It would be an understatement to say that European giants Team Secret are dominating the Dota 2 landscape. In what many consider as the strongest region, Team Secret has claimed one victory after the other, winning eight premier championships in a row, which is unprecedented in Dota 2 history.
This is an absolutely phenomenal record, with the team displaying the hallmarks of champions in the process. Their winning streak has started a conversation about whether it’s possible for one team’s dominance to lead to a stale overall scene.
Can one team simply win too much? How has Team Secret’s winning streak changed Dota 2?
Team Secret’s Unprecedented Winning Streak
Dota 2 has never really seen one team dominate a stretch of tournaments the way Team Secret has. Even during the heydays Alliance’s TI3 roster, or the 2017-18 Virtus.Pro roster, they would still drop games and lose tournaments occasionally.
- According to DatDota, Since April 24 (which was when they began their winning streak) Team Secret has an 86.26% win rate, with 113 wins and 18 losses.
- The team has only dropped to the lower brackets once (at ESL One Birmingham 2020) over the course of eight tournaments and they have not dropped a single game in the Grand Finals of any tournament during this time period.
- Team Secret has truly become a Goliath amidst the Dota 2 scene.
David vs Goliath Battles
The very fact that the Team Secret Goliath exists, leads to some amazing storylines which have taken place over the past few months. The battles between Team Secret and OG in the Upper Bracket finals of the Omega League and the OGA DotaPit S3 were spectacular to watch. Team Unique’s unlikely triumph over Team Secret at ESL One Birmingham 2020 - Online: Europe & CIS to deny them the record of the most wins in 100 games put them on the map for many viewers.
When teams lose to Team Secret, they can still walk away with more than when they started. In the recently concluded OGA DotaPit Seaon 3: Europe/CIS tournament, OG acted as the possible usurpers to the throne in the Winner Bracket Finals, but their story quickly evolved into how close they came to doing so — not that they failed. Before that, in their very first series after their reshuffle, VP Prodigy walked away with a defeat, but they did so with more attention from the Dota 2 fans by simply taking one game off Team Secret. All these examples have one fundamental element in common: their runs were emboldened by going up against Team Secret.
Team Secret has raised the bar for the rest of the playing field, to the point where their opponents are lauded by their own fans for bold attempts to take down the Goliath!
So is Team Secret’s Dominance Really a Bad Thing For Dota 2?
To put it simply, Team Secret’s dominance will push the game to a new level. The very fact that teams must evolve and push themselves to a higher tier in order to stand a chance against them raises the quality of the overall Dota 2 scene. Objectively, this is good for fans who want to see the highest levels of gameplay.
However, not all fans want to watch a game where a team plays perfectly, makes no mistake, and gives no opportunity for the other team to win. Yes, it's beautiful to see Dota choreographed so well at the highest level like poetry in motion. But it really cannot hold a candle to watching games where two equally matched teams go back-and-forth where no one knows who will win the series until the very last moments.
Fans are seemingly bored of the fact that Team Secret manages to come out of every tournament as the victors. It is understandable as it really is heartbreaking to see your favorite teams, perform well in the initial phases of the tournament, build momentum, and then get absolutely crushed.
For example, in the recently concluded OGA DotaPit Season 3: Europe/CIS, The revamped VP Prodigy squad looked strong, taking one game off Puppey’s squad in their Upper Bracket match. They then made it through the entirety of the lower brackets of the tournament beating out Nigma, Team Liquid, Natus Vincere, and Alliance to finally have another go at Team Secret.
Then they lost anyway.
It wasn’t even the loss that hurt for VP Prodigy fans, it was the manner in which they were demolished. 3-0 read the scoreline in the Grand Finals, just like it has for each of the eight tournaments that Team Secret has won.
That's how it has been for European teams, in recent tournaments. Sure, teams can scratch them and maybe even make them bleed in the Group Stages or even in the Playoffs but Team Secret always lands the crushing death blow in the Grand Finals.
At this point, fans aren’t even bothered to muster hope for the teams going up against them in the Grand Finals. They’re just hoping that it isn’t a 3-0 massacre. This dominance has unsurprisingly created a sect of fans who actively root against them.
The Team Secret Dynasty
It’s not too far-fetched to suggest that the whole point of esports, is to win. So Team Secret is simply doing what they’re meant to do, just far more consistently than any other Dota 2 team preceding them. By doing so, they’ve become this force who simply cannot be usurped. They’ve become a dynasty.
The storylines surrounding Team Secret are now beginning to shift toward just how long this dynasty will remain intact. The very idea of a team being on the top of the Dota 2 scene over the course of eight consecutive tournaments spread out over the course of a five-month stretch should baffle viewers. The fact that Team Secret continues to improve despite all that success and a forever changing game is perhaps the more impressive aspect.
Across the world, esports dynasties have helped their respective titles more than hurt them. The CS:GO Esports scene has never been more popular than when Astralis was an all-conquering entity. Fans and spectators want to see narratives develop and greatness personified, and there's no storyline in the world of esports more exciting than an unbeatable champion right up on top with their rivals doing everything they can to knock them off their perch.
But make no mistake, nothing lasts forever. All dynasties crumble eventually, and when it does so it leaves something behind for the rest. This Team Secret dynasty is truly one of a kind in the world of Dota 2 esports, and it’s not certain we will get to see anything else like it ever again. We might not even see it being toppled. But the anticipation of that moment is enough to drive months of interest to the game.