Virtus.Pro took down Team Secret to win $500,000 last weekend at ESL One Hamburg in the latest Dota 2 major, getting redemption after coming in second at the Kiev Major earlier this year. Team Secret finished in an encouraging second place and could be a burgeoning elite Dota 2 team for some time to come.
Semi No. 1: Virtus.Pro stamps out the Newbee hope
The semifinal between Virtus.Pro and Newbee was a coin flip. Both teams were built on aggressive drafts and team fighting execution. Newbee matched Virtus.Pro's aggression with drafts featuring Batrider, Spirit Breaker and Nature's Prophet, but the team's biggest weakness of taking objectives was reflective in its drafts; Newbee's heroes were built to kill and its siege game was hampered as a result. Newbee's star, Song "Sccc" Chun, was as consistent as ever and Hu "Kaka" Liangzhi was given strong counters to the opposition's cores, but the team could not bring it all together. While the set was indicative of how evenly matched the two teams were, the edge from Virtus.Pro came from its utility players, Pavel "9pasha" Khvastunov and Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk. 9pasha was a rotation monster and was a constant threat to kill and assist regardless of the time on the clock and Lil managed to damage and impact the game like a core while playing a support role.
Semi No. 2: Team Secret rolls through Team Liquid
This was a battle between consistency and experience against unproven and raw talent and lane dominance against snowball compositions. The story was Team Secret's Yeik "MidOne" Zheng and Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard -- MidOne's consistent play was the engine (and damage) behind every Team Secret teamfight, and Ace was the closer that started each snowball run for the team's victories. A lot of the credit must be given to the versatility and deep hero pools of every player on Team Secret. Whether it was MidOne playing the tankier Bristleback or Ace with the Phantom Assassin, the different draft compositions provided too many looks to counter. Team Liquid played its signature stifling lane dominance with greedy picks (Gyrocopter and Invoker), but Team Secret found a way to speed the game up through aggressiv chase heroes like Night Stalker and Phantom Assassin, and punished its opposition.
Grand finals: Virtus.Pro against Team Secret
Virtus.Pro went through a gauntlet to claim its first major victory over Team Secret having to beat Keen Gaming, Team Liquid, Newbee, and finally Team Secret to take it all. Team Secret was a surprising grand finalist, but its play throughout the weekend with the emerging chemistry between MidOne and Ace could rocket this team into superstardom. The key to Virtus.Pro's victory was through its captain, Alexei "Solo" Berezin's drafting prowess. He focused on specific timing with heroes that presented multiple bad matchups for the opposition.
Game 1 set the tone for Virtus.Pro's momentum. Solo drafted a four-protect-one lineup and the team shored up its weak lanes with rapid rotations and aggression. Vladimir "No[o]ne" Minenko's Sniper was unstoppable after a slow start with a statistic line of 16-1-11 (Kills, deaths, assists) and dealt a game-leading 39,173 in hero damage. Team Secret's magic-heavy draft and all-or-nothing roaming Mirana was ineffective.
The closing game for Virtus.Pro was not an outdraft, but it was a game of decision-making. Team Secret's picks of Ember Spirit, Phantom Lancer, and Magnus were comfort picks, but could not get its snowball going. Virtus.Pro correctly shut down MidOne's Ember Spirit and patiently waited out Team Secret's over-aggression for the correct punishment to take the title, 2-0.