Team Secret survive a grueling five-game series against Vici Gaming to become ESL One Hamburg 2018 champions in their return to the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg.
For their efforts, Team Secret will bag $125,000 of the $300,000 prize pool. The runner-ups, Vici Gaming, will go home with $65,000.
Team Secret’s midlaner, Yeik ‘MidOne‘ Nai Zheng, topped the overall tally for the Mercedes-Benz MVP. The 22-year-old finished the tournament with a 4.63 KDA. However, perhaps more important than the stats was his mid play. His ability to win against his matchups was instrumental in creating the necessary space that enabled the rest of his team to play to their absolute best.
With the win, Team Secret join Virtus.Pro as the only teams to have won multiple ESL One tournaments.
The Fall of the CIS Bears
In the lower bracket finals of ESL One Hamburg 2018, Team Secret faced off against the defending champions Virtus.Pro. And, unlike their previous series earlier in the tournament and last year’s match up where they lost in the Grand Finals, Team Secret were finally able to get the better of their CIS counterparts.
Team Secret were simply dominant through and through. They took Games 1 and 2 handily behind a strong early game. Even when Virtus.Pro brought out one of their signature Broodmother picks for Roman ‘RAMZES666‘ Kushnarev in Game 2, they could’t keep the series close as Team Secret just flat-out styled on them to close out the series.
Uncharacteristically sloppy and missing their signature kamikaze-style drafts, Virtus.Pro simply didn’t bring their A game heading into the tournament. As a result, they fall way short of defending their title and becoming the ESL One Hamburg 2018 champions.
Team Secret Edge Out Vici Gaming
The series opened with a back-and-forth affair in Game 1, but Team Secret’s small incremental leads eventually became too big for Vici Gaming to overcome.
Vici Gaming would counter back in Game 2 by playing around Zhang ‘Paparazi‘ Chengjun and his Terrorblade. They paired this with Pan ‘Fade‘ Yi building an Aghanim’s Scepter on his Position 4 Weaver for that added survivability. This decision ultimately paid off after an hour-long battle of attrition as Vici Gaming tied the series 1-1.
Strong lanes and an early Aghanim’s Scepter on a support Weaver were once again the highlights of Game 3. However, unlike in Game 2, Vici Gaming were able to finish this one much earlier to take the series lead 2-1.
Team Secret adjusted and focused more on their lanes, as well as the mid-game in Game 4. With MidOne enjoying a strong early game on his Mirana, he was able to make space for his team. Michal ‘Nisha‘ Jankowski benefited from this the most as his uber-farmed Terrorblade helped Team Secret force a Game 5.
In the final game, Team Secret went with a fast-paced lineup. A combination of nerves, pressure, and fatigue led to uncharacteristically sloppy plays and over extensions on the side of Team Secret, especially MidOne. However, a game-changing Reverse Polarity by Ludwig ‘zai‘ Wåhlberg on his Magnus at the Roshan Pit at the 17-minute mark allowed Team Secret to wipe Vici Gaming and break the stalemate.
From then on, Team Secret never let go of the lead and went on to secure the win some 20 minutes later.
Team Secret Are Triumphant in their Return
More than a year ago, at this very stage, Team Secret were denied a chance to become champions by Virtus.Pro. Now, they are the ESL One Hamburg 2018 champions. Not only that, but they beat every top team in the tournament to do so.
The question now is, can Team Secret follow this up with a meaningful run at the Kuala Lumpur Major?
With two titles already under their belt — Team Secret won PVP Esports Championship earlier this month — all signs point towards a yes.
Team Secret’s understanding of the current meta gives them a significant advantage over their opponents. Not only that, but they’re also not afraid to take the kind of risks that no other team seems willing to take.
With Team Liquid nowhere in sight, Virtus.Pro slumping and the defending champions, OG, off vacationing, Team Secret have a strong chance of securing a direct invite to TI9 in Shanghai for next year this early on in the season.
What do you think is next for the ESL One Hamburg 2018 champions? Will Team Secret continue their current string of dominance, or will they finally meet their match in Malaysia? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.