling this the battle of the year. Lanzeta and Sixth Threat’s second round clash is the perfect example of a lyrical war. Apart from the awe-inspiring display of technicality, they also went all out with their delivery and stage presence. In the end, it doesn’t matter who won because both rappers did really well.

9. BLKD vs. Shernan

   It’s another style clash that made Isabuhay much more exhilarating. Shernan and BLKD’s second round showdown in 2015 is the type of battle where it all comes down to personal taste. Some preferred Shernan’s witty and creative jokes while some rooted for BLKD’s complex pen game. Regardless of the judges’ decision, there’s no doubt that these emcees gave an unforgettable performance.

8. Shehyee vs. Lhipkram

   You know it’s a classic battle when fans continuously debate about the result. Shehyee and Lhipkram’s first round bout in 2018 is a wonderful combination of heavy bars and effective jokes. Apart from the impressive lyricism, the participants also showcased their impeccable delivery. Both emcees were so good here, it could go either way. 

7. Sixth Threat vs. Rudic

   This first round match between Sixth Threat and Rudic is undoubtedly a battle of the year contender. Sixth Threat’s technicality and jokes are better than ever, and it’s clear in his delivery that he’s more confident now. Rudic may have lost, but he still gained the respect of fans and fellow emcees thanks to his flawless lyricism and aggressive stage presence.  The 4-3 judging is proof that this was a close fight.

6. Sayadd vs. Lanzeta

   It was a dream match come true for real battle rap fans. Sayadd and Lanzeta’s first round encounter at the 2019 tournament was unpredictable, exciting, and menacing all throughout. They delivered their best and most complex verses, and their aggression was through the roof. Many are already considering this to be the match of the year.

5. Shehyee vs. Pistolero (2015)

   It wasn’t just one of the best battles that year. It was also one of the most heated. The Shehyee vs. Pistolero match in 2015 will always be remembered for its in-your-face angles as well as its awesome mix of clever writtens and freestyles. In short, both rappers elevated their overall performance. Like any other classic FlipTop duel, this one led to countless debates about the result.

4. Shehyee vs. Pistolero (2018)


   Shehyee and Pistolero squared off again in 2018, and this time it’s for the finals of the tournament. Once again, fans were treated to an enthralling display of written and off-the-top bars. They were also more creative with their angles, and their confidence was at an all-time high. It was not as heated as their previous encounter, but they still sent the fans home happy.

3. BLKD vs. Flict G

   BLKD and Flict-G’s semifinal clash at the 2013 Isabuhay deserves to be called a classic. BLKD showed a more complex style while Flict-G was effective with his in-your-face approach. From the exchange of heavy bars to the flawless delivery, there were absolutely no dull moments here. This is the type of match that you will appreciate even more upon second viewing.  

2. Mhot vs. Sur Henyo

   The 2017 Isabuhay ended on a high note. Mhot and Sur Henyo faced off in the finals and gave the fans a hard-hitting battle from start to finish. There were plenty of clever bars and jokes, all of which were delivered perfectly. It was at this moment where the two emcees solidified their status as heavyweights in FlipTop.

1. Loonie vs. Tipsy D

   Two of the dopest and most popular battlers in FlipTop squared off in the semifinals of the 2016 tournament. From his well-constructed angles to his effective punches, Loonie was simply untouchable in this match battle. It was also his most aggressive performance to date. Tipsy D didn’t get bodybagged though. His pen game remained top-notch, and he didn’t show any sign of nervousness at all. Many agree that this is the best battle of 2016.

   If you don’t agree with some or all of the entries, feel free to share your own list in the comments section.  The next FlipTop event will be “Mindfields”. It will take place at 12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub in Ortigas with performances from Illustrado, OWFUCK, Tres Diablos, GSM, Scavengers, and N-P-A. We hope to see you all there! Make sure you follow the league’s official Facebook page for more updates. Peace!