Entering the home stretch
TI9 is now in sight and the DotA Pro Circuit 2018/19 is heading into its last stages. Two majors remain – the MDL Disneyland® Paris Major coming this Saturday and EPICENTER at the end of June. For some teams this is make-or-break time; for others it’s a chance to showcase their unrelenting strength and set the tone for TI. A $1,000,000 total prize pool and crucial DPC points are up for grabs – 4950, 3000, 2100, and 1350 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place respectively (with proportionally smaller amounts available for 5th-16th place). Compared to previous events earlier on in the circuit where teams may not have felt the urgency of nearing The International, the Paris major guarantees to turn up the heat and push every team to their limits.
Secret in Paris
With our place at TI9 already secured, Secret will be coming in to the Paris major with confidence and dynamism. The team will be looking to once again take charge of the playing field against the other Tier 1 teams, most notably Virtus.pro, Evil Geniuses and Vici Gaming – all of whom have also secured their place at this year’s International. Fnatic are also expected to be one of the top contenders at this tournament should they maintain their recent surge in form, and even a mid-place finish for them will push them over the DPC points threshold of 3691 to claim a spot at TI, sitting on 3450 points currently.
Against the stronger teams we can expect more conventional drafts complemented by small adjustments to accommodate fresh meta developments which inevitably accompany each new tournament. We’ll most likely also see attempts to challenge the current ‘staple’ bans of Razor, Drow Ranger, Nyx, Earthshaker, and the re-emerging Sand King by leaving them open during drafts with prepared counter-strategies waiting in response.
With an imperious personality, captain Puppey isn’t one to shy away from a challenge and has no doubt prepared for and eagerly awaits a particular rematch against the flagship CIS team, Virtus.pro. Secret and VP have contested each other back and forth very evenly throughout this DPC circuit, and their most recent clash resulted in a close 2-1 victory for VP at DreamLeague. The boys will be looking to settle the score, and should the two teams meet in Paris, this promises to be an intense and explosive exchange which is most certainly one to watch.
What to look out for – goals and noteworthy opponents
Each team will have varying targets they wish to meet, aside from the overarching goal of winning the major itself. The weaker teams will be looking to find their rhythm, having prepared both drafts and strategy which they will feel more comfortable executing instead of catering too much to outsmarting the established meta. The stronger and more confident the team, the more specific their objectives are likely to be. For top tier teams this will involve challenging stronger drafts which have previously been negated through bans, and attempting to draft more adventurous and varied line-ups to provide different and unexpected obstacles for opponents. Successfully winning with unpredicted line-ups results in subsequent draft advantages by forcing opponents to once again grapple with something they are unprepared for, or to spend costly bans in an attempt to avoid it.
Vici Gaming (Previous Major Winners)
Vici Gaming will be an intriguing obstacle to address from a tactical perspective, particularly for both Secret and Virtus.pro, with their drafts at DreamLeague having been simple and predictable, yet repeatedly successful. Their use of hard late-game carry in the form of the infamous Terrorblade, Medusa, or Morphling paired up with hard save in the form of Vengeful Spirit and Oracle is now a tried and tested strategy. With pristine execution Vici took this all the way to their victory and secured their slot at TI9 in Sweden. There is no doubt that teams could spend a plethora of bans to negate this strategy but it’s never a good thing to concede ‘given’ bans, and with their place at TI already secured, both Secret and VP will undoubtedly have something prepared to try and crack this egg wide open.
NiP (Previous Minor Winners)
Worthy of mention and not to be dismissed lightly, Ninjas in Pyjamas captained by the notorious Peter “ppd” Dager have emerged victorious from the OGA DotA PIT Minor in Croatia and will therefore be joining the cream of the crop in Paris. In theory this makes them one of the weakest teams in the tournament, having fallen short at the initial major qualifying spots. However, being hot off a Minor win sets them up with the momentum to make a bid for the higher echelons of the major in Paris. With their trademark and oft-banned Drow Ranger NiP have no qualms about drafting a wide variety of cheese to devastating effect, having picked Broodmother, Meepo and Huskar in their last two matches of the minor alone, and ppd undoubtedly has the potential to unleash techies on his opponents.
We’re ready, we hope you are too!
We certainly hope the guys will rise to the occasion and secure a strong finish on the mainstage in Paris, as they’ve been putting in the hard work in preparation for this. The backing of fans can never be overstated and provides an immense boost in morale for the players knowing that people are cheering for them, so please give your support to Secret’s Puppey, MidOne, zai, YapzOr and Nisha as they battle it out this coming week. #SecretFighting
— by Duncan James