Euro Qualifier winner Team Secret hoping change brings opportunities as TI looms
With this year’s iteration of The International fast approaching, it seems appropriate to offer fans both new and old a breakdown of who it is they’re going to be watching in Seattle. This series of posts will each be dedicated to one of the 18 teams that will be participating in The International 2017, with the aim of giving readers a brief overview of the teams, their position coming into TI, and what their expectations might be. Please note that these posts will not contain a comprehensive history of the teams, nor will they go into minute detail for each of the players. There are more thorough breakdowns for teams and players available out there, a la SirActionSlacks’ “TI Down Low” series. These posts aim to provide something more akin to an “in a nutshell” level of information. We move on from the directly invited teams and focus now on the qualifier teams, beginning with the winner of the European Regional Qualifier – Team Secret.
Team Secret comes to The International 2017 via the European Qualifier, having posted an 8-1 group stage record to earn its spot. Team Secret has recently made changes to its roster, deciding to shake things up after a poor performance at the Kiev Major in April. Support player YapzOr only officially joined the squad in May of this year, and since bringing him on the team has been playing at an exceptionally high level. One reason for this success stems from the presence of the team’s leader. Every team needs strong leadership, and Team Secret has that in spades with team captain Puppey. Puppey is one of the most experienced and accomplished players in the history of Dota 2. A veteran of not only the Dota 2, but also the original DotA scene, Puppey is not stranger to success at the highest level of competition. A member of the legendary Na’Vi squad that won the first International in 2011, Puppey has been searching for a historic second TI win ever since. With Puppey at the helm, Team Secret will be a force to be reckoned with in Seattle.
Team Secret has been on a tear coming into TI, and there is no reason to think that the team will not be able to maintain this level of play in Seattle. Though Puppey’s drafting sometimes drifts towards the unconventional, this squad has shown a level of skill and flexibility necessary to make those strategies yield results. Those unconventional drafts and strategies could be the key to a deep TI run and a legitimate shot at the Aegis of Champions for Team Secret, as teams may have difficulties adjusting to unorthodox play styles.
Team Secret’s new lineup has seen a lot of success since the roster change, posting a series of strong finishes and encouraging performances. Aside from a single setback at the Manila Masters, the team has put forward results that one would expect from a top tier squad. The team’s first event post roster change was a 3rd place finish in the Mr. Cat Invitational Europe, where the team fell to fellow TI participants Virtus Pro and Team Empire. Secret then put up a strong performance in the EU Division of DreamLeague Season 7 with a 10-4 overall record that qualified the team for the LAN Finals. Secret dropped the ball at the Manila Masters, losing back to back series against Newbee and Team NP to drop out of the tournament. However, the European squad has recovered well and finished its tournament season strong. Secret placed 3rd/4th at EPICENTER 2017, winning series against OG, Team Liquid, and Invictus Gaming before losing to Evil Geniuses in the Semifinals. The team followed up this performance with a 2nd place finish at Dota Summit 7, and ended the tournament season by winning the European Qualifier for TI7.
Team Secret’s recent changes put the team in a very strong position to succeed at TI. Not only has the team been performing well in the months following the roster shakeup, the change gives opponents a smaller sample size to choose from when trying to analyze Secret’s play style and strategies. While the teams at TI are likely to have done their due diligence in terms of scouting opponents, Puppey’s penchant for unpredictability and the team’s flexibility will always make it a threat. Secret’s style is a double edged sword though, as the team is likely to live and die by those unconventional strategies.