Cover image source: EPICENTER
It’s been a hell of a season for Team Secret who have established themselves at the top of the food chain in the Dota ecosystem. With wins in the Chongqing and the MDL Paris Disneyworld Majors, a second place finish in Kuala Lumpur, Secret have managed to win the DPC this season. Along with that, the team has won 3 ESL One trophies, in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Birmingham, leaving experts and fans with little doubt as to who the best team in the world is.
However, a brilliant season might not be what teams want to go to TI with and time and again top contenders have fallen short of claiming the Aegis on the grandest stage of Dota. Secret themselves have experienced this in 2015, when the star-studded roster of Puppey, Kuroky, s4, Arteezy and Zai fell short at TI5. Having dominated the tournaments prior to TI5, Secret were the favorites going into the tournament, but infamously lost to VP in the lower brackets and were eliminated.
Closer to recent times, Virtus Pro, who won the DPC last season after 4 Major and 1 Minor win also faced a similar problem at TI8. It seemed as if all the teams had prepared for them specifically, and as VP found themselves figured out, the likes of PSG.LGD were able to beat them convincingly in the upper bracket. VP survived against much lower ranked teams for a while but were ultimately eliminated at the hands of EG, a team who had basically formed their team barely a couple of months before TI.
Going into TI9, Secret continue to be heavy favourites alongside the likes of VP, Liquid, Vici Gaming and EG. However, their dominant run will mean that there is a massive bull’s eye painted on their backs. With Secret not playing in the qualifiers or any other tournaments till TI commences, they will have an opportunity to recuperate and prepare for the biggest tournament of their lives. Already with having crossed the prize pool for TI8, this is set to be the biggest TI ever and all eyes will be on the top teams heading into the tournament.