The grand finals of the Nanyang Championships is a rematch of the round two winner’s bracket between the two DotA 2 titans, Vici Gaming and Team Secret.
Being one of the most anticipated LAN events before the Frankfurt Major, Nanyang Championships is the best occasion to observe the strength of each top team. As many people expected, Vici Gaming and Team Secret landed themselves in the grand finals looking to secure one of the most important titles before the Frankfurt Major. In terms of track record, Team Secret is the superior team having participated in the grand finals of three tournaments in a row – ESL One New York, MLG New Orleans, and the Nanyang Championships, and actually took home the trophy of MLG New Orleans. On the other hand, VG’s performance had been shaky after the post-TI5 reshuffle, but showed signs of recovery in recent matches.
VG opted for a four-melee race rolling lineup with the support of Undying’s Tombstone and Alchemist’s Acid Spray. VG’s Rubick was provided with a lot of room to cast his spells due to the protective nature of other heroes on the team. However, Secret’s Ancient Apparition hard countered the Alchemist and Undying combination. Just looking at the lineup, VG had more room of error, whereas Secret’s draft needed to be executed closely.
Secret dodged the tri-lane of VG because of the threat of Undying, therefore Doom and Juggernaut were able to secure a lot of farm respectively on their separate lanes. But the most threatening aspect of VG was the farm abusing Alchemist. With the weak matchup of Earthshaker, Fy’s Rubick was able to generate a lot of experience with pull camps, which became a huge threat for Secret. As the laning phase concluded, key items came online for Secret.
With a failed attempt to contest Roshan, Secret was able to snatch Aegis and Blink Dagger on Earthshaker. However, Beastmaster’s provided VG with vision across the map, which destroyed a smoke attempt of Secret. But most importantly, the vision provided could create space for Juggernaut’s farm efficiency with the Battle Fury. 32 minutes in, VG successfully killed off three heroes including two cores with a smoke wrap-around under the Dire tier two tower initiated by the Beastmaster. This fight was key for VG as they were able to take down one lane of barracks. However with a greedy fight right after the barracks take down, Secret killed off three heroes on VG, which slightly equalized the direction of the game. 39 minutes, Secret initiated a fight in mid-lane, although VG attempted to have Alchemist damage from the front, Misery’s Earthshaker was able to Echo Slam three heroes on VG’s side which won them the team fight and Secret secured Roshan immediately after.
It seemed like that VG’s lineup lacked damage output and they could not finish any heroes off on Secret. 46 minutes, VG attempted to initiate a gank on Shadow Fiend, but with the lack of damage and the immediate Boots of Travel reinforcement, they were counter ganked by the Secret squad. However, Secret’s hasty push because of over confidence was punished by VG with a team wipe and with this window of opportunity VG was able to take down a second lane of barracks. Once again, Doom’s Refresher Orb did work for Secret winning yet another team fight. But their attempt to take down the second lane of barracks was punished by the Aghanim’s Scepter of Juggernaut. Without the buyback of Shadow Fiend, VG marched into the base of Secret without giving Secret another chance to defend. VG took game one and pulled ahead in the series.
Secret’s game two draft was team fight oriented that revolved around Wrath King’s initiation and the AOE protection and burst coming from Shadow Fiend, Ancient Apparition and Dark Seer. Whereas VG’s lineup was formulated to punish Shadow Fiend with strong fight initiators. However, the success of VG’s lineup was entirely dependent on the amount of farm on the offlane Doom and the support Batrider.
The laning phase had advantages for both teams in different lanes. Secret’s tri-lane was able to kill off iceiceice’s Doom early and secured the tier one tower before five minutes. However, Secret’s mid lane Shadow Fiend was killed off by a rotation from Fy’s Batrider. But the nature of VG’s lineup was that it had a weak early game but a strong late game. Because of this Secret was able to bully VG around before Batrider’s Blink timing. However, Secret failed to punish this aspect of VG’s lineup and allowed Batrider to purchase his Blink at minute eight. With the threat of a Batrider initiation across the map, Secret’s movement was securely pressured.
Although VG had the map controlled tightly under the sleeves of the Batrider, Secret was able to maintain gold advantage despite all of this due to Roshan and the strong team fight. After a successful jump in the mid lane at minute 26, Wrath King was able to purchase his Blink Dagger as well and fights became exponentially more difficult for VG because they simply had no answer for the Wrath King. 40 minutes into the game, Phantom Lancer was beginning to accumulate enough farm to contest the Secret squad. 44 minutes, Secret snatched the Aegis but was immediately contested by VG. The result was slightly in favor of VG as they were able to deny the usage of Aegis of Secret. 47 minutes into the game, Secret knew that they could not drag the game any longer because they had no answer for a farmed Phantom Lancer. The push was once again denied because of a poorly executed fight by Secret.
But things went downhill from there as Wrath King was able to initiate a fight killing off two heroes from VG and even with buybacks coming in Secret took down their first lane of barracks. VG did not give up after this take down. Instead they quickly switched objective to taking down Roshan, even at the cost of the Phantom Lancer Buyback. Even with the Aegis on PL, VG’s fighting potential was still limited because their items could not keep up with Secret. Losing yet another fight at their base, Secret demolished VG in their final encounter. Secret equalized the series.
