Group Stage: Game 1 of Secret vs. Forward Gaming

We can see that the 7.20  patch has settled. Meta trends were visible during The Bucharest Minor and now we can see they carried over to the major. Only two groups have had their matches played yesterday and we already have mostly the same heroes on top of the Most Picked/Banned hero charts as we did for the minor. 11 out of 13 top picked/banned heroes are the same! From that list, the most notable difference is Grimstroke, he is valued much higher on the major at the moment.

Courtesy of


First series of bans:

  1. Secret ban Sven

Since the change of Sven’s Warcry, this hero found his new place as a support. In the early game Warcry mitigates most of the attack damage your team should otherwise be scared of. Sven can also give teams an open draft since it can easily be played as a carry too.

  1. FG ban Dazzle

The new patch made armor even more important, therefore negative armor too. Dazzle’s new ultimate Bad Juju is making this hero a high value target. Hero is so good, Liquid picked it often as a core for Matumbaman to take it to the middle lane. So it’s understandable to make banning this hero a priority.

  1. Secret ban Tusk

Another hero that had his skill reworked got banned. Tag Team replaced Frozen Sigil in 7.20 and boy it is a good ability. For just 40 mana and 15 seconds cooldown, you can spam this ability like there’s no tomorrow. Paired with a good partner in lane, Tusk can dominate a lot of matchups and give drafting headaches.

  1. FG ban IO

Wisp is an ubiquitous ban in the Dota world. Are you playing against a team that has a good IO player? Does the enemy have the first pick? If answer to both of these questions is ‘Yes’, then you should ban IO in professional games. Personally I don’t like this trend but as far as I remember, only the best among the best dared to play against Wisp (and still do). But even they ban it from time to time, depending on the team they are facing.

  1. Secret ban Undying

I can only assume Secret had their opening in mind when they banned Dirge. The hero famous for his laning could be pesky against Anti-Mage + Lich lane, but I am not sure about it…

  1. FG ban Earth Spirit

As much as this hero got nerfed and tweaked, it is still effective in the hands of the right player. ES proved to be timeless yet another patch. It doesn’t help that Secret YapzOr is one of the very best on the hero.

First series of picks:

  1. Secret pick Lich

Lich Dota – armor Dota. Heroes literally only want one thing from this hero and it’s his Frost Shield. Another hero probably looking to get nerfed the next patch. But until then, he will keep shielding away heroes and towers, and occasionally help his team with yet another interrupt in Sinister Gaze.

  1. FG pick Grimstroke

Grim got balanced out a few times during this patch but is still a great laner. Valve was adamant to nerf Ink Swell but I always thought this heroe’s strengths were in his other skills, especially his BKB piercing ult.

  1. FG pick Tiny

Forward Gaming love their Tiny. They have already won two games against Thunder Predator and probably feel comfortable on the hero. An all around good pick, like Wisp or Earth Spirit, Tiny refuses to get out of trend. His ability to go to any lane, and to be played on any position makes him a great opening pick.

  1. Secret pick Anti-Mage

Straight to the carry, no messing around. Anti-Mage is in a way preventing Medusa pickup for FD. I think this was a ballsy second pick, that Secret wouldn’t consider if they were against a stronger opponent.

Second series of bans:

  1. Secret ban Phantom Assassin

Prior to the minor PA was “The” pick. Every team prioritized her when they had a first pick and now it seams she has fallen off a bit. Since Secret already reveled their carry hero, banning PA was ensuring AM’s late game. PA is strong physical damage carry that likes to build Desolator and she has natural evasion. All of these things combined are a nightmare to deal with for AM.

  1. FG ban Elder Titan

This was a guess ban from FG. Secret just played the series against PSG.LGD and lost, but in it they picked ET. FG probably didn’t want to have this hero interfere with their draft plan. I can’t say I totally agree with this decision but in reality they probably didn’t know what else to ban at that point. I did point out the importance of armor in this patch and ET has Natural Order which at level 4 removes 100% of base armor. Be that as it may, the problem with the hero is that he needs the levels. And this major he is excusably played as support, so it’s hard to get any level unless you win your lane – convincingly!

  1. Secret ban Terrorblade

Resolut1on is extremely comfortable on this hero. Banning the enemies comfort picks is never a bad idea. Also Secret could have been baiting Medusa ban from FG, since they already have AM and now they removed Terrorblade also.

