Team Secret has something left to prove

Pyo "MP" No-a, formerly of Dota 2 team MVP Phoenix, qualified for the Kiev Major with Team Secret. Michael Hanson for ESPN

Despite lack of premier talent at the EU Online Regional Qualifier due to the large number of European teams that received a direct invite to the Kiev Major, and the creation of the new CIS region, the event was still a contentious affair. Team Secret would ultimately earn the invite to Major on Monday, but it wouldn't be without a fight. After failing to qualify for the Boston Major and the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017, it's hoping to right its sinking ship with a high placement in Kiev.

Looking to be in top form for the first time in months, Team Secret made an impressive 8-1 run during the round-robin stage of the online qualifiers, dropping only one game to Alliance. Entering Sunday as the top seed in the playoff bracket, Team Secret turned on the afterburners, dominating both Ninjas in Pyjamas and Alliance 2-0 with each game lasting only 40 minutes or less, to secure a spot in the Grand Finals.

Secret's eventual showdown with Alliance was a battle of the broken that featured two formerly great teams on a quest for redemption. With their most recent first-place finish occurring at Starladder Season 1 in January of 2016, Alliance has seen better days. After failing to qualify for the Boston Major, Alliance's last appearance at a Valve event was The International 2016, which resulted in a 9th-12th place finish and subsequent dissolution of their 2013 Championship roster. Vaulted into the playoffs thanks to Cloud9 knocking off EPG in the last match of the round-robin stage, Alliance took full advantage of their newfound opportunity. Delivering a dominant performance led by Linus "Limmp" Blomdin, Alliance swept B)ears, but soon found themselves on the receiving end of a brutal beatdown at the hands of Team Secret in the Winner's Final.

That loss set up a rematch in the Loser's Finals between Alliance and B)ears, resulting in a repeat 2-0 series win for Alliance and a second rematch, this time with Team Secret in the Grand Finals. After a thorough trouncing in Game 1, it appeared Alliance would be experiencing a second round of deja vu. Adamant to keep that from happening, Alliance doubled down on their efforts in Game 2, pushing Team Secret to their limits in an all out brawl. However, an incredible performance from Pyo "MP" No-a on Huskar ensured that Team Secret were the ones to deliver the killing blow. Invoking memories of their run at the Shanghai Major in 2016, Team Secret punched their ticket to Kiev in compelling fashion.