Team Secret – The winners of Captain’s Draft 4.0

Secret Captain's draft 4.0 DOTA 2
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DOTA 2: Captain’s Draft 4.0 was an unorthodox tournament as it had specific rules allowing teams to pick from 27 randomly chosen heroes in each game. This offered an unrivaled variety of Dota 2 matches – ones not restricted by the meta or repeat picks.

For those who follow the scene, it came as no surprise that Team Secret were heavily involved in the battle for supremacy. Out of the eight teams that went to Washington DC to fight for a share of the $300,000 prize pool, Puppey’s boys demonstrated the most resilience, adaptiveness and desire to win, deservedly securing $108,000 and 150 Pro Dota 2 Circuit points.

A fitting start to 2018

Team Secret did not have a great group stage, finishing third with two defeats and just one win in Group A. Their only success came in the opening clash against Team Empire, with this being followed by two consecutive losses to Mineski and Vici Gaming.

This meant they had to play EG, the second-best team from Group B, in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. The American outfit gave them a run for their money, but Secret eventually prevailed 2-1 after a hard-fought battle.

Puppey’s boys’ next challenge was Mineski, who had scored a win against them in the group stage. The SEA team were much less trouble this time around as Secret clinched their spot in the finals with a clean 2-0 victory.

The finals

Vici Gaming, another of their group rivals, were waiting in the showpiece clash. The battle proved to be spectacular, as there were plenty of twists and turns, with the game ending 3-2 in favour of Secret. The European side had their backs against the wall in four of the five games, but often managed to find a way out of tricky situations, demonstrating unshakable mettle in the late game.

Game one was dominated by Vici, but the Chinese outfit had trouble closing out the game. Team Secret were pulled back from the brink by Ace, whose Lifestealer became unstoppable in the late game, enabling them to secure the win.

Vici Gaming outdrafted their opponents in the following game and their Storm Spirit pick proved key – after having a good early game and with little control spells on the side of Secret, the victory went to the Chinese team.

The team drafts were quite balanced for game three, with Secret having the team fight advantage and VG enjoying a heavy physical damage line-up. Contrary to expectations, though, Vici Gaming emerged with a huge advantage from the laning stage and steamrolled their opponents to score an easy win.

Vici won the laning stage yet again in game four and dominated in a similar manner to the previous game, but Secret managed to hang on and get back into the game in the later stages. Dubious late-game decisions from Vici were punished by Secret, who were able to level the scores to 2-2.

Game five did not bear any resemblance to the previous games in the series as Team Secret won the early game for the first time and built on their advantage. The Meepo choice, as unconventional as it was, worked like a charm and granted them a rather easy victory, enabling them to take the series 3-2.

The Secret to victory

Team Secret are currently flying high as this is the second consecutive final that the team have won following their success at DreamLeague Season 8 in December.

The improvement in their recent performances is in no small part due to the additions of Ace and Fata in September.

The carry arrived from Danish Bears and was the hero for the team in two of the finals games against Vici Gaming. His performances highlighted the fact that he is a solid carry who loves a team fight, but he is also capable of making solo kills. Being a Meepo player is quite a rare skill in professional Dota, and his play with the hero was both entertaining and efficient. Ace brings consistency to the carry role – something that was lacking when MP, the previous carry, was in the team.

Fata arrived alongside Ace in September, but in a new role – that of offlaner. Following the trend of mid-players switching to offlane, Fata adapted quickly. Having the experience on the mid-lane, he gives tactical width to his team and is able to play as a main core if the team draft and strategy demands it. Fata had some shaky performances in the Captain’s Draft, but also carried his team on occasions throughout the tournament, which shows that he is still adjusting to his new role and may also have been hindered somewhat by the shorter selection of available heroes.

YapzOr is another player who arrived in 2017, but earlier in the year. Arguably his transfer was the one that enabled Team Secret to compete at the same level as the top teams. Prior to his arrival, the team lacked a typical position four player – a playmaker who can make successful early rotations – and as such were not confident in the playstyle that version 7.00’s meta dictated. YapzOr is one of the best in his position and a highly skilled player at that. He is the flash player in the team, alongside MidOne. YapzOr’s playstyle also includes farming and he can transition to a semi-core role if the game allows it.

Apart from Puppey, MidOne is the only player that has been in the team for over a year. Having heaps of talent at his disposal, the Malay mid did not take long to adapt to his new team and has improved under Puppey’s guidance. Prone to flashy plays if the hero permits it, he thrives on playing heroes that can steamroll or make a significant impact in the late game. Despite being a good laner, his peak is in the late game and his Ember Spirit is a must watch.

Last but not least, Puppey is the foundation of the team – there would be no Team Secret without him. An owner, a captain and a shot caller, the living Dota 2 legend has played in and captained Natus Vincere as well as Secret. Having the reputation of a demanding and strong leader, Puppey is also a great drafter and one who figures out new metas quickly. Although he plays as a position five, he prefers to have heroes that can have an impact on the game not only in the laning stage, but in the team fight. Furthermore, whenever possible, he likes to farm an item or two. A firm believer in the vision game, Puppey often picks Night Stalker and considers warding one of the most strategic and important aspects of the game.

Final words

Team Secret demonstrated that they are turning into a well-oiled machine in a tournament which favoured adaptability, versatility and utilising the heroes at one’s disposal as far as drafting and play style is concerned. The team had ups and downs throughout, but demonstrated resilience, calculated play and “never give up” mentality against their opponents.

Puppey and co are playing top Dota 2 right now and it is no surprise that they are far ahead of the opposition in terms of Pro Circuit Points with 4140 (Team Liquid and Virtus.pro are both in second spot with 2700 each). Based on this evidence, they fully deserve to be ahead of the pack.