The new year started with the different Captains Draft 4.0 as the first Minor event. The captains Draft 4.0 is the only tournament which has a non-traditional hero veto system. The event is organised by Moonduck and DotaCinema, with a very casual approach to the casting and the entire stream. However, It is still a Dota 2 Minor with 300 Dota2 Pro Circuit Points to offer. Team Secret start 2018 with a victory on their first Minor.
The year 2017 ended with Team secret leading the scoreboard with 3960 points. These points were accumulated due to their outstanding performance in the last two majors of 2017. They fell short of winning the title at ESL One Hamburg 2017, but they were able to claim the trophy at ROG Dreamleague Season 8. These two tournaments account for the bulk of their Dota Pro Circuit points helping them win a total of 1200 points across the two Majors. They also secured a third / fourth place finish at the Starladder I League Season 3 which helped them earn 30 more points. The high placements at both the Majors definitely propelled them to become the Number One ranked team in the Pro Circuit points leaderboards.
Captains Draft 4.0 is the first minor of 2018 and has 300 Dota Pro Circuit points on offer. The tournament has a different draft phase than the regular tournaments. With a fixed hero pool being offered in the drafting phase, we see the random element coming into play in most of the matches. A team with a wide variety of playable heroes in their kitty has a huge advantage coming into a Captains Draft Match. A flexible team with different tactics and being able to execute them out of their comfort zone is what truly crowns a Captains Draft 4.0 Champion.
Empire – The Challengers.
Team Secret came into the tournament with their first match being against Empire. Being the favorites coming into this match, the team chose very aggressive heroes such as Rhasta and Axe. However the early laning phase turned out difficult for them because they had to face off against an Underlord in the offlane. Putting an axe against Underlord definitely is not an exciting prospect simply cause of how strong Underlord’s kit performs against a Melee hero. The team put a lot of pressure on the mid lane, constantly helping out MidOne secure an advantage. A lot of the mid game decisions by the Secret lineup helped them avoid potential pitfalls. The BKB pickup by Troll warlord definitely helped tilt the tide in favor of Team Secret. This match was a clinical victory for Team Secret with a gradual approach to victory.
Mineski – The Champions of SEA Dota.
The BO1 format for the tournament meant that there was always a possibility for an upset. This is exactly what happened in their next match against Mineski. While Secret tried playing Pudge in this match, it backfired against them. Secret were not able to create a big enough advantage for themselves to counter the Razor. The Razor – Rhasta combination were extremely dominant in the mid lane against MidOne.
Secret went on into the playoffs where they faced off against Mineski yet again. This time, however they had some really good in game decisions with timely Aegis teamfights which helped them gain momentum. Outworld Destroyer as a hero was simply unable to deal with the vision game provided by Monkey King and the damage of an empowered Ember Spirit.
Game 2 of the semifinal saw a very tanky lineup being picked up by Secret. They had Wraith King, Medusa, KOTL in their lineup and it was clear they were going for the HP game. While they had a poor start to the game, there was just not enough damage on the part of Mineski to possibly take down Secret fast enough. Again Secret were quick with their Roshan fights and they managed to turn a bad early game into a strong mid game in order to win the match.
Evil Genius – Their first time with the new roster.
Secret played against EG in the quarter finals. EG came into this tournament for the first time with their new roster. While we did not really expect a lot from the EG roster, they did put up a strong showing in the three matches. The first game saw a big lead early on for Team Secret. Small positional mistakes by Sumail and team coordination saw EG fall flat on their face. They played the entire game from behind and could not catch up with Team Secret in the end, despite sporadic bursts of hope in the middle.
Secret have been focussing more on their team game and mid round calls as a whole. Their early game does not look as strong as that of some other teams, but their ability to properly utilize their strengths in the mid game helps them regain a lot of their advantage. While Secret’s Timbersaw took a huge early game advantage, the rest of the team was simply unable to reach a point where they would provide a fight. The EG lineup simply had more damage in the end and they were able to get through Timbersaw’s massive armor pool. The weak lanes for Secret came to haunt them in the end as they were unable to match up to EG’s damage once Timbersaw was not as ‘tanky’ as before.
The third game saw Secret pick a combination of Luna and Legion Commander. The two heroes ensured a late game for them, while also ensuring a strong early game push. Luna and Pugna were able to push through lanes, reset on Shrines and repeat the entire process again. Arteezy was the only hope for EG in mid lane, but then he is not a type of hero who can fight into the lineup of Secret. EG were able to surmount a comeback when they won the fight near the Roshan pit. This fight tilted the scales towards EG and ensured they did not fall behind heavily. But then again, we saw Midone become extremely dominant as the game progressed. Pugna’s magical abilities scaled really well with the BKB’s on EG being shorter and shorter in duration. In the end, EG lost a core to Secret & with Beastmaster down, it became impossible for them to take a fight. Secret won the map in a very decisive way, with calculated decisions.
