Image: Mars Media
Team Secret won the MDL Disneyland? Paris Major with a 3-1 win over Team Liquid in the grand finals. Team Liquid were in great form, beating TI8 champions OG and TI8 runners up PSG.LGD along with the NA powerhouse Evil Geniuses to make it to the grand finals. But Secret were ready for them and after getting thrashed in game 1, got the better of Liquid in the next three games.
When these two match up against each other, the draft is just as scintillating as the game play. Puppey and Kuroky locked against each other in a battle of the wits is always something to look forward to. Although I am not close to either one of the two great captains, I’ll give it a try to decipher the thought process in the drafting for the four games of the grand finals.
Total heroes picked in the tournament: 95
Most played heroes: Sand King (34 games, win rate 47.06%), Nature’s
Prophet (34 games, win rate 47.06%), Doom (29 games, win rate 48.28 %)
Most banned heroes: Doom, Drow Ranger, Enigma (59 games), Nyx Assasin (58), Dark Seer (51)
Total games played at before the final day: 12 Games won: 10
Win rate: 83.33%
Heroes played: 37
Most played heroes: Abaddon, Monkey King, Rubick (4 games), Pudge (3 games)
Total games played at before the final day: 21
Games won: 13
Win rate: 61.90 %
Heroes played: 45
Most played heroes: Nature’s Prophet, Nyx Assassin, Earthshaker (6 games), Morphling, Sand King (5 games)
Secret started off the grand finals with bans on the Nyx Assasin, Oracle and Doom. Nyx and Doom were two of the most banned heroes of the tournament and for good reason. The Oracle ban (even though the hero has been slightly nerfed) is a good one against a team like Liquid, whose game plan more often than not is to enable that one hero played by Miracle. Liquid banned the Monkey King (in all four games) which is a MidOne staple and a hero they just did not want to deal with. Earthshaker and Abaddon were banned off as well, two of the most sought after supports in the tournament. Liquid had had a bad experience playing against FY’s Earthshaker and they didn’t want a repeat with Yapzor. Secret had first pick so it was always a risk leaving it open.
Secret went for Sand King, a versatile hero that adds to team fight. Liquid responded with Dark Seer and Earth Spirit. Dark Seer was also one of the most banned heroes of the tournament as he is in a good place right now. Mind_Control is more that adept on that hero, as he showed against PSG.LGD. Earth Spirit was a replacement to the Nyx Assassin. DS – Nyx is a strong lane with Nyx running around with the Ion Shell on him, harassing the opposition carry. Earth Spirit can fill that role, but instead of running around, he just rolls and stuns the opponent while the Ion Shell does damage. Secret picked the Outworld Devourer in response to that which could have been for two reasons: (a) it negates the Earth Spirit mid lane gank potential as Astral Imprisonment buys time for supports to teleport in and (b) it is a very good pick against Morphling, just in case Liquid did decide to go for it. That was a valid reason for concern as Miracle had destroyed teams on his Morphling throughout the tournament.
Liquid got rid of Sven and Batrider, although the Sven ban was not the most clear here. Batrider probably made sense as Abaddon and Oracle were no longer in the pool for a potential save against a Lasso initiation. Secret banned Pugna and Lone Druid, both counters to the OD in the mid lane.
Drow Ranger and Disruptor were the picks of choice for Liquid. Drow, a carry popular throughout the tournament, had somehow made it through two banning phases and Liquid were not going to let her slip. Disruptor was probably a counter pick to Secret’s Tidehunter, having the ability to glimpse away the big watermelon when he blinks in. A Tide caught out can turn the tides with a Ravage, making time for his team to arrive but that isn’t possible with a Static Storm over you. Secret, along with the Tidehunter, picked the Arc Warden. Maybe they wanted to give away the Drow Ranger and had planned on countering it with an Arc Warden pick. Drow’s Marksmanship proc does neglect evasion, but that only gets to 40% at level 18. Drow is countered by Arc Warden and his bubble as she isn’t a hero that prefers going near the Tempest Double to get rid of it.
A Lich ban came out from Liquid. Possible reasoning behind it could be to stop the initiators, Sand King and Tide from causing additional damage with the Ice Armor. It is also something that can be used on the Tempest Double every time it sets out on a mission, making it harder to kill. Also, the Chain Frost combines well with Ravage and Epicenter. Secret banned out Storm Spirit, a hero that can snowball with Drow’s Precision Aura.
Secret were still worried about the Morphling pick from Liquid, which was evident when they picked up Ancient Apparition as their postion 5 hero. Ice Blast destroys Morphling. But Team Liquid seemed to be undetered as they stick picked the Morphling! It’s just a hero Miracle is extremely comfortable on right now. They would have been open to a lot of critisism had they lost, but Liquid won the game quite convincingly against all odds.
