Team Secret crowned Champions of the Shanghai Major
Team Secret are the named Champions of the Shanghai Major, and well deserved runner ups are Team Liquid. This breaks the chain of no professional player getting two Valve Championships as Clement 'Puppey' Ivanov is the first to break this curse. Let’s have a closer look at what exactly went on in the Grand Finals of the first Winter Major.
The drafting from game one was interesting to say the least, with both teams going with some comfort picks of the tournament. Looking into Team Secret, it’s clear that they wanted control, picking heroes, with the disables and nukes.
That being said, the laning stage heavily relied on Clement 'Puppey' Ivanov’s Enchantress rotations to secure two, if not all three, of the lanes for his team. On the other hand, Team Liquid went for a more teamfight orientated draft, picking up the Phoenix, Void, and Witch Doctor combination, paired up with the mid Invoker, and the execution of the Necrophos. For Liquid’s draft to work, they had to get as much vision as possible early game, and allow for their cores to farm and to have any sort of impact mid to late game.
However, things did not go how they intended, and soon found themselves, dropping behind on farm and experience, due to Puppey’s excellent rotations. Mid-game made viewers and casters believe that Secret had the game in the bag. To everyone’s surprise Team Liquid took one to two good team fights with incredible initiations from Ivan 'MinD_ContRoL' Borislavov with the Chronosphere which showed signs of a comeback for Team Liquid.
Alas to no avail, Team Liquid fell, due to Team Secret just bagging too big of a lead early and mid-game, meaning that their heroes were simply too tanky for Team Liquid to take down easily.
Coming into game two, the drafts change up quite a bit, Liquid this time going for slightly more early game heroes and with a bit more early control than before. Team Secret however, went for a more frontline draft, with their cores being able to jump out and initiate whenever they please without having to worry about them falling too quickly. Ursa, Wyvern, Lion, Death Prophet, and Dark Seer, sounds like a scary team to fight into or even get initiated by but nonetheless, Liquid spawn into the game high and mighty with no pressure from the previous game.
Straight off the bat, it was evident that the matchup was a lot more equivalent than before, with both teams being very cautious as they were both aware that one small mistake can cause a snowball effect. This time, it was Team Liquid who seemed to have the edge in terms of teamfights, and come out on top during the early and mid-game. As the game pushes into mid-late game, Secret really started to shine and display the fact that they were not going to go down without a fight. Winning a couple of 5v5 fights, it brought Team Secret straight back into the game.
However, time and time again the Roar into Sunstrike combo of Liquid proved to be too much, giving them a slight advantage over the fights as they were able to catch out the playmaker Dark Seer before most of the fights. With the help of perfect position on the side of Team Liquid, every Rosh attempt made by Team Secret proved to be worthless as the Ursa would usually die straight away again after dying from the initial fight.
In the end, the push from Team Liquid just proved to be too much, allowing for Liquid to force fights elsewhere while simultaneously push towers making sure they won’t lose the momentum they gained during the early and mid-stages of the game.
Game three was a critical game for the side of Team Liquid. Being two games behind would put unimaginable amounts of pressure on the team for the final two games. So to make sure they had calm nerves they had to make a bold move, and so they did. Opening up with OD and IO. Starting with a new couple threw Team Secret off a little, but not enough to rattle them. Following the first duo, Liquid were the ones to pick up Lion and Tidehunter this time, and finish the draft stage with the pick-up of Tiny.
The draft of Team Liquid showed that they wanted more damage output from their cores than before, and with some sort of defensive style, with big nukes from OD and Tiny. Secret responded to their draft by an odd draft of their own, selecting Nature’s Prophet, Invoker, Doom, Clinkz, and Disruptor. Clearly, Team Secret were targeting the Tiny-Io combo with the drafting of hard-counters Clinkz, and Disruptor, so they can control the much feared combination. Both teams having such aggressive line-ups meant that there were a lot of fights early, and they were make or break kind of fights, as winning early would map out how they would do the rest of the game.
But with the pushing and fighting power of Clinkz, Secret just won most fights, and pushed towers every chance they got, therefore not even giving the Wisp-Tiny combo to shine in their mid to late game stage. Once the BKB’s started coming out on the side of Secret there was pretty much little to none that Liquid could do, and Secret just ended and pushed towards victory.
Game Four of the series showed both teams giving it their all in terms of effort and concentration, but with Team Secret in the lead, Team Liquid had to deal with the added pressure of it possibly being their final game. Team Secret opened up their draft with the pick-up of Lion, and Doom, followed by Beastmaster, Slark and a surprise pick of Windranger. Again it was seen that Secret wanted a team that could control, while their cores with high damage per second just bursted down their enemies. Team Liquids response to this was to have Invoker middle, and have a roaming Tusk support alongside Dazzle, with offlane Void, and an unusual pick of Drow Ranger.
This game was very quiet in the early stage, with both teams being extremely cautious of their surroundings, making sure not to give away too many kills, or to give away their positioning. With only two kills going in the way of Secret for the first nine minutes of the game. It was pretty much crucial for Team Liquid to get as many teamfight victories as possible if they were going to keep up in farm and experience with the side of Team Secret, but they were simply not able to do so, due to Team Secret not wanting to fight early, and being very careful and passive. With not many fights taking place, Team Liquid just fell further behind again as time progressed and soon found themselves playing against a really farmed Slark, and Doom.
Unable to hold up the game any longer, after losing several team fights in a row, due to perfect gameplay from Team Secret, the game finished without even hitting the 30 min mark making Team Secret victorious, and the Champions of the Shanghai Winter Major.