The Dota 2 pro circuit is starting to shake out, and over the course of the year thus far, one team has stood out in particular. With a huge win in Sweden yesterday, Team Secret is cementing its place as the team to beat going into 2018.
It isn't just the points tally that sets Secret apart. Though the team currently boasts the most points in the circuit, it's the wins Secret has chalked up, and the manner in which it has won, that make them such a daunting opponent. Yesterday, in the grand finals of the Dream League Major, Team Secret faced the 2017 International champions Team Liquid, who have avoided the post-TI slump that has claimed some victors in the past.
Starting in game 1, a pace was set with a Lone Druid drafted for Liquid's Lasse "Matumbaman" Urpalainen. The bear has become truly fearsome in the current patch, but it was Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng's Kunkka that became the story of the game.
In a gruelling 70+ minute match, Zheng made the bold choice to pick up a Divine Rapier.
Often considered a Hail Mary of an item choice, a Rapier gives the holder a huge damage increase, but drops when its bearer dies, free for anyone to pick up. On any other hero, a dangerous prospect, but the pirate captain Kunkka is a slippery hero, able to deal his damage in an area thanks to his blade's Tidebringer splash.
In a crucial teamfight, Zheng had his Rapier delivered and hung back, slapping one target but splashing it out over a zone, destroying the weaker members of Team Liquid.
Up one game, Secret secured the Lone Druid for themselves in game 2 and showed how terrifying it really could be. The bear, empowered with a wealth of items, could simply jog up to buildings and tear them apart by itself, sometimes even through the game's built-in backdoor protection.
Throughout all the games, Adrian "Fata" Trinks shone, especially on his Tidehunter in game 2. A giant leviathan of the sea, Tidehunter is extremely hard to take down, and his Ravage ultimate can send the entire enemy team into the air.
By controlling the map and especially the Roshan pit, Trinks picked up Refresher shards, which combined with his Refresher Orb, meant he always had a few Ravages in the chamber. If one whiffed or the other team all popped their magic immunity in time, it didn't matter - Trinks could still threaten them with one, maybe two more.
By game 3, the result felt inevitable. Though the first two games both went over an hour long each, game 3 was half the length, as Team Secret shredded Liquid's hopes of a rally. Trinks standing outside adjacent to the enemy team's ancient, taunting them by casting and cancelling his pit over and over, really sums up the mood by the end.
With a 3-0 win over Team Liquid, Secret secured their place atop the pro circuit standings and established themselves as the new top dog in Dota town. Showcasing captain Clement "Puppey" Ivanov's impeccable drafting ability and then summarily executing on his drafts in every role, this team will be a major force in the coming year.
As we roll further into more majors, all eyes will be on Secret.