Upper Bracket Finals: Game 3 of VP vs. Secret

In the CQ Major upper bracket final we saw the history repeat itself. Just like in the last major, VP and Secret meet to duke it out one step before the grand final. Finally Solo got the rest he needed and came back to captain his team for this tough series. At the moment these two teams are considered the best in the world, consistency and results wise. Let’s see who came out on top of the game 3 decider.


First series of bans:

  1. Secret ban Tusk

At this point, it’s unnecessary to talk about meta picks anymore. Everyone knows what the trends are, and by the same merit, what heroes are going to get nerfed 🙂 . In the 1st game of this series Secret gave away Tusk to VP, and RodjER really made their life hard. Since they didn’t want the hero for themselves they banned it.

  1. Virtus.pro ban Tiny

What Tusk did for Secret, it was the other way around for Tiny. VP had headaches from Tiny’s toss disrupting their game early.

  1. Secret ban Magnus

In the 2nd game of the series Magnus enabled AM so much. Again probably traumatized from the last game where support Mag enabled AM’s recovery and had a few great RP’s late in the game. Support Magnus is even more viable than before, since the rework of Shockwave in 7.20 it where they added Pull and Slow to the ability. I get this ban, but Secret dealt with him the last game easy. The loss from the 2nd game lies more on the last pick Huskar and/or their mistakes vs. VP’s phenomenal counter initiations.

  1. Virtus.pro ban Earth Spirit

Highly contested pick with the highest Win-rate among heroes picked more than 10 times! Since Secret had 1st pick, you didn’t want this hero to go through.

  1. Secret ban Beastmaster

Next to ES the only hero that didn’t get out of the 1st ban phase once. Both teams value this hero very much, and for the good reasons. Free vision, flexible laning, can go jungle, BKB piercing ult… the list goes on and on.

  1. Virtus.pro ban Elder Titan

Third time these series that the IO goes trough, and all three times Secret had the first pick. VP reaffirmed their stance towards Wips: “We can deal with it!”. I really love them for this and can only give them praise. With regard to ET ban, I won’t comment it. I know  they lost the 1st game vs. that hero but again I am 100% sure ET wasn’t crucial in that loss. It’s getting boring restating the same narrative over and over…

First series of picks:

  1. Secret pick Grimstroke

That this is the peak Dota performance we are witnessing, testaments that both teams are ready to play against IO. This hero has been banned walloping 75 times in the CQ Major. When you are planning to let Wisp trough, like it or not, you will have to open with the “just in case” pick. So Grimstroke as the opening pick is considered by Secret to be a good start. I can agree with that statement, but countering potential Wisp is far more than one pick. Nonetheless having Soulbind and the good spell AOE in Stroke of Fate is a good start.

  1. Virtus.pro pick IO

Unlike the previous game, this time VP took the bait and got the infamous hero for themselves. Wisp is “The” enabler pick in the whole of Dota world. He gives mana regeneration, health regeneration, attack speed, damage reduction and many more potential buffs to the hero he is Tethered to. One of those potential buffs is a free Aghanim’s scepter on lvl. 15. to anyone IO finds suitable at the given moment.  Also in terms of the movement, Relocate gives a new dimension to the team IO is on.

  1. Virtus.pro pick Luna

Gyro+Io are the usual suspects in terms of combos, but this time VP went the other route and paired Wips with Luna. Braking from fixed patterns is always a good thing in my book, thinking out of the box is one of the things that differentiate the good from the best. In the last patch Lunar Blessing got reworked, and now instead of attack damage bonus aura and night vision buff, it gives primary attribute bonus aura. This is a noticeable buff for the hero, since now your aura is beneficial to all heroes on the team, not just the damage dealers. Pair that with Wisp who is a strength hero and he suddenly gives you more HP regen while also being tankier himself.

  1. Secret pick Medusa

Nisha being on a comfort pick is a good start. Medusa has the tools to deal with multiple targets at the later portions of the game and is a pretty reliable carry in this meta. I’m fine with this pick since Secret is sure about one core being Luna for VP. So the fear of them having to deal with another greedy core such as AM who counters Medusa was pretty low.

Second series of bans:

  1. Secret ban Drow Ranger

RAMZeS pick being locked, Secret focused the rest of their bans on the middle heroes that No[o]ne would want to play. I have many assumption about a Drow ban, but we can’t know for sure. Drow wasn’t picked much throughout the tournament but she is not bad, just a bit of a forgotten pick. I don’t know enough about the middle matchup Dusa vs. Drow to theorize about it. Or maybe was Secret trying to prevent “aura” strat from VP, and stop the early aggression while Medusa comes online. Be that as it may, Secret took the Drow out.

  1. Virtus.pro ban Lich

Sneaky bastard got so far without being banned and now VP sends him back to his number two spot of the most banned/picked heroes list. Expected neutral ban.

  1. Secret ban Invoker

Invoker is a signature No[o]ne hero. He is another hero no one focused on because of his slow paced early game. EMP is one of the spells Medusa doesn’t like to play against. Also, Invo’s global presence is felt through Sun Strike, with it he can help Relocate ganks. After Drow this is another unconventional ban by Secret. I can’t like it but I can’t dislike it either, it feels blindfolded, but who knows – maybe there was a good team plan behind it that I don’t see.

  1. Virtus.pro ban Juggernaut

RAMZeS himself used Jugg to defeat LGD’s IO+Gyro combo, so taking a page from their own book for this ban. Bursting an IO is one of the approaches the team can take in dealing with it.

Second series of picks:

  1. Virtus.pro pick Sven

Solo likes his Sven, even before 7.20 VP runs a successful Sven all the time. It helps to know you have two viable positions to play him at, the position 5 or the position 3. Warcry mitigates all the damage Medusa can dish in the early game, and a considerable amounts of dmg she outputs late.

