Nigma continues their miracle of a tournament run defeating Virtus.Pro 2-0 in the upper bracket.

The most anticipated match of AniMajor Playoffs Day 1 saw the reigning kings of CIS, Virtus Pro, take on an in-form Nigma.

The hopes were sky-high for VP after their 2nd undefeated run in the CIS DPC. With that said, there were also many doubts, understandably so after their shaky showing in the Singapore Major. This match would determine which VP had come to play today.

On the side of Nigma, the stakes were astronomical as the team needs a strong finish at the Major. With T1 qualifying for The International 10 after defeating Team Aster earlier, the road to a TI ticket became that much harder. Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi and his squad would need a high placing here to secure their spot at TI10.

The Heroes are always handicapped

The road Nigma have had so far has been anything but easy. Coming from a Cinderella-story Wild Card run, they faced yet another setback coming into this series.

Less than a minute into the game, Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi started to feel unwell, and the match was postponed as a result. With Miracle- on the sidelines, Virtus Pro graciously decided to agree to a remake.

Thankfully, after the NoPing-Quincy Crew series, Miracle- began to feel better. The match was remade, with the same draft, and same starting items. Boy, was it worth the damn wait.

Game 1 – How Do You Fight Into Instant Death?

While Virtus Pro picked meta favourites in Mars, Ursa, Magnus and Ancient Apparition, Nigma opted for pure comfort. Although unorthodox, they picked up Maroun “GH” Merhej’s signature Rubick, and got Miracle his 90% win-rate Invoker. It was the battle between VP’s insane team fight and Nigma’s ‘Delete-A-Hero‘ combo.

The first 10 minutes of the game were simply put: ResidentSleeper. Both teams seemed completely satisfied on their side of the map, passively farming away, with first blood only being drawn at 10 minutes.

As with any bloodshed though, once you’ve had a taste, you only want more. From that point on, the battle truly began as Nigma and VP commenced everyone’s favorite part of Dota – running at each other.

Despite the constant back-and-forth trades, the game looked to be in VP’s favor early on. While Igor “iLTW” Filatov’s Spectre could only join fights with Haunt, Egor “Nightfall” Grigorenko’s Ursa could fight endlessly. All the while, Danil “gpk” Skutin’s Magnus was accruing a sizable gold lead thanks to his Empower ability.

While it looked like Nigma were on the backfoot, the superstars of this story were simply biding their time. With Miracle’s Aghanim’s Scepter finally online – their combo was complete. They obliterated VP heroes in the blink of an eye with every Berserker’s Call from Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov’s Axe.

Nigma showcase Perfect Execution

After you see a trick once or twice, you’re more likely to not be fooled again. Yet, Nigma perfectly executed their combo again and again – striking the VP heroes down. The TI7 winners danced around VP, kiting them out perfectly to win team fights by the skin of their teeth.

Even with Nigma’s seeming lead, VP were by no means out of the game. All they needed was for Nigma to make a single-mistake. The thing though about TI winners, is that they don’t. With perfect synergy, the well-oiled machine of Nigma decimated the young guns of Virtus Pro, forcing them to eventually tap out of Game 1.

Game 2 – GH shows why He’s called God

Needing a fresh start to Game 2, Virtus Pro borrowed a book from the Team Spirit playbook. Apart from the Templar Assassin for gpk-, VP picked up an unorthodox offlane Kunkka and Position 1 Mars.

In response to the physical damage based draft from VP, Nigma picked up Miracle’s Razor – a direct lane counter to TA, along with GH’s Winter Wyvern.

Where Game 1 saw Nigma win through perfect outplays, Game 2 was a complete schelacking in Nigma’s favour. In the same way they’ve won many of their matches thus far, Nigma turned up at VP’s mid tower in full force at 12 minutes.

As early as that was where it started all going downhill for VP. It’s not even that the CIS representatives played poorly, the fights just seemed so impossible for them to take. Nigma had all the pieces of the puzzle. Between the aura-stacking and perfect vision game from Beastmaster and Enchantress, VP already had their work cut out for them.

As skilled as VP were, they could not resolve the Achilles Heel of their draft – the sheer reliance on physical damage. This meant that with a single Cold Embrace from GH’s flawless backline Winter Wyvern, their places were iced.

A champion needs fighting spirit, and that is something VP didn’t lack. Even with their tenacity though, VP’s inability to catch and kill the pesky Wyvern was ultimately their downfall.

In a last ditch effort to salvage the game, VP popped their Moonlight Shadow to try and contest Nigma’s Roshan attempt. Recognising that VP only had one play, GH planted himself right outside the pit and laid his trap. A perfect Winter’s Curse halted any chance VP had at a fight, and Nigma secured the series shortly after in a commanding 2-0 final score.

The Day Ahead

With their win over VP, Nigma has cemented their place in Top 6, and secured themselves a much needed minimum of 300 DPC points.

via Noxville’s Twitter

Nigma’s biggest challenge yet will come tomorrow. They face the Chinese Titans PSG.LGD, who beat Alliance 2-0 earlier today.

As for Virtus Pro, they’ll have to continue their run in the Lower Bracket, where they face up against the top dogs of the Wild Cards Vici Gaming.

Here is the bracket going into Day 2 of the Playoffs.

Nigma are set to face against PSG.LGD tomorrow in the Upper Bracket
Brackets for Day 2 of the WePlay AniMajor Playoffs

Nigma have without a doubt had the toughest run in the WePlay AniMajor thus far. They’ve also played the most amount of games, at 27 matches total. Nigma has already impressed and upset teams all across the board, but their work is not yet done.

This bodes well for Dota 2 fans though, as that just means more insane matches for us to enjoy.

Stay tuned to esports.gg for the latest Dota 2 news and updates.

Mike Tsang - Writer of the Month: April

Mike Tsang

Writer of the Month: April | Twitter: @permasneeze | Twitch: permasneeze

Mike is a digital content producer from Singapore who lives and breathes Dota 2. When he's not playing or watching the game, he can be found slurping ramen or sleeping next to his cat.