Miracle- overcomes illness at AniMajor as Nigma beat Virtus.pro

Steven Rondina • June 10, 02:16

Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi was stricken with a sudden illness at the WePlay AniMajor, but that didn’t slow down Team Nigma’s momentum in the event.

In its playoffs debut, Team Nigma scored an impressive 2-0 victory against Virtus.pro. The victory puts Nigma in position for a top-six finish at the event and continues what has been a resurgence for the team after what had been a mediocre 2021.

The first game between Virtus.pro and Team Nigma seemed fairly even, but Nigma had a ticking timebomb in the form of Igor “iLTW” Filatov’s Spectre. In a situation that was all too familiar to casual Dota 2 players, Virtus.pro knew they were in store for late-game difficulty, but fell behind early anyway.

Though Nigma heavily out-scaled VP, the team didn’t just sit on that lead. Nigma pressed its lead and consistently landed devastating combinations with Axe’s Berserker’s Call and Invoker’s Cataclysm. That scored the team numerous team fight wins and allowed Spectre to come online, sealing up the opening victory without incident.

The second game was largely the same, with iLTW threatening late-game dominance with another Spectre pick. The key difference between games one and two is that the second one wasn’t really close at any point. 

Nigma took control early and took advantage of Virtus.pro’s slow-paced draft that was built around combinations of big ultimates with long cooldowns. Even when all of VP’s spells were online, the team wasn’t quite able to score the decisive team fight victories it needed to keep up with Nigma’s faster-paced approach. Team Nigma smelled blood and pressed the advantage to secure the 2-0 victory.

Nigma may qualify for TI10 despite Miracle-’s illness

Team Nigma may soon qualify for TI10 despite what has been an underwhelming 2021 to this point. The team had an unimpressive start to the Dota Pro Circuit, scraping by in league play while eating a last-place finish in the ONE Esports Singapore Major. That put Nigma into an awkward position when it came to qualifying for The International 2021, as it needed a grand finals run in the WePlay AniMajor to earn a direct invitation to the event.

That’s a tall order for any team, but Nigma looks positioned to pull it off. Nigma came in second place in both the wild card and group stage of the AniMajor, earning an upper bracket start. The team looked primed for a deep run in the playoffs, but things went awry in the opening moments of the playoffs broadcast.

WePlay casters announced that Nigma vs. Virtus.pro had been pushed back due to Miracle- being struck by a sudden illness. While there was some concern over a possible outbreak at the AniMajor, Miracle- was reportedly tested cleanly and was eventually diagnosed with probable food poisoning. 

He was still likely in poor health for the match with Virtus.pro, but still looked very strong on the server. If he can recover fully, the prospects for any squad facing Team Nigma appear dim.

Will Team Nigma be at TI10?

Team Nigma is not currently qualified for The International 2021, but it still has a chance of earning a direct invitation. In order to do so, Nigma will need to reach the grand finals of the AniMajor. Even if the team finishes in second place, it will earn the necessary points to qualify through the Dota Pro Circuit.

If Nigma fails to reach the grand finals at the AniMajor, it still has a chance to earn a spot in TI10 through the regional qualifiers. That will be a very tough challenge for Nigma however, as it would need to defeat a number of strong teams including OG, Team Liquid, Vikin.gg, and Tundra Esports.

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