Steven R. June 3, 2019
Team Secret’s trophy mantel is quickly running out of space.
The organization won its sixth tournament this season, taking the top prize at ESL One Birmingham. Secret hoisted the trophy after a long run through the lower bracket and closed things out by besting Evil Geniuses 3-2 in the grand finals.
The different approaches the teams take to Dota 2 were immediately obvious in game one. Evil Geniuses focused all its efforts into building up Artour "Arteezy" Babaev and Syed “SumaiL” Hassan, while Secret spread the farm around to all of its players. This led to a massive early lead for Secret, but when when SumaiL and Arteezy were fully kitted things were tight once again. With both teams fully operational after the 50 minute mark, the game boiled down to which team would make a mistake, and that ultimately proved to be Evil Geniuses, allowing Secret to steal a team fight and knock down the ancient.
Evil Geniuses wasn’t shaken by that loss. The team took the same approach in game two but picked cores that made a more immediate impact, with SumaiL on Leshrac and Arteezy playing Sven. This paid off in a big way as the team battered Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng, found high ground early, and sieged down Secret’s entire base to even the score.
Though the first two games were won on smooth plays from either side, the third game was a matter of Clement “Puppey” Ivanov’s exceptional draft skills. Though EG went with a team built around constantly fighting and pushing, Secret drafted a lineup built around massive ultimates from Death Prophet, Enigma, and Sand King. Secret’s lineup allowed the players to comfortably set up each big spell, and some early gaffes from Evil Geniuses gave them the extra edge they needed to retake the series lead.
Secret’s play in game four was far less clean. Despite being a technically brilliant squad, some early stumbles by Secret gave EG a massive early kill lead, with Arteezy reaping the rewards in the form of an early Radiance on Spectre. There was no way for Secret to come back from something like that, allowing Evil Geniuses to force game five with a 30-minute win.
The deciding showdown was an exceptional performance by Secret. Playing with a lineup built around spell combinations, the European squad showed off how practiced and comfortable they are together. Dark Seer Vacuums were chained into Nyx Assassin stuns, which were finished off with Monkey King Boundless Strikes. Any time Evil Geniuses would feel good about an initiation, a Song of the Siren from Michał "Nisha" Jankowski was there to stop things, with a Surge following to ensure a safe escape for everyone on Secret. It was a master class from Secret and it let them seal the series up 3-2.
The victory is the latest bit of proof that Secret is the clear best Dota 2 team in the world right now. Since the start of the season Secret has won six live tournaments including two majors, and it is yet to place lower than fourth in any event during that stretch.
As for Evil Geniuses, it’s a tough blow for the team. While the boys in blue are the definitive best team in North America, they don’t yet have any trophies to prove it this season. Things were looking positive for the team after it bested PSG.LGD to break its third-place curse, but only served to extend another unfortunate streak for the team as it has now come in second at four different ESL One tournaments.