VG’s draft this game aimed to have an explosive mid game with Slark and Death Prophet. Although VG attempted to counter the Doom first pick by Secret, Secret counter-picks perfectly with an Anti Mage. On the other hand Secret had a gank oriented four protected one lineup revolving around the Bounty Hunter and Doom. The biggest win of this draft however was the strategy of Puppey. He first picked Doom to bait VG into picking heroes that countered Doom such as Clockwerk, Wrath King, and Ancient Apparition. After this Puppey picked Anti Mage in the last phase and VG did not have any picks to salvage their weakness against Anti Mage.
Death Prophet did not have a comfortable laning phase to say the least. With Bounty Hunter constantly harassing her, she was unable to farm at all compared with the Windranger. Anti Mage also had a good start because Clockwerk did not pose as much of a threat. The big winners however, were the two supports of VG – Wrath King and Ancient Apparition because they were able to obtain a lot of gold and experience from killing the Bounty Hunter. As the game progressed to the mid game, Anti Mage’s farm began to take off and VG simple had no solution to this Anti Mage. When VG spent their resources on killing this AM, which they failed to for the first 20 minutes, Secret still have a Doom with the hand of Midas to secure more farm. By 22 minutes, the game was looking very grim for VG as Anti Mage almost doubled the net worth of Slark. Anti Mage became unstoppable with the incredible amount of farm accumulated. Team Secret took game three in dominating fashion.
At the match point of the series for Team Secret, they brought out the fearsome w33 Meepo and a team fight based lineup of Disruptor Dark Seer, and Lich. Whereas VG opted for a face rush lineup with Viper, Doom and Timbersaw. VG looked to limit Meepo’s damage and mobility with Timbersaw as AOE burst and control and Secret aimed to keep Meepo alive with the armor gain from Dazzle and Lich.
The safe lane of Secret was pressured slightly by the jungle Doom, but fy sacrificed his opportunity to accumulate more farm by overstaying at top instead of farming in the jungle. At the same time Dark Seer on the side of Secret had the time of his life because Clinkz and Dazzle were not threatening at all. But Clinkz was able to help himself with a lot of farm and with several successful rotations around the map Clinkz hopped on top of the net worth chart.
However, Secret reacted quickly and decided to surround the map with sentries and was able to grab a recovery kill on Clinkz. As Meepo purchased his Aghanim’s Scepter, Secret once again proceeded to kill of Roshan. Although VG noticed early enough to contest this, Secret’s team fight capability was far more superior. VG once again took a lost in this fight. But the potency of Secret’s lineup began to fall off quickly as Timbersaw became more farmed over time. With the lack of stuns and farm on the side of Secret’s support, the game slowly became a three against five as Secret’s supports could not deal with the large damage output from Timbersaw and Clinkz. With a slow and steady lead, VG was able to once again equalize the series and the grand finals went to the final game five.
Finally in game five, Misery’s Slardar was able to go through into the pick phase. Although Slardar is one of Secret’s most comfortable heroes, the lineup Puppey picked along with Slardar was abnormal. Bounty Hunter and Dazzle offered minimal damage output that could support the Amplify Damage of Slardar. On the other hand, VG’s lineup was more typical with minus armor and a lot of stuns. But the weird pick of VG was their last pick Morphling. Although it offered some degree of stun for the Anti Mage, there are many other heroes that can counter the Anti Mage in lane with the Windranger.
Learning from their mistakes, VG rotated Windranger to Anti Mage’s lane to harass. But this gave Slardar the opportunity to soak up experience. When the first night came, Shadow Fiend was unprotected from any ganks. With several rotations from Slardar SF was killed off three times by eight minutes. VG’s stance in the game began to crumble as Tiny purchased his blink dagger. 13 minutes into the game Secret was already slaughtering VG with the score 12:2. VG was able to slightly recover killing off Tiny twice at the Roshan pit and securing the Aegis for the Shadow Fiend.
As the pace of aggression coming from Secret slowed down, Burning’s Juggernaut had the opportunity to recover with his timely Battle Fury, but VG still remained in an extremely disadvantageous spot. 31 minutes in Anti Mage secured his Abyssal Blade and the Aegis. Secret proceeded to take high ground and with the amount of item advantage they have VG’s defense seemed to be non-existent. 35 minutes in, as Anti Mage blinked through the tier four of VG to kill off five heroes of VG, GG was called and Team Secret took the series and the whole tournament.
After the post-TI5 reshuffle, Team Secret’s new lineup with w33ha and EternalEnVy was questioned by the broad public, mostly because of the unstable performance of EE and the doubted potential of w33. But after three tournaments, being in the finals of three of them and taking home the trophy for two, Team Secret has now shown the world that they are the strongest, and will be the strongest contestant at the Frankfurt Major. Congratulations to Team Secret once again with this victory and wish them all the best at the Frankfurt Major.