The Corsair DreamLeague Season 9 Minor ended with Team Secret defending their title in dominant fashion. But the Europe-based international mix of players didn’t just win, though. Instead, they made a statement out of the entire tournament, winning every single game handily. Not a single team could even come close to beating Team Secret as they out-drafted and outplayed everyone with off-meta picks and precise teamwork and coordination.
Team Secret’s huge win wasn’t the only thing that we can take away from the Corsair DreamLeague Season 9 Minor, however.
The Return of Team Secret
— Team Secret (@teamsecret) March 25, 2018
Before everything else, it’s important that we welcome back Team Secret. After having spent December and January as arguably the best Dota 2 team in the world, they came back down to earth with a Top 4 finish at ESL One Genting before falling short of a Top 4 finish at both ESL One Katowice and the Bucharest Major. But now, they’re back.
Team Secret turned the Corsair DreamLeague Season 9 Minor into their playground. They beat each of their opponents down to a pulp and won every single game without much of a problem. They even pulled off some off-meta picks, from running Kunkka mid with Yeik ‘MidOne‘ Nai Zheng (twice) and picking Terrorblade for Yazied ‘YapzOr‘ Jaradat, among many other things. By the time the tournament had ended, Team Secret had picked a total of 24 unique heroes in 9 games. Marcus ‘Ace’ Hoelgaard led the team with 8 unique heroes played in 9 games.
Team Secret now head to the DAC 2018 Major back in full form as they try to take down the back-to-back Major champions Virtus.Pro and the reigning TI champions Team Liquid.
Team Liquid Are a Special Team
The International rings acquired!
— Team Liquid (@TeamLiquid) March 25, 2018
No offense to Team Secret or Virtus.Pro, but the reigning TI champions are something special. Case in point, at the Corsair DreamLeague Season 9 Minor, they had a very strong case for being the second-best team in the tournament with an obviously rusty Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi as their hard carry and their coach Lee ‘Heen‘ Seung Gon as their position five support.
For a team playing without their 20-year-old wunderkind in Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi, Team Liquid looked pretty damn good. And though they “only” managed to extend their streak of Top 4 finishes by notching 3rd place, it’s easy to see how welcoming back Miracle- at the DAC 2018 will only serve to do the reigning TI champions good.
Take a gander, folks. Even though Team Liquid are not as off-meta as the TI6 champions Wings Gaming, they’re a unique team. If they ever do disband (and we’re hoping they stick together for years), it’ll be a while before we see a team as consistently dominant as they have been for the better part of the past two years.
EternalEnVy’s Gamble is Paying Off
At the start of the season, critics alike jumped on Jacky ‘EternalEnVy‘ Mao. After all, EternalEnVy gave up what was essentially an easy pass in North America, with arguably only Evil Geniuses as the only consistent team in the region, to play in Southeast Asia, where he had to contend with a number of competitive Tier 2 and 3 teams, as well as the incumbent powerhouses Mineski and TNC Pro Team. That his team failed to muster up good results only made the criticism go worse. But now, more than half-way through the season, it seems that his gamble to move to another region has paid off.
Fnatic are arguably the best Dota 2 team in Southeast Asia right now. TNC Pro Team are good, but they lack the versatility that comes with playing a more experienced, foreign captain. Meanwhile, the veterans of Mineski seem like their best days are already well behind them; Chai ‘Mushi‘ Yee Fung and Kam ‘NaNa‘ Boon Seng have seriously been underperforming for months now.
As of the moment, Fnatic are a few hundred points shy of a spot in the Top 8. They’re currently in 10th place with 884 points, just below Mineski who have 900 points in total for the season. With Natus Vincere struggling, and OG already out of the race for a direct invite to TI8, Fnatic only needs to keep performing just as well as they have to sneak into the Top 8 and get a free pass to The International 8.
When Sticking to Your Guns Don’t Work Out
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Team Secret and Fnatic’s success at the Corsair DreamLeague Season 9 Minor, it’s that the Dota 2 meta still allows for some form of experimentation and off-meta picks. The ability to keep opponents guessing during the draft and play heroes out of nowhere makes a lot of difference when two teams of equal skill levels face off.
Newbee are no doubt a great team. They’re probably the best Dota 2 team in China, just a step above ViCi Gaming and VGJ.Thunder. But their tendency to stick only with a handful of heroes, especially for their supports, has often hurt them, especially when up against Tier 1 teams.
This probably won’t hurt Newbee much in the coming months. They’re currently in 4th place with 2,220 DPC points. With five Majors and two Minors scheduled between now and the end of the season, Newbee have a good chance of finishing in the Top 8 if they keep on placing in the Top 4, which they have so far this season. However, if they want to win at The International 8, they’ll need to incorporate some unpredictability in their drafts.
paiN Gaming looked like they were ready to wrestle with the best in the world after placing second at WESG 2017 and looking competitive for most of their series against an incomplete Team Liquid squad. But after losing to a struggling OG squad 2-0 in a series that did not even last an hour, it was probably premature to call the Brazilians ready.
In terms of heroes, with Team Secret and Team Liquid often going off-meta, the Corsair DreamLeague Season 9 Minor didn’t really teach us what we didn’t already know from previous tournaments: Tiny remains near OP, while Disruptor and Witch Doctor are still top-tier support picks.
Having said that, the meta should change with another patch set to come online in the middle of the DAC 2018 Major.
What do you think of Team Secret’s performance at the Corsair DreamLeague Season 9 Minor? Do you think they’ll come up big at DAC 2018? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.