On Saturday, May 10, we saw the games of the MDL Disneyland Major Upper Bracket Semifinals play out. Some real giants of the Dota 2 professional scene clashed head-to-head as OG took on Team Secret and Ninjas in Pyjamas took on Evil Geniuses.
There were upsets, dominations and marathon games in an incredibly exciting Upper Bracket second round at the MDL Disneyland Major. Stars of the game shone bright and teams came together when it counted to make for some truly exciting Dota.
Before we break down the games, we just want to mention how great it is to see entertainment giants like Disney taking note of the esports scene. By hosting a Major, Disney is sending a clear message to the esports world as it takes real steps towards the mainstream. It’s great for the game of Dota 2 and great for esports everywhere. Fantastic stuff all around.
OG vs Team Secret
In the first game of the MDL Disneyland Major Upper Bracket Semifinals, TI18 champions OG went head-to-head with one of the scariest teams in the sport at the moment: Team Secret. Despite winning TI18, OG would not find Team Secret a pushover. Fresh from their first place finish at The Chongqing Major, Secret has been making real waves in the pro scene. Under the experienced captaincy of Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, they dropped only two games in the entire tournament.
Both teams start the game by throwing around some of the excellent new chat wheel lines. A crowd favorite was the new Ceeeb chat line from the new 2019 Battle Pass, which was spammed out in the opening minutes, much to everyone’s delight.
Team Secret pulls out an early lead in both kills and CS in game 1. A key hero in this process is Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat’s Earthshaker, a roaming support specialist. YapzOr’s Earthshaker is present for 8 of the first 9 kills, all before the 9 minute mark.
Despite OG being able to secure a few kills in return, Secret sits on a commanding 6k net worth lead by minute 16. Despite both this and a healthy 17 – 9 kill advantage, Secret are still unable to secure any objectives. This is thanks largely to Sébastian “7ckingMad” Debs playing as the Treant Protector. Despite not making his presence felt in team fights so far, Ceb is able to utilize Living Armor. This helps to keep all of OG’s tier 1 towers healthy.
Despite a spirited resistance from OG, Secret begin to capitalize on their early advantage. Secret secure Roshan at the 23-minute mark. Then, in one of the most talked-about moments on Twitter at the time, YapzOr’s Earthshaker lands a huge Echoslam to turn the game firmly in Secrets favor.
The teams dance around the dire jungle for a time with the occasional skirmish, but eventually Secret push into OG’s base. Another great Echoslam from YapzOr combined with an unkillable Juggernaut proves too much for OG. GG is called at 37 minutes.
OG’s draft at the start of game 2 is an unpopular one for many fans. Twitter user Agatinei Cosmin tweeted “What was that? are they rolling the dice when picking heroes?” and user Ivan Meidika Kurnia simply tweeted “WHAT’S WITH THE DRAFT?????!!!!!!”
OG experimented with a three core and two roaming hero setup, but even panelists were confused. Secret, by contrast, opt for a much more conventional setup. This includes the YapzOr Earthshaker which was used to such devastating effect in game one.
The panelists made reference to Game of Thrones, calling the matchup Oberyn vs the Mountain. OG’s speed and maneuverability around the map is not to be underestimated. However, a single mistake by OG and Secret can capitalize, as OG’s lineup does not play well from behind.
Earthshaker makes his presence felt immediately as game 2 begins, propelling Secret to a 6 – 1 kill advantage by the third minute. Despite this, OG begin to work their way back into the game, securing crucial kills towards 10 minutes and causing the audience at the event to begin chanting “OG, OG, OG!”.
However, a big exchange at the Dire mid tower shortly afterward is the last of the positive action OG will see. A kill by Ceb’s Nature’s Prophet against Puppy’s Oracle puts OG on 7 kills vs Secret’s 12. But for a kill at the 15-minute mark onto Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg’s Sand King, OG would not find another kill for the rest of the game.
Ceb is able to stay at top net worth for a few minutes more. However, he is overtaken at minute 13 by both Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng and Michał “Nisha” Jankowski, playing as Monkey King and Medusa respectively. Secret continues to scour the map, securing kills on every lane and slowly tightening the net around OG’s base.
By minute 25, Secret holds a massive 20k net worth advantage and are 41 – 8 on kills. The first and final Roshan goes the way of Secret shortly afterward and they begin the base siege. After just 28 minutes, OG calls GG and Team Secret moves on to the Upper Bracket Finals.
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Evil Geniuses
The second game of the MDL Disneyland Major Upper Bracket Semifinals is a chance for arguably one of the best Dota 2 players at the moment to stretch his legs. Second only to his EG teammate Artour “Arteezy” Babaev in the America’s MMR rankings at the time of writing, Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan is a real star of the game.
Ninjas in Pyjamas are not without their own talent, however. Just one month prior they finished first in the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019. This afforded them automatic qualification for The International 2019.
Coming as a surprise to even the casters, EG draft a SumaiL Morphling. This would mark the first time ever that SumaiL has played the hero in a competitive match.
By comparison the OG and Secret’s series, it takes a long time for first blood to arrive. It eventually goes the way of NiP when Neta “33” Shapira playing as Nature’s Prophet secures the kill against Arteezy’s Drow Ranger.