Liquid stuck with their Monkey King and Abaddon bans but added a Rubick in there instead of the Earthshaker. Rubick is no doubt, one of Yapzor’s iconic heroes, but a first phase ban was a bit surprising. It could have hinted they wanted to go for an Enigma, but they didn’t really do that. It just took one game for Secret to realize that it was in their best interest to ban the Morphling, and that’s just what they did. Respect ban. Doom and Dark Seer were standard bans as well, DS more so after Mind_Control’s performance on the hero in game 1.
Liquid stuck with the Drow, keeping Earthshaker and Enigma open for Secret to pick. Like the English panel mentioned, Liquid don’t play Drow as a position 1 hero like most teams. That’s the Matumbaman hero while Miracle’s hero is the position 1 hero. So I have a feeling they didn’t mid giving up the Enigma in phase 1 because (a) Drow can kill the hero before the Black Hole ends and (b) they could have drafted around it in the second and third phases. Secret were not falling in that trap and opted for an NP and Sand King. The good thing about Sand King, like Enigma or Doom is that it can be used as a position 3 or position 4 hero and is good to keep the opponent guessing. It is a similar scenario with NP, who is even more versatile when it comes to position. Looking at Secret’s picks ahead in the game, NP was a part of their global strat along with Arc Warden and Zeus.
Secret banned Medusa and Storm, two strong heroes who benefit from Drow’s Precision Aura. The attack speed just accelerates their farm rate and helps them come online a lot earlier. Additionally, Miracle had displayed his talents on both those heroes in the tournament and Secret decided to target him knowing Matumbnaman’s hero had already been picked. Secret went for the Batrider and Enigma ban here. The Batrider ban, I can’t find a specific reason for other than the fact that the hero was quite strong throughout the Major. Before the last day, he had 13 wins out of 21 (61.90% win rate) meaning the hero is in a good position right now. There is a possibility that Liquid had already thought of the Juggernaut pick here and Batrider is a good counter to Juggernaut, being able to disable him with the Flaming Lasso even when he uses Blade Fury. Maybe I was wrong about Liquid being ready to play around the Enigma, because they did ban it out here.
Secret went back for the Arc Warden pick, showing that they were confident in the abilities of the hero. It can serve as a decent Drow counter and they were ready to prove it. The Zeus pick, I’m sure, shocked even Team Liquid (pun intended) because that is a hero completely out of the meta. But the English panel mentioned that Zai had been playing the hero in pubs and Yapzor well versed with that hero in a position 4 role. It just added to their global strat with Nature’s Prophet and Arc Warden. Liquid went for the Jakiro and Tidehunter. Jakiro, I’m guessing is a hero with low cooldowns who has the potential to deal with the Arc Warden clone. Ice Path and Liquid Fire can mitigate a lot of the damage the comes from the hero. Also good AoE clear against Furion’s Treants as well as an ability to find an NP hiding in the trees using Ice Path. Tidehunter was the frontliner who added team fight to Liquid’s line-up and being a natural Pipe builder, would mitigate the immense magic damage comeing from Team Secret’s heroes.
Secrect knew their draft would take time to come online and banned out the Anti-Mage to ensure they weren’t overrun in the mid game, when they would start to make their plan work. Liquid banned out the Ursa, who can get a jump on Drow and get rid of her. He also isn’t too bad against Jugg (which Liquid picked later) as Ursa comes online a lot earlier than Jugg, can Fury Swipe him through the Blade Fury and survive against the Omni Slash using Enrage.
Juggernaut was a decent pick for Liquid as Secret had no magic immunity piercing stuns. Miracle did go for the Battlefury, which served as a good tool to get out of Nature’s Prophet Sprouts as well. The spin countered the ample magic damage Secret had. Secret had the last pick and went for Sven. The old Sven was a very good counter to the Jugg with Warcry granting armor. The new Sven is not too bad in the early stages, but not the best towards the end. But with this pick, Secret hinted that unlike the first game, the Arc Warden was going mid and Sven would play second fiddle to him; a hero that can just Blink onto the Drow Ranger and delete her. In a way, the new Sven is better against the new Drow as the proc chance for Marksmanship negates armor. The old Warcry would not have been too useful there.
Liquid continued with the Monkey King ban, a hero they did not want to see in MidOne’s hands. Abaddon was one of the best supports at the MDL Disneyland? Paris Major which justified the bad. Secret got rid of Dark Seer and Earthshaker, two of Liquid’s most played heroes and two that did really well in the tournament. Instead of banning the Morphling this time though they banned the Drow, kind of sending out an invitation to Liquid to pick the Morph without the Drow.
Liquid had first pick and they went for the Sand King, which would force Zai to play a new hero in the grand finals (not that Zai would mind!). This first pick meant that three of the five most banned heroes of the tournament, Doom, Enigma and Nyx were open for picking. Secret probably didn’t expect this, but were more than happy to pick up two of those heroes – the Enigma and the Doom. Liquid straight up picked Morphling – if they can win with with it with an OD and AA in the opposition, why not?
