Experience is something that can’t be overlooked in any form of competition, especially when it comes down to a grand finals series against a top-tiered team.
Nigma started off the Dota 2 WePlay! Bukovel Minor looking rough. But just like their run at The International 2019, they pulled things together and made an incredible comeback to qualify for the DