Grand Finals: Game 4 of VP vs. Secret

History repeated itself and we got a reprisal of the Kuala Lumpur major. The only difference being that Secret went through lower bracket this time around. Solo vs. Puppey matches are always a festivity for the true Dota fans. Unfortunately the finals were a bit lopsided in Secret’s favor, it seemed like VP didn’t bring their A game. It seems that drafting wise Secret had an advantage all four games of the finals. Let’s breakdown the final game of the series that secured Secret the championship.

Draft

First series of bans:

  1. Secret ban Lich

Officially, after this final, Lich tied with Wisp on the top of the most picked/banned heroes list of the CQ major! Except for the usual lane empowering reasons for the ban, Secret had one more. They had the first pick and Lich is also one of the few supports that actually deals with the Wisp combo’s well at all stages of the game.

  1. Virtus.pro ban Elder Titan

I refuse to go into detail for this ban anymore. As good of a player YapzOr is on this hero, it’s highly uncommon for VP to be so rigid about banning the same hero every game. Especially when this hero has a sub 50% win-rate throughout the tournament.

  1. Secret ban Magnus

Even though Secret showed they can deal with it in a way, I can see how much banning this hero simplifies the draft. Mag is one of those heroes (like Wisp) that can turn mediocre heroes into good ones and good ones into great ones. Low-key Secret removes another hero that’s good against Wisp…

  1. Virtus.pro ban Tiny

I can’t say anything about the hero that I haven’t already said.

  1. Secret ban Earth Spirit

In the 3rd game RodjER proved he can make a midlaner’s life miserable. This guy is so on point with his rotations that they almost always get VP a kill. Good all-around 4 position support and yet another Wisp controller.

  1. Virtus.pro ban Terrorblade

I wouldn’t dare too say this was a wasted ban but it feels like one. I consider Solo to be one of the top three captains in the western world at the moment, so there has to be a reasoning for this ban. For me it’s confusing since Secret has only ONE game on the hero and it was when VP manhandled them in the upper bracket finals game 2. Also I wouldn’t consider Terrorblade pick in the first phase unmanageable and even Secret proved it in their last series against EG.

First series of picks:

  1. Secret pick IO

Unlike the last time these two teams met, Secret was actually ready to take Wisp first pick if there was an opportunity.

  1. Virtus.pro pick Juggernaut

VP already used Jugg against Wisp effectively once. A reason more to pick Jugger, that casters also mentioned, is that he deals well with all the strength melee meta-offlaners currently being picked at the tournament. One Blade Fury + support control will at least result in zoning the enemy out of the lane.

  1. Virtus.pro pick Sven

VP classic that they used numerous times this tournament. He is a strong laner and in a way a deny-pick since VP have Jugg.

  1. Secret pick Outworld Devourer

This was a pivotal pick for Secret’s lineup. They took a page from EG’s play book for this one. OD’s win-rate speaks for itself but I was really confused that Secret was able to take him in every first pick phase of this series when he was available. After his skills got reworked he suddenly has a lot more favorable match-ups than before.

Second series of bans:

  1. Secret ban Pugna

Secret from now on focused their bans on securing MidOne’s matchup middle. VP’s answer to OD for two games straight was to pick Pugna. He is very good vs. intelligence heroes, and OD’s Orb procs Nether Ward.

  1. Virtus.pro ban Luna

What a scary game you got if you let Luna pair with the heroes who benefit immensely from their main attribute. VP themselves run Luna+IO combo, and Secret showed us that they can even play 4 position Luna. So the mere thought of IO, Luna, plus a tri-lane core/support early is scary as fuck, yet alone when you increase OD’s int for the team fights.

  1. Secret ban Tinker

Another one of those heroes considered to counter OD in lane. Laser “miss” debuff is lane-loosing for OD.

  1. Virtus.pro ban Centaur Warrunner

The king of the offlane with 59% win-rate is for some a reason enough to ban the hero. Since they needed an offlaner and Stampede is a good tool for dealing with Wisp, I would have preferred to maybe see this hero in VP’s lineup more than on the ban list. He can help with the relocate ganks globally and has a huge burst potential against squish heroes such as Io. FUN FACT: Virtus.pro played Centaur ZERO times the whole CQ major.

Second series of picks:

  1. Virtus.pro pick Grimstroke

This was maybe one more reason behind Centaur ban, since his ult counters Soulbind too. And they wanted to prioritize Grim pick while it was still in the pool. I think this was another bad decision on VP’s part. Firstly, I don’t think there was a danger of Grim being picked or banned by the other side. Secondly, Grimstroke isn’t in any way a reliable counter to IO, he doesn’t even come close. I would argue that Cent represents a bigger threat to Wisp’s combo than Grimstroke. I praised Grimstroke before and I still think he is a good hero that needs to be nerfed, but I think his domain is the 5 position support. At this point VP already had Solo’s Sven locked so seeing RodjER on a not-so-active support that really doesn’t build any flashy items was a letdown.

  1. Secret pick Bane

Busting out a hero in the grand finals, that was picked only a handful of times thought the tournament, has Puppey written all over it. Many spectators, teams, players and even coaches often get locked into the patterns. All my draft breakdowns have the same flaw too, I am certain of it. That’s why I love to see a good outdraft, a pick that turns the tables, that catches me by a surprise, thinking out of the box in the best way possible.