  1. Secret pick Rubick

Yes, currently you have the best Rubick player in the world, but that doesn’t mean picking his hero without consideration of the enemy’s picks. It sound like I’m bashing Puppey, but I’m just confused. The opposing team has already picked three heroes. Out of those three: 1) Rubick can’t steal anything impactful from Wisp, as a good player will always have Overcharge as his last spell; 2) If Secret watched RAMZeS play Luna against TNC, they’ll know he maxes 2nd and 3rd spell first and than he maxes the Lucent Beams and Eclipse. So he would have to wait quite a while until he gets a chance to steal a good spell from her; 3) Sven is the only good hero to steal the spells from, but again, nothing too impactful. So as good of a player YapzOr is and as good of a hero Rubick is in the 7.20, to feel the impact of this hero you need a fruitful ground for, above all, good ultimates to steal. Next to Grimstroke adding another squishy hero without purpose feels underwhelming.

  1. Virtus.pro pick Brewmaster

Genius pick. It took me a while, I must say, to wrap my mind around it, but I finally did. With this hero VP got advantage on all levels of analysis. Some teams picked Visage to counter Grimstroke’s ultimate and Brew serves the same purpose. Soulbind gets attached to Brewlings and effectively neutralized Grim’s ult, so now Secret lost one form of control for Io+Luna combo. His Brewlings also provide great team-fight control as he can get Medusa out of the fight with Cyclone all the time, and effectively forces her to get BKB at some point. There is the deny-pick aspect as well, Brew’s has Dispel Magic which was often used throughout the tournament to counter Sven’s Warcry. And this isn’t all, guess what, it’s almost impossible for Rubick to steal his ultimate since Drunken Brawler got reworked and is now an active spell that can be insta-casted after panda’s ult expires. Imagine after all the torment Rubick steals Luna’s ultimate, with level 4. Lucent Beams and uses it on a team that has 3 Brewlings in it, willing to share the damage with their team… In so many ways a nice pick.

  1. Secret pick Slark

Even at this point I think Secret’s draft was salvageable, but after Slark pick I was sure it was pretty much over. I mean, at this level even with a big draft disadvantage any team can turn it around somehow and win, but that would need to include a lot of luck. Secrets reason behind this banning this pick could be from the first game of these series. Secret used Slark successfully to counter Medusa middle, since his Essence Shift steal is very effective against her Mana Shield. In a way Secret was, I think, deny picking Slark. There is a thought where Essence Shift could be also useful against Luna since she likes her stats, but picking Slark with two squishy supports and no one to play around won’t guarantee you survivability. Slark needs frontlines and the heroes who can prolong the fights. Secret had none of those.

One more thing Secret needed to address more was Io. Since the Brew pick, Secret was left without coping mechanisms for Io+Luna combo.

I would have liked too see Kunkka instead of Slark for this pick. Kunkka is notorious for dealing well with the Io, especially in the early game. He is also flexible laning and matchup wise, plus he doesn’t care about Brew’s Split as he is pretty tanky. Ghostship’s Rum buff is good for neutralizing Luna’s ult. And for the concern of VP picking Slark themselves, ladies and gentlemen, Kunkka is “The” Slark counter. His X Marks the Spot isn’t dispellable and all of his spells are ground targeted, Slark would be forced to build BKB and by then Secret would be firmly in the lead.

Last two bans:

  1. Virtus.pro ban Centaur Warrunner

It was obvious Secret lacked an offlaner. Cent was often ran successfully with Grimstroke as they have good synergy. With Stampede and tankiness Cent could have been a good frontliner that Slark was missing. Well timed ultimate and Secret could dodge Relocate ganks and all kinds of initiations from VP’s side.

  1. Secret ban Outworld Devourer

In every sense it’s justified to ban the highest win-rate mid-laner at the moment. Medusa would also suffer immensely from Arcane Orb attacks and Sanity’s Eclipse which both drain crazy amounts of mana. Since we know the next pick for Secret was Underlord, it’s safe to conclude OD ban was enabling him too.

Last two picks:

  1. Secret pick Underlord

Personal note, this hero is shit. I said Elder Titan is overrated but Underlord doesn’t even come near to the usefulness that ET can (in the rare moments) give to his team. If Slark pick was a nail in the coffin, Underlord was a stake in vampire’s heart so he has no chance of resurrecting again. Out of the all offlaners left, Underlord has the appeal of Atrophy Aura that would significantly lower the attack damage of Luna. Since she likes stats, Atrophy Aura is very effective against her. One would think his other spells would provide team fight and team control against Io, but no. Middle to late game heroes get a lot of mobility that’s hard to put useful Firestorm or Pit of Malice. Luna also has a good amount of the magic damage that can be buffed by Io’s level 15. talent, and Underlord is pretty susceptible to spells. So not only is the Underlord a sluggish, tanky hero that has qualities in the lane only, but he also doesn’t deal with what Io bring to the table game-play wise.

I would have preferred to see some other hero picked instead, for Secret. I like Bristleback or Dark Seer much better.

  1. Virtus.pro pick Monkey King

Underlord is susceptible to any kind of “orb” attacks that penetrate his tanky image. Some of them being Ursa’s Swipes, Monkey King’s Jingu Mastery, Enchantress’ pure damage Impetus, OD’s Arcane Orb etc… You get the picture. It turns out MK also fairs well against Medusa middle and he has a natural Diffusal Blade build-up.


After the draft we got a clear winner and it was Virtus.pro. Since VP is well-coordinated team, they knew what their timing was. Choke the game out before the late game. Once more I suggest you watch the full highlights since the whole series was top notch!

Virtus.pro 2 : 1 Secret