The Shanghai Major has at long last kicked off, with Group A’s arguably most anticipated match (not so) arguably being CDEC vs Secret.
Puppey+4 achieved a 2-1 victory, despite losing the first game pretty convincingly.
Game 1: Secret opted for an unusual safelane Bristleback, paired with Dazzle, which makes a quite good combo. The beast of this patch, Outworld Devourer, was the choice for mid, as well as an offlane Nature’s Prophet and a roaming Tusk. On the other side of the river, CDEC went for a Faceless Void+Enchantress as a 3-4 position pair, a Puck mid, and an oldschool Sven+Lina safelane.
In this very slow paced game, both teams traded farm for a good 12-13 mins, and it was only then that first blood was drawn. This would obviously be OK for CDEC’s lineup, with sven topping the CS and net worth chart for the whole game despite getting picked off a few times. Secret however, really needed some early pickoffs with their Prophet + Tusk combo and they just couldn’t find an opening. This match was pretty straightforward afterwards; Secret showed some potential of moving around the map and getting some kills, but when team fights happened, CDEC got the upper hand pretty easily.
The Chinese had the obvious edge on team fight control and burst. A Chronosphere on top of anyone paired with Impetus and Lina’s burst equals a very dead target, as long as Dazzle doesn’t get his grave off, and that’s where the Dagon Puck comes into play. OD was the primary target, and W33 couldn’t do much in this game. Generally, in cases like this, Secret would prefer evade team fighting for some time, split push with Prophet and their carries and win late game. And this is where the Bristleback pick failed, since he’s more of a mid-game fighter, plus he was countered pretty hard by Sven’s +20 AoE armour and Void’s Time Dilation.
Game 2: Secret decided to go for the heavy team fight now, with Puppey’s infamous Enigma paired with Tidehunter and the dreaded Invoker, and a Vengeful Spirit+Clinkz for the safelane. CDEC chose a quite greedy 4-core lineup, with Enchantress+Faceless Void making their appearance again, along with a Weaver and Razor, leaving poor Rubick supporting alone.
What may have seemed surprising for many, it was Void who went mid against Invoker, and this was actually a good choice. Void is a Hero with high base armour and HP, and a natural poor-man’s shield carrier, so he can stand against Invoker’s right clicks easily, and his low manacost Time Walk can make sure he doesn’t get harassed away from the lane. CDEC pressured their offlane with Rubick + Weaver and Enchantress rotating, resulting in an underfarmed Clinkz.
On the other hand though, with Invoker still topping the net worth and Puppey reminding us that Enigma is the fastest jungler by far, Secret didn’t really fall behind. A good rotation in CDEC’s safelane made sure Razor was also shut down a bit, while giving Tidehunter the small opening he needed. After that, it was CDEC who didn’t have an answer to the 5-man death ball and paid for their greed. 3 team fights later, GG was called.
Special note: Puppey must be an alien.
Game 3: With their beloved Faceless Void, CDEC decided to pair a Lina+Clinkz+Disruptor combo, along with a roaming Night Stalker. Secret went for the alien’s Enigma and Misery’s Tidehunter again, and 2 of 6.86’s pub favourites, Invoker and Spectre, plus a Lion.
While the first two games were mostly decided draft-wise, the last one was on more even terms. CDEC had a better laning stage, with their safe and offlane having more farm than their counterparts, and even Lina doing slightly better than Invoker. After a succesful rotation and a Roshan, CDEC tried to push highground early, and almost succeeded, forcing Tide’s buyback.
Both teams had great team fight capabilities, so proper initiation was the key to victory. After that push, Secret’s gameplay went up a notch. After a great 5v5 clash, next Roshan was their’s, and from that point onward CDEC seemed unable to react at all.
While both teams had potent picks, I feel Spectre’s ability to reveal every opponent before a teamfight is not something to be ignored; additionally, perhaps CDEC underestimated Invoker a bit too much. I don’t believe Earth Spirit is worth as a ban over Invoker, who can be as good an initiator as anyone, but with carry potential as well. His counterpart in this game, Lina, couldn’t be nearly as effective, even after having a better start. Secret played their cards right and came out on top.