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Alliance beat Nigma 3-2 today in the grand finals of the StarLadder ImbaTV Minor qualifiers in a matchup that wouldn’t be out of place at a Dota 2 Major.
Nigma and Alliance’s series went down to the wire. The teams traded two games apiece before heading into the fifth and final game.
While the early game was an intense affair, Nigma clawed out an advantage for themselves in the late game. After securing multiple Roshans and barracks, Nigma prepared for the final push into Alliance’s base to get the mega creeps.
The mega creeps were costly, however. Nigma had to commit Black King Bars on multiple cores and sacrificed Omar “w33” Aliwi’s life in the process. Having secured a decisive advantage and lacking buyback on Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi, Nigma simply had to sit tight and wait for w33 to respawn before going for a game-ending play.
But Nigma got too antsy for their own good. Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi started to aggressively posture against Alliance, trying to prevent them from heading down the mid lane for a game-ending push. As long as Nigma kept in mind their own surroundings and cleared out the creep wave, there was no way Alliance could get past them. Backdoor regeneration would also remain in effect since both side lanes were pushed into Alliance’s base. With w33 dead on the sidelines, the cautious play was something that 99 percent of teams would have elected to do.
In a bizarre turn of events, Miracle- and MinD_ContRoL cast caution to the wind and proceeded to sprint into the thick of things, diving past Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov’s double-Rapier wielding Medusa to attempt to kill a support Disruptor that had a buyback, which heavily negated the importance of the kill.
Slardar’s ridiculous movement speed meant that in the blink of an eye, the two Nigma cores found themselves surrounded by the entire Alliance team, entirely of their own volition. Without their Black King Bars, which they previously used in their offensive push, they had no secondary escape plan. The worst part? They even failed to execute their ill-advised strategy and only managed to hit the Disruptor once.
The Medusa that they ignored proceeded to shred three of Nigma’s heroes. Suddenly, Alliance found themselves with an incredible opportunity that Nigma handed to them on a diamond-encrusted platinum platter.
Alliance did what any sane person would do—laugh all the way to the bank to cash in their newfound riches. With Miracle-, Nigma’s highest net-worth player, dead without a buyback, Alliance’s biggest threat was the comparatively irrelevant mega creeps knocking on their Ancient. Nikobaby made short work of the enemy base, rubbing extra salt into the wound by murdering the four remaining Nigma heroes for good measure.
Alliance have truly cemented themselves as one of the better teams in Europe. It’s not an easy task considering the overwhelming amount of talent in the region, including Team Secret, OG, Liquid, and the revamped Ninjas in Pyjamas.
The team will breathe a sigh of relief at their intense series that eventually culminated in a win. Alliance will head into the Minor as one of the clear favorites of the field and will be able to attend the Major if they win the StarLadder Minor.
Nigma’s fans will certainly be disappointed in the peculiar ending to the series, however. While Alliance played well and capitalized on the appropriate advantages, it’d be remiss not to acknowledge the incredible stroke of luck they received.
Nigma haven’t looked like the same beast since their intense lower-bracket run at The International 2019 that saw them finish as runners-up.
After electing to take a break at the beginning of the season, Nigma started the new year with an exhausting run through the open qualifiers and Minor before finally ending up at the Leipzig Major, where they only earned a top-12 placing.
With this loss, Nigma will miss the entire third round of the 2019-20 Dota Pro Circuit. Alliance move on to the StarLadder ImbaTV Minor in Ukraine, which begins on March 5.