Bane brings a lot to the table for Secret. He is considered to be a very strong laner that has good starting stats and effective skills for the lower levels. Nightmare is a skill based out of jail free card and in the laning phase can be very effective against Grim’s Ink Swell. Fiend’s Grip pierces spell immunity so Secret just got a way to control Jugger’s Blade Fury.

The last point I want to make about Bane has less to do with Bane and more with how Puppey used him in the early game. I remember a long time ago when the Wisp combo was reserved for the middle lane only. Teams didn’t know how to deal with it if they didn’t have a good hero like Bristleback to tank the agression up, so they just banned IO all the time. But the really good teams found a simple solution, you are allowed to put two heroes in the middle lane too. So then, instead of looking at the middle match-up as a X hero beats Y hero, you had to take a lot more into consideration.

Time passed and players got back to the same old patterns of letting middle heroes duke it out themselves, with the addition of occasional ganks from the side-lanes. And now we had a prime example of a hero that empowered the middle lane a lot and it was Bane. Not only did Secret focus their bans on securing OD’s early game, they even put additional hero to baby-sit him through it. These small changes can have a big impact on how the rest of the game pans out.

  1. Virtus.pro pick Doom

It was a simple plan, Grimstroke Soul Bind’s two heroes together and Doom Doom’s them together. Doom also fits the aura carrier role offlaners often see in this new “armor” meta. VP really like the hero a lot, and I can understand that they wanted the stability in the lane that he provided. But yet again, I mentioned that Soul Bind isn’t a reliable spell to counter the Wisp combo. I don’t know if VP forgot this but Wisp also counters Doom since he can provide 20% damage reduction and heals to any hero that has been Doomed. In the worst case scenario, Io can Relocate out Doom’s target, which we later saw happen in the game.

I would have rather liked to see VP pick something like Dark Seer for the offlane, since he would give them one more tool to deal with Wisp.

  1. Secret pick Phantom Assassin

What goes around, comes around, PA was one of the most picked heroes in the beginning of the 7.20 and now she’s here to seal it. Secret not giving IO his usual customers like Gyro or CK was wonderful to see. Unconventional partner for Wisp since she has no mana issues and has no Aghs benefits, but a good carry. Doom has -1 starting armor and we saw Nisha’s PA crit for huge amounts. One small skill change in the 7.20 – Blur having an active component – and suddenly PA can solo dodge Jugg’s Omnislash with the press of a button.

Last two bans:

  1. Virtus.pro ban Beastmaster

Out of the popular offlaners left in the pool. Secret already took it once vs. Jugg and it proved good. Tbh I was sure VP are going to ban Brewmaster here but I guess they thought they would counter him in the lane hard, so Secret wouldn’t pick it.

  1. Secret ban Drow Ranger

Continuation of banning the anti-OD heroes. Why Drow in particular and not Huskar I am not sure and can only speculate. Maybe they wanted to remove a hero who in the worst-case scenario of losing the lane could go jungle after level 6 to recover.

Last two picks:

  1. Secret pick Puck

There were multiple reasons why I was 100% convinced Secret are taking Brewmaster here. Not only is it effective vs. Soulbind and Brew’s Storm panda can dispel Sven’s Warcry, but it also gives more units to tank-up Jugg’s ult also. Laning wise they could have tried to dodge lanes and give Brew 1 on 1 vs. Doom so he can get experience at least.

But there is a reason why I’m here and they are there, at the top of the Dota world. Zai, with his MVP performance, played Puck out of his mind and provided so much control it was unbelievable. This pick provided Secret with so much flexibility that after the draft phase Secret’s lanes were open to any lane swapping if need be. Truly remarkable drafting.

VP’s side didn’t have a reliable catch for Puck since Phase Shift was effective against all their control spell expect Doom. And we all know that one way to counter Doom is to give him multiple Doom targets so he can’t single out one.

  1. Virtus.pro pick Death Prophet

Only 4 times was DP picked this tournament, two out of those, has happened on the final day. Once in the lower bracket finals and once in the grand finals. In a way, both times Secret forced it as the last pick from their opponents. Silence does wonders vs. many heroes Secret had, it provides the control for Puck and spell cancel for Relocate. But Io is more than a one spell wonder and Puck has a natural itemization into Eul’s from the get-go.

DP should have a fine lane against OD but against OD and Bane it becomes impossible. Even when Grimstroke mirrored Bane’s movement to the middle, he couldn’t tip the scales. Unfortunately DP also doesn’t have a mechanism to get back into the game once she falls behind. VP has had their back against the wall but I would have liked it more if they showed a little more courage and went with something more risky like Templar Assassin.

Gameplay

Just as YapzOr predicted, Secret got to the grand finals to face off with VP once more. And boy were they ready for the challenge ahead. The whole series resembled the TI4 finals, Toby said, and the game 4 was on the same pace. No heroes to deal with IO and VP making uncharacteristic mistakes also didn’t help. Тоо reliant on Soul bind + Doom combo, out drafted and out maneuvered VP fell to Secret in just 30 minutes.

Two situations were the most important this game:

1) This situation proves that VP were on a timer. They had the aegis so they pushed for the rax. It was a clear mistake the moment I saw this on the stream. Secret got two tier 3 towers while dodging the fight top and then got back on time for the high ground defense. And even though Juggernaut had the Aegis, Secret had buy-backs on four out of five heroes. All this led to:

2) IO relocate saves Nisha from Omnislash since he was silenced.

Virtus.pro 1 : 3 Secret

Secret are your CQ Major champions!