The Final hurdle – Vici Gaming
Team Secret will face off against Vici Gaming in the finals. The two teams have not met in this tournament, partly due to Vici Gaming losing a BO1 to Mineski in the group stage. However Vici were able to bounce back from that one loss and have not dropped a single game since then.
The first game saw VG taking a huge lead right from the start of the game. Despite playing from a disadvantage in the Laning stage, due to offline Mirana missing out on the early stage blocking, VG had heroes who capitalised on the game. They rose to a 22-3 scoreline, with a 17000 gold lead. It seemed as if it was a sealed deal but slowly Secret started crawling back into the game. An initial pickup on Medusa led to several more kills. Ogre Magic’s Aghanim pick definitely helped Lifestealer in locking down Medusa and ultimately gain the huge advantage for the team. VG’s positioning against Secret was questionable with them constantly leaving their medusa unattended to face off against Ogre + Lifestealer. It was one of the miraculous comebacks and that is why you don’t give up on a game when you are team secret.
The second game saw some unconventional picks in Enigma, Centaur in the match. What should have been an easy lane for Razor actually turned out to be extremely good for Centaur, his opponent. This translated into a huge early game advantage for VG who were playing extremely aggressive on the back of this lead. However Yapzor definitely had some insane jukes and plays wherein they were able to bait the entire VG team into a Black hole. This team fight definitely seemed to turn the tides but we saw the VG making weird decisions in their approach to the game. But VG were able to secure their lead for a long time. Paparazzi was exceptional on his Storm Spirit. There was simply no counter for the Storm spirit who ran amok with his BKB and Bloodstone charges. The last pick storm spirit ensured Secret’s sniper had to go for really defensive items. While enigma had some really good black holes, there was simply no damage from Team Secret to utilise the opportunity. Team VG won Game 2 to draw out the series 1-1.
Game 3 saw a different hero pool for the teams to choose from. It was not a big surprise to see Leshrac and Tiny being the heroes picked up in addition to Omniknight. We finally saw a Leshrac vs Templar Assassin mid lane battle after quite some time. The Tiny vs Magnus lane definitely proved to be a boon for VG as YoungEleven just had a huge lead and increased the gap in mid game. At 15 minutes, Tiny was pulling ahead of the pack and there seemed to be no answer to the hero. When four heroes take around twenty seconds to kill one tiny, you know you are in trouble. The match was a very good example of how a perfect laning stage can snowball into a match victory for a team.
Game 4 seemed to be a repeat of Game 1 in what was another spectacular comeback by Team Secret. VG have always shown us a very strong start in all four games till now with Paparazzi being out of control most of the time. But small mistakes in the mid game are all that is needed by Team Secret to capitalize their dominance over VG. Team Secret played from behind in this match and won yet again another match which seemed impossible to win. With this win, the series was tied into a 2-2 scoreline for Captains Draft 4.0.
The championship game saw both teams take a deviation from the standard picks. We saw both teams drafting totally new heroes, including a Meepo for Team secret. For the first time in the series, Team Secret were actually ahead of their opponents. They had a big lead in the game partly coming from the fast farm that Axe and Meepo were able to secure from the team. Unlike VG however, Team Secret were able to build on this lead and ensure that they close out the match with a clean victory in the end.
Team Secret win Captains Draft 4.0.
In retrospect we can clearly see strengths and weaknesses for both the teams in the finals. While VG were able to secure big leads and advantages from the laning phase. However the Chinese roster was definitely lacking in their mid game decision making and callouts. Despite being in multiple games with huge advantages during the mid game, we saw VG not being able to take advantage of the lead.
On the other hand, Team Secret never gave up. Their positioning and their item choices were definitely the single biggest reason why Team Secret were able to secure Game 1 and 4 from VG. When the casters predicted VG to win the Games 1 and 4 with a 95% and 96% chance respectively, it could not have been further from the truth, considering the situation. However that being said, VG made some elementary mistakes including poor item choices, positioning and ultimate usage.
Team Secret – How far can they go?
Team Secret are undoubtedly the best team in Dota right now. We can argue about specifics and how other teams are executing better than Team Secret, but the results have to speak for themselves. Despite not having the best start to their matches in this tournament, Team Secret were able to persevere through the tournament and stage two insane comebacks.
With this victory, Team secret stand way ahead of the pack with 4140 Pro Circuit points. The team behind them in the rankings is Team Liquid with 2700 points. While their top position might still be vulnerable with some big Majors coming up in the next few months, Team Secret can relax knowing the others still have some catching up to do. You can view the current standings for the Dota2 Pro Circuit at Liquipedia. The next Minor will be ESL One Genting which will commence on 23rd January 2018.