  1. FG ban Kunkka

Bracer, Wraith Band and Null Talisman got major changes in 7:20. They don’t build into anything anymore and are a pure early game items now. The players are still figuring out these changes. But one thing is certain, the heroes that benefited from stacking these items before the patch changes, sure as hell benefit from them now, a lot more. The Admiral is one of those heroes that like to have up to 4 Braces in his inventory. Cost effective and deadly, him trending is not a surprise. Other than that, MidOne being arguably the best Kunkka in the world is reason enough for this ban.

Second series of picks:

  1. FG pick Centaur Warrunner

FG decided to fall back on their comfort pick for this one. In the last few months, Cent is by far Universes most picked hero so they took it once more. Cent isn’t particularly good in this situation though. His Hoof Stomp and Double Edge are both magic damage against AM’s Counterspell, and Double Edge has slow animation so it can be easily reflected too. We should always have in mind that a comfort pick can go a long way if in the right hands.

  1. Secret pick Rubick

Secret responded with their own comfort pick, and put YapzOr on his signature Rubick. Rubick already had a lot of targets to steal from. All of Grimstrokes abilities are even better suited for Rubick since he has Arcane Supremacy. Out of the ultimates, his best bet was stealing Centaur’s. It would turn out there was a lot more to steal after the draft was over…

  1. FG pick Juggernaut

Most of Reso’s favorite carries were banned so FG took Jugg. His Omnislash got reworked, so now it scales a lot better late game than it used to. Since 7.20, Jugg have been very popular among the carry picks.

  1. Secret pick Beastmaster

As I already mentioned, armor changes made armor even more relevant than it used to be. But the patch also brought us the removal of Ring of Aquila. All this made Vladmir’s offering a must have item for any team. With BM, Secret secured their Vladmir’s carrier. This hero underwent a lot of changes this patch. His pick/ban rate skyrocketed, mostly because of the new Call of the Wild. His boar on level 4 slows more than the 5500 gold Eye of Skadi! One more dimension that BM brings to the table is that he can have up to three summons around him at the same time, tanking up potential Omnislash bounces.

Last two bans:

  1. FG ban Outworld Devourer

Very confusing ban, since OD wouldn’t have been bad on FD’s side as a last pick maybe. I don’t see Secret picking OD this game, and there was clearly a threat of Secret picking Medusa for the middle lane.

  1. Secret ban Huskar

Classic cheese ban from Secret, because no one wants to pick their middle hero and watch it get countered with Huskar last pick.

Last two picks:

  1. Secret pick Visage

Beautiful pick! Visage deals good against most heroes in the middle lane and has a good synergy with Beastmaster’s aura. This hero was already used by Secret as sort of a counter for Grimstroke during qualifiers. Visage Familiars are considered to be hero units, so they almost always tank up Soulbind. Juggs ult also bounces to the birds, taking away damage intended for heroes. I want to note that Medusa wrecks Visage middle but I understand that AM pick hard counters her Mana Shield. One more thing to point out in Secret’s draft is flexibility, Visage can go to any lane in theory if need be.

  1. FG pick Tidehunter

Tide is probably the best pick FG could have come up with. He can withstand Visage on the middle lane. He can carry Vladmir’s offering, and other armor items. And he has Gush to apply a much needed minus armor on Anti-Mage. A big problem of his was that Ravage was bound to get stolen by a good Rubick player every time.


Teams had even-ish drafts with a slight advantage going Secret’s ways. Secret had two passive supports and they needed to survive the early game. The good thing for them was that Beastmaster and especially Visage have big power spikes in the mid game. FG were on a timer versus AM and tried to five man as soon as possible to pressure Secret’s towers and establish the map control. Risk with having this kind of a game plan against Secret’s lineup is that one bad move can cost you the barracks or even the game. Visage Familiars paired with Beastmaster’s Inner Beast shred trough the buildings.

Two plays stand out this game:

First one was almost game losing for Secret, when Nisha (top net worth at the time) and YapzOr tried to make plays around the Roshan but failed miserably. Resulting in both of them dying and FG almost getting the Aegis.

Luckily for them, MidOne with GOD-like play saved the day by managing to deny the Aegis with Familiar! This sequence then led into the fight in which Secret team wiped  FG. And from this point on it was an easy closure for Secret.

Secret 1 : 0 FG