The game is considerably slower paced than the other matches of the day so far. There are only 34 kills split 19 – 15 in favor of NiP by minute 40. NiP hold a kill and tower advantage at this point. However, a Roshan kill for SumaiL secures him the Aegis and marks a turning point in the game.
After a series of only partially successful pushes, EG decides to change tactics. They utilize masterful control of the Radiant top jungle to prevent NiP’s push-heavy draft from leaving the base. SumaiL’s Morphling proves decisive in almost every fight, proving unkillable by NiP’s line up.
The game culminates in an exciting base-race, with both teams attacking each other’s ancients simultaneously.
However, NiP could not keep pace with the bonus damage offered by EG’s Drow Ranger and their ancient fell first. Evil Geniuses take game one, and Sumail, proving why he is one of the best on the scene right now, finishes on 19/0/7 in his first ever competitive game as Morphling.
Once again, we see the Earthshaker drafted in a competitive game. EG’s Andreas Franck “Cr1t-” Nielsen picks up the hero for the fourth consecutive competitive match of the day. This includes the two games the hero was picked when OG faced Secret.
Immediately Cr1t and EG’s Gustav “s4” Magnusson cut the Dire safe lane wave, making it more difficult for NiP’s Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaar playing as Sven to secure last hits under the tower. This also ensures that 100% of the creep gold and experience goes to EG’s offlane heroes.
Despite taking an early level and CS lead, Adrian “Fata” Trinks playing as Razor gives up a few kills in the mid lane thanks to rotations from, you guessed it, the Earthshaker. Combined with the damage output from SumaiL’s Sniper, EG secure some important kills early on.
At the 20 minute mark, EG posses great map control and have both a kill and minor net worth advantage. Despite the map being even in terms of towers, EG certainly seems to have the momentum. However, a fight around the Roshan pit at the 25 minute mark proves to be EG’s undoing, as NiP cross the river for what seems like the first time all game and initiate with a blink in on their Sven, securing 3 kills and the Aegis.
The two teams trade kills and a couple of outer towers, neither able to capitalize on any momentum. A triple kill for Ace on the Sven around the 38 minute mark secures the second Aegis for NiP and at minute 41, they finally breach EG’s base, taking a full mid lane of barracks and a couple of kills to boot.
Despite some brave rat Dota from Arteezy’s Lycan, NiP is not to be denied. A final push down the top lane into the base secures NiP another brace of crucial kills and EG calls gg on game 2 just before the 45 minute mark. The match is going the distance to game 3.
The final game of the MDL Disneyland Major Upper Bracket Semifinals. Either Ninjas in Pyjamas or Evil Geniuses will advance on to the MDL Disneyland Major Upper Bracket Final to face Team Secret.
EG draft an excellent team fight line up, with a Sand King, Enigma and Leshrac. Again, however, it’s NiP who secures first blood against Tal “Fly” Aizik’s Bane. This time it’s without the help of an Earthshaker as, for the first time in the day’s games, it has not been drafted by either team.
The first tower falls at the 10-minute mark, going the way of EG. A 4 man push down the mid lane gives them an early advantage. Not to be outdone, Ace’s Wraith King is able to farm up an incredibly quick 14-minute Radiance. By minute 17, NiP turns their momentum into a tier 3 top lane tower siege, removing 25% of the tower’s HP before being forced back.
The net worth advantage by this stage of the game is commanding in NiP’s favor. They sit in a 5k gold advantage while EG is missing two full lanes of outer towers. In addition, the Ace completes his Blink Dagger, making his initiation a scary prospect. At minute 21, NiP secure an uncontested Roshan kill and look to press their impressive advantage.
A full 9 minutes after Ace completes his Radiance, Arteezy on the Spectre finishes his. With the Spectre looking in better shape to participate in fights, EG invades the Radiant jungle. They win a great 3 – 2 trade, taking out the Night Stalker, Wraith King and Enchantress. All this while securing important kills for their Spectre.
At 31 minutes in, NiP takes the last of EG’s outer towers, leaving just their base defenses. All this takes place during a heated exchange at the Roshan pit. Both teams trade kills buy no one comes away with the Aegis, and NiP maintains a 7k net worth advantage. Two minutes later, NiP takes a second uncontested Roshan kill.
A huge, roaming exchange of kills starting at minute 36 marks a change in the dynamic of the game. While both teams are able to secure some kills, the exchange heavily favors EG. Meanwhile, left unchecked, SumaiL on the Leshrac pushes the bottom lane of creeps all the way into NiP’s base, taking the lane of barracks in the process. This cuts NiP’s net worth advantage down to just 2k.
Another big team fight in the Radiant top jungle at minute 39 sees EG turn the net worth in their favor and press their newfound advantage into NiP’s base. With just one lane of barracks left, it takes just one more team fight in EG’s favor to force NiP to conceed. NiP’s Martin “Saksa” Sazdov calls GG in the 42nd minute, sending EG through to the MDL Disneyland Major Upper Bracket Finals.
Phew. We told you the MDL Disneyland Major Upper Bracket Semifinals had some marathons. All the teams played some exemplary Dota, and it feels like the stars for each team really showed up. This may only be a Major, but the quality of the Dota on-show was world class.
The International is right around the corner. If that tournament offers Dota on the level we’re seeing at this Major, then we’re in for a treat indeed.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattyMead2006.
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