It was a very close match but Team Secret pulled ahead to secure top 3.
Invictus Gaming took on Team Secret in an exhilarating series which would secure the winner a top 3 placement, and $3.5 Million!
Both teams coming into this looking quite strong. Invictus Gaming had won the Singapore Major, and played dominantly at the tournament so far. Team Secret erstwhile had been looking stronger and stronger throughout the event, and had sent defending champions OG to the Lower Bracket in strong fashion.
Without the pressure of elimination, this series would have both teams playing not for money, put the potential to be the first team to lift the Aegis in 2 years.
The moment of truth! Game 1 begins.
To start off the game, Team Secret would emerge with an intriguing draft which was based heavily around minus armour, phsyical damage and push potential. With Templar Assassin, Vengeful Spirit and Enchantress as the cornerstones of this idea.
Invictus Gaming would opt for more comfortable draft which would have very good skirmish ability. With the Emo Lina, Kaka Lion, and JT Mars secured, the game would look like another day at the office for the team.
Team Secret would have some questions about allowing Invictus Gaming to play all their comfort heroes. But they were able to dispense with these concerns very very quickly. Coming off to the races by being able to play a very stable laning phase, which snowballed into several kills everywhere.
Soon they were building up an incredible lead; and their damage amplification from Vengeful Spirit and Elder Titan allowed them to melt any Invictus Gaming heroes.
Nisha going off!
Team Secret would then force an early Roshan attempt, that also granted them a massive advantage atop their gold lead.
From this favourable position, Team Secret were able to ensure that they went from strength to strength. The lead on the Nisha Templar Assassin especially allowed them to dictate the direction of every fight. Soon Invictus Gaming were finding themselves picked off individually all across the map, with few responses.
Eventually, Team Secret would feel strong enough to begin encroaching on the Invictus Gaming high ground. Though Invictus Gaming attempted a decent hold on their own high ground, they could not save any buildings.
After losing building after building with no potential for claiming revenge, Invictus Gaming were forced into calling GG after a disastrous teamwipe in their base.
After such a dominant performance, Team Secret would progress in the series heavily favoured to secure themselves the top 3 berth.
Team Secret on the cusp of history!
We would see an immediate reversal of fortunes for Invictus Gaming, with them picking heroes far better suited to survive the laning phase.
Still relying on the Lion/Mars combo, this time they would be buttressed by Elder Titan and the teamfight of Kunkka. Ultimately though, the strategy would come down to enabling the FlyFly Spectre.
Team Secret would still focus on the physical damage output, sticking with the Nisha Templar Assassin; but also going back for the Matumbaman Lifestealer, a comfort pick for him.
The game was far closer, as Invictus Gaming didn’t get rolled over in the laning phase; allowing them to build up a base to play from.
This draft also had the major skirmish advantage, allowing them the ability to continuously seek out kills on the map.
Invictus Gaming will not make it easy!
Team Secret would not allow them to do this for free however, and Invictus Gaming would pay in blood for most of their adventures.
22 minutes into the game, and it was still a perfectly even affair, however Team Secret would be about to make their impact on the map known. Taking some good fights, they suddenly surged ahead in networth by a 7K margin. From this position, they attempted to repeat the successes of the prior game by playing aggressively into their opponents.
Invictus Gaming however, would not make this easy.
The next several minutes would be spent in constant brawls and fights between the sides, with neither side giving quarter. Although Team Secret maintained a large overall gold lead, the gap between the core heroes was imperceptible.
Fight after fight would place one team in an advantage, then the other would wrench it back away. It truly seemed like this game would be destined to be an eternal fight.
That was, until Team Secret would attempt a Roshan attempt that Invictus Gaming couldn’t allow to happen. Trying strike with force and put themselves in a commanding position, Invictus Gaming would instead be trapped into the Team Secret teamfight.
From here, the game would get progressively more difficult for Invictus Gaming. Although still excellent in their teamfight execution, there was a limit to what could be done from so far behind.
Shortly after this fight, Team Secret’s heroes would simply be too strong to contend with. Feeling strong enough to invade the base, they finally broke the Invictus Gaming high ground.
With no options, no buybacks, and no comeback potential; Invictus Gaming would be forced to fold their cards and call GG, granting Team Secret the 2 – 0 victory in this upper bracket matchup!
Puppey back to the Podium!
Puppey is the most storied player in the history of The International, being the only player to attend every single iteration. Not only that, but he was in the Grand Finals every year for the first 3 tournaments.
Although this is an amazing achievement, he has not been back to a podium finish since 2013. More importantly, he has not experienced this degree of TI success since forming Team Secret in 2014.
This time around though, things would be markedly different. Not only spending a year on top, but also performing well on the Main Stage and securing the best TI result any of the players have earned since 2014.
Characteristically though, they would be very measured in their reflections of the game. Zai when interviewed, would recognize that Invictus Gaming were far closer to victory than it seemed.
Although they were humble enough to regard their opponent’s highly, they were nonetheless extremely confident in their abilities going forward.
With this win, Team Secret would progress in the Upper Bracket, knocking Invictus Gaming down to the Lower Bracket to fight for their tournament lives .
The tournament is nowhere near finished, and every game seems to be elevating the level of Dota2 played!