Round 1 of the modified swiss-format of ESL One Germany 2020 came to a close yesterday and the results were rather expected. The only surprising outcome that shocked everybody was Team Nigma losing 2-0 to a lesser-known CIS team, Yellow Submarine.
Yellow Submarine Pull Off an Upset
Back in 2015, Yellow Submarine (YeS) gained a lot of publicity after it won The International 2015 European Open Qualifiers. The team could not qualify to the main tournament and after a string of bad performances, YeS disbanded in December 2016. After that, the team was now formed with the likes of Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov and Vitaliy "so bad" Oshmankevich to compete at ESL One Germany 2020 qualifiers. They had a decent run throughout the qualifiers stage and booked a spot in the main tournament. However, nobody expected them to take down a top tier European squad, Team Nigma, in their first series of the group stages. Other top-seeded teams like Alliance, OG and Team Secret had easily managed to secure their series versus these weaker teams.
In Game 1, Team Nigma had to, unfortunately, play without Maroun “GH” Merhej and a stand-in had to be called in at the last minute. Team Nigma was already short of the expertise of their esteemed captain Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi as he continues to recover from an arm injury.
The final pick by Team Nigma in Game 1, which was a classic Meepo for Aliwi "w33" Omar absolutely created a lot of hype amongst the viewers. The twitch chat went berserk and everybody expected Team Nigma to end this game easily. Miracle- played the anchor role in this game with a Void Spirit with MinD_ContRoL on his signature Nature’s Prophet.
All the cores in the game had a decent laning phase, leaving Miracle- who went 0-4 in the first 14 minutes. But in classic w33’s Meepo way, he outplayed YeS in a failed gank attempt by them, securing a triple kill and the aegis at the 14th-minute mark. With an early push heavy lineup with Nature’s Prophet, Chen and Meepo, Nigma tried to breach the high ground at just 17 minutes but shorter respawn times with some good plays by YeS led to four hero deaths for team Nigma. The game kept dragging after it with YeS’ cores farming more efficiently than Team Nigma’s. Though Meepo maintained the top spot in the networth lead chart for a long time, YeS always managed to kill him off first in the teamfights, ignoring other heroes who barely dealt any considerable damage. Gradually, the cores of Faceless Void and Kunkaa for YeS grew a lot stronger and Team Nigma realised they could no longer take any head-on fights. They continuously tried to stall the game with split pushes and creep cutting but YeS always managed to find and kill them. The game went all the distance to 55 minutes as YeS sealed the game off with a much superior late game draft. Their execution also seemed on point throughout the game.
In Game 2, Team Nigma looked stronger with GH’s return and everybody thought that it was just one bad game and they would come back to close out the series 2-1.
YeS opened up with same two opening picks from the last game in the form of Faceless Void and Enchantress. Team Nigma drafted an offlane Earthshaker for MinD_ContRoL and a Void Spirit for w33, bringing him back to the anchor role. Nigma picked up Phantom Lancer for Miracle- as the last pick which according to the casters and analysts was an easy PL game. Yellow Submarine won all the 3 lanes, picking up a 5k lead at 14 minutes with its cores topping the networth chart. But Nigma pulled the game back into their advantage picking off heroes with an early Earthshaker blink and Mirana combo while Miracle- farmed effectively. Two over-zealous fights by Yes around the mid lane and Roshan Pit cost them a lot as Team Nigma accelerated their lead to 10k and secured the aegis for Miracle-. YeS avoided any sort of teamfight with Nigma for the duration of the Aegis and then took a chaotic but victorious brawl for them at their Triangle. Faceless Void managed to secure a triple kill ending Miracle’s 8x Godlike streak. W33 bought back into that teamfight after getting initially caught in the Chronosphere but could not manage to accomplish a lot as he cliffed himself for a significant time. Team Nigma kept losing fights after that as the Phantom Lancer died a couple of times without buyback. Faceless Void had all the answers to him with Aghs and Battlefury, combined with Cataclysm from Invoker. YeS eventually closed out the game at 44 minutes and took the series 2-0.
This loss of Team Nigma comes out as an overwhelming surprise to all Nigma fans. They are certainly starting to miss the leadership and in-game calling of captain KuroKy considering their most recent games. But they still have some of the most skilled players in the region and will look to come back stronger in the second round where they face Tempo Esports on October 9.
On the other hand, Yellow Submarine has had a spectacular start to their tournament campaign dismantling Team Nigma. Faceless Void seems to be the go-to hero for their carry player Yatoro and teams will certainly consider banning it in the coming days. Their next matchup is against the conquerors of European/CIS Dota 2, Team Secret. It is going to be a very tough series for the CIS squad and will be interesting to see if they even take one game off them.