Although they’d managed to win with the Morph against OD and AA, Liquid banned the two knowing they are good counters to the hero. Secret went for Oracle and Batrider. Oracle is a great support to save Morphling, give him time to Waveform away and strength Morph in case he gets ganked. The Batrider was ban was probably a resposnse to Liquid’s Abaddon ban. Banning Abaddon can hint at a Batrider pick. The slight surprise I’d say was the fact that Secret didn’t ban the Nyx Assasin. Nyx was one of the best heroes of the tournament, GH is a really good on it (too be fair, that guy is good on nearly any hero) and they had an Enigma, who can easily get caught with the Spiked Carapace.
Secret picked up Lion and Troll Warlord. Lion is a good counter to Morphling becuase of the burst damage. Doom the hero when he is high on Agility and then use Finger of Death to ensure the kill. Liquid picked up the Nyx and the Razor. Nyx was kind of expected with it being a strong hero and an Enigma counter as well. Razor was a counter to the Troll Warlord – no damage, no lifesteal with the Battle Trance! Something similar to what Liquid did in game 3 against PSG.LGD – just linked the PA and took the opposition carry right out of the game (easier said than done, though).
Secret banned the Shadow Shaman, a perfect tool to kite the Troll Warlord when he is in his Battle Trance. Hex and Shackles assures Troll’s death when the Battle Trance ends. Liquid banned the Naga Siren, which was a bit of a confusing ban. Troll has been played in the mid lane at times, but usually he is the position 1 hero. Maybe they were afraid of the Song of the Siren into Black Hole combo. After all, if any team will pick up an unexpected hero, it is Team Secret.
Liquid picked up the Winter Wyvern, a guranteed stopping of the Black Hole, BKB or not. Secret rounded up their Draft with a TA. Templar doesn’t do too badly against Razor in the mid lane and it gave Secret a way to fight early with the Troll farming.
This was the first game Secret were on the Radiant side and Liquid on the Dire. Secret had first pick and made sure Liquid didn’t get their hands on the Dark Seer and Morphling along with NP. A Nyx or Earthshaker ban along with DS and Morph was what I expected, but seems like Puppey and SunBhie had something else in mind. Liquid stuck with the Monkey King ban and added a Drow and Doom in there.
Having first pick, Secret left Abaddon in the pool and Liquid didn’t think of banning it. Having made it through the first banning phase the first time in the grand finals, Secret were more than happy to grab the hero, who has made great strides as a position 5 hero recently. Liquid hit back with Enigma and Earthshaker, two of the big heroes of the tournament. Now here is where a Rubick ban would have made more sense as compared to game 2. Black Hole is an easy ability to steal and so is Fissure. Secret got the Rubick for Yapzor without any hesitation.
Come the second phase, Liquid banned out the Sand King and Ember Spirit. Sand King, as Secret had shown in the first two games, was a hero they liked and were comfortable playing with. The Ember Spirit ban, I assume, was becuase they were thinking of the Anti-Mage. Ember’s Searing Chains cannot be reflected by Anti-Mage’s Counterspell and he can’t blink out of it either. Liquid also went for a Sniper at the end and Ember is great at getting a jump on Sniper. Secret got rid of Lone Druid and Naga Siren. Lone Druid is a Matumbaman staple and Naga Siren combos exceptionally well with Enigma.
Liquid went back for the Disruptor here, although not entirely sure why. Maybe a comfort pick for Kuro, maybe a good way to counter a stolen Black Hole. Secret got the Pangolier, a versatile and forgotten pick (forgotten by most but OG). A Swashbuckle silence or Rolling Thunder into Blink on Enigma’s back can be a possible Black Hole cancel. But it can also work the other way, with Rolling Thunder being negated by the Black hole. Anti-Mage was Liquid’s fourth pick, indicating they were in it for the long haul (just like Valve is with Artifact). Secret retaliated with a TA, a hero that counters AM as she fights early and takes over the game while AM is still waiting to come online.
In the last phase, Secret banned out Necrophos, which was not totally evident to me. It is a hero Matumbaman is comfortable on and maybe MidOne just didn’t want to face it while playing Templar Assasin. Liquid banned Lycan, which along with TA’s Desolator, would have given Secret the power to finish the game in 20 minutes. Cannot risk that while running an Anti-Mage line-up.
Secret went back to the Sven, but this time it would be a posion 1 Sven which gave them a tool to deal with the late game Anti-Mage, in case the game went there. Liquid had the last pick here, and for some reason, they went with Sniper. Now I am no Kuroky, but this pick was very questionable. Anti-Mage was their win condition and they needed to hold out till he came online. Viper would have been the perfect pick here. Viper destroys TA in lane and can effectively kite Sven. But Liquid went with the Sniper and game 4 turned out to be the shortest of them all with Secret running over Liquid.