Steven R. August 24, 2019
Team Secret have finally hit their stride.
Facing Vici Gaming in the lower bracket, the two-time major winners scored one of the most lopsided series wins of The International 2019 to this point. Though Vici Gaming was held up as one of the favorites to win the tournament, Secret steamrolled them for a 2-0 victory.
Secret took a page out of OG’s book in game one, putting carry player Michał "Nisha" Jankowski on Io. The move paid off in the early game, as he quickly farmed Helm of the Dominator and Aghanim’s Scepter while Secret amassed an early kill lead. When Nisha hit level 15 and got the Spirits damage talent, Secret instantly went into endgame mode.
Vici attempted a smoke gank to turn the tables, but it went awry and only added to Secret’s lead. From there, Secret set its sights on the bottom lane. Vici tried to repel the incoming push, but failed miserably and gave up even more kills. Secret pressed Vici's high ground, took a lane of barracks, and forced out the GG call in just 23 minutes.
Zhang "Paparazi” Chengjun’s Alchemist became the key point of contention for both teams in game two. Vici Gaming invested a great deal of effort into building him up, stacking camps and protecting him in lane. Secret countered by chasing him around the map and interfering with his jungling.
To say Secret won this battle would be an understatement.
Secret won all three lanes and were able to invade the jungle with impunity. Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg’s Omniknight was able to walk up and steal creeps right out from under Paparazi, whose Radiance timing fell further and further behind. This was further exacerbated when Secret scored a timely courier kill.
That allowed Nisha to move ahead of Paparazi on the net worth chart as Bristleback and gave Secret the go-ahead to start pushing Vici’s base. They sieged down two sets of barracks, and a timely double damage rune on Nisha allowed them to go for the third. Paparazi eventually got his Radiance, but by that point it was too little, too late.
Vici Gaming submitted rather than trying to fight their way out from under mega creeps, giving Secret the 2-0 win. The two games combined lasted just 45 minutes.
Team Secret return to top form at TI9
It was a stunningly quick and efficient win from Secret. While Clement “Puppey” Ivanov and company entered the tournament as one of the favorites to win, they haven’t looked the part of late.
They came in second in their group, but were easily dispatched by Evil Geniuses in their main event debut. They have navigated their way through the lower bracket, but didn’t look dominant in series against Mineski and Infamous.
On paper, Vici Gaming is the best team Secret has come across on the main stage and scoring a pair of quick wins bodes well for them going forward. They will face a stiff test in the next round as they take on Team Liquid for a spot in the lower bracket finals.