The odds on betting sites across the web favored Team Secret to win The International 5 by a large margin. As odds favorites, fan favorites, and every analyst’s sweetheart, they were mandated to deliver and take home the Aegis this year. Nothing short of the championship title would have been a good result for them. That considered, it is even more shocking to see Team Secret eliminated from TI5 with a disappointing 7th-8th placement.
UPDATE (August 9):
Evil Geniuses are your TI5 champions! Grand Finals VODS, summaries, pictures and highlights: here.
Starting out during the summer months of 2014, after The International 4, Team Secret brings together five spectacular players – the aristocracy of Dota 2. Not many teams have as much individual star potential as Team Secret. They plucked both Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg and Artour “Arteezy” Babaev from Evil Geniuses and the ripple effect was tremendous, setting off a large scale Western reshuffle.
With a somewhat unconventional modus operandi, they created a reputation for being rather pretentious and ostentatious from the manner in which they conduct themselves at times, their organizational status and the raw confidence they exude. They set all misguided impressions straight when they stormed forward at an alarming rate to claim four consecutive LAN championship titles in major and premier tournaments, in only six weeks, between May-June.
Team Secret walked into The International 5 as utter favorites. They did well in the group stage and were seeded into the main event’s Upper Brackets, only to be sent to the Lower Brackets by EHOME, from the very first round.
In an interview conducted by Kaci Aitchison yesterday, Artour “Arteezy” Babaev attributed the loss to their overbearing pride. “We were too cocky,” he said, adding that the Lower Brackets would prove beneficial for the team, forcing them to play more games until they reach the Grand Finals, while getting used to TI5’s own meta and building more cohesion. Judging by Arteezy’s confidence, he was certainly not expecting to see Team Secret eliminated from TI5 so early.
After tonight’s series against Virtus.Pro, they will not be advancing any further than top eight, taking home ~$820,000.
Without knowing it, Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg predicted the disappointing outcome in an interview conducted by Sovann “Skim” Kim for DotaBlast, during ESL One Frankfurt:
If you’re the favorites, teams will be looking at you the most, which is quite bad for you as a team. If you’re winning a lot of games and tournaments, people will look at the way you play and they’ll want to counter the way you play. Then you may find yourself not winning any games anymore because every team knows how to play against you. So to go around that, we might see the need to do something entirely new for TI and switch up the game we play. Because if you go in and everyone knows ‘okay they smoke gank top now’ because that’s what we usually do, it could potentially be very destructive for us.
That was precisely what happened. The first time they went for a rather unusual draft, they were sent to the Lower Brackets. For their series against Virtus.Pro, they went with drafts and strategies that have worked perfectly for them in the past. It is difficult to say what they did wrong. Their drafts fell perfectly into their comfort zone, they didn’t make any mechanical mistakes, zai, s4 and Arteezy were in good shape.
However, Virtus.Pro saw Team Secret eliminated from TI5 contention, 2:1, managing to recover from a one-game deficit and flat out outplay them – an even more remarkable performance considering that the CIS team had never won a full series against Secret before.
As a small beacon of light in an otherwise complete sea of shock and most of all disbelief for Secret’s fans, the team is planning to regroup and come back stronger for the Dota 2 Majors. However, Team Secret might still see some roster changes in the near future. During ESL One Frankfurt, Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg told DotaBlast that he may take a year off after The International, to focus on his studies.
Our run at The International 2015 has unfortunately come to an early end. We will regroup and come back fighting in the upcoming majors.
— Team Secret (@TeamSecretDOTA2) August 6, 2015
With what is probably the biggest upset of The International 5 under their belt, Virtus.Pro will be moving forward into the Lower Brackets, where they will go up against LGD Gaming next.
Click on one of the pictures to open the gallery.
Summary of the series that saw Team Secret eliminated from TI5
The first game of the series started relatively even with Team Secret having the slight advantage after taking first blood and the following kill. Team Secret started pulling ahead after a 4:1 exchange at Virtus.Pro’s base. They left nothing for chance and made sure they did create any openings for VP.
At minute 25, a song of siren cought Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, but Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg’s vaccum wall grabbed VP in a beautifully executed play and turned the fight around. Team Secret would then wipe out four CIS heroes in front of their base. Virtus.Pro called “GG” at minute 29.
VOD: Team Secret vs. Virtus.Pro (Game 1)
Starting off the laning phase, Virtus.Pro went for Lina, Earthshaker, Visage, Storm Spirit, and Silencer, while Team Secret drafted Queen of Pain, Dark Seer, Luna, Shadow Shaman, and Enigma. G drew first blood on Kuroky, which really helped him on mid-lane and put him ahead of s4 in terms of farming. Secret managed a 3:2 trade in their favor minutes later, but VP were keeping up with their rotations. The game was even 9 minutes in, as Secret were a bit ahead in XP, thanks to Puppey, while Virtus.Pro were pulling ahead in gold.
VP did a great job at contesting Arteezy’s Luna. He was 0:2:3 at minute 12, sitting at 2.5K in net-worth, near the bottom of the chart. However, the CIS team started showing the first signs of struggle at minute 13, when s4 had purchased his Orchid Malevolence. They did manage to slow s4 down a notch, due to fng‘s nukes. Meanwhile, Arteezy continued to be incredibly underfarmed. On the other hand, s4’s Queen of Pain was topping the net-worth chart, with 8K.
Arteezy had alread gone down for the sixth time by minute 16, this time near Roshan. Virtus.Pro snatched the Aegis. At this point, G was able to jump in, take heroes down and bounce right back, while DkPhobos had picked his Blink Dagger and had a level two Echo Slam on top. Towers kept falling on both sides, but VP always seemed to come out on top, taking a comfortable lead in both XP and gold. Secret found an opening at minute 27, when s4 managed a big pick-off, taking down God and Illidan. Secret headed for Roshan and bounced back in terms of XP.
Virtus.Pro needed to start establishing dominance before Arteezy – who now had his BKB – caught up. And that was precisely what they did. Completely outplayed, Secret got wiped in their own base, with no buybacks, at minute 36, and VP walked away with a double set of racks. By this point, G’s Storm Spirit had his hex on and was topping the chart in net-worth, with 20K. Minutes later, Secret called the “GG”. Virtus.Pro had evened out the elimination series.
VOD: Team Secret vs. Virtus.Pro (Game 2)
No summary can do justice to this deciding third game. Team Secret drafted their comfort heroes – Dark Seer, Rubick, Queen of Pain, Shadow Fiend, and Dazzle – while Virtus.Pro went for a little bit more pushing power, with Lina, Earthshaker, Visage, Storm Spirit, and Drow Ranger. zai drew first blood on fng. Despite picking off the first blood, Secret gave up a kill on Puppey to Illidan. Ten minutes in, the game was still incredibly close.
A beautifully executed TP-out came from Illidan, around minute 14, when Secret tried to gank him at Roshan. Everything started to slowly fall apart for Secret. They did not have a counter for Storm Spirit, and G was getting closer to a critical blood stone.
At minute 27, after a few favorable pick-offs for Secret, the game was once again even. Virtus.Pro could have wrapped up the series one minute later, if they had had a better positioning. They managed to knock down Arteezy, but lost God instead. They won another important fight minutes later and went for Roshan, securing a 5K swing from that alone.
Secret had no buybakcs on the heroes that mattered and lost four of them at minute 33, only to bounce back into the game and pick off four of VP’s heroes, minutes later. However, they were unable to come through whenever VP gave them the opportunity and the CIS team had taken down two sets of racks by minute 47. With G continuing to snowball, Virtus.Pro were merely one fight away from taking the game – 20K ahead in gold and 15K ahead in XP.
Team Secret were afraid to leave their base. VP came out on top of a complete bloodbath at minute 50. Four minutes later, they would get the final set of racks and force mega creeps. Secret called their final “GG” and their banner faded from the KeyArena.
VOD: Team Secret vs. Virtus.Pro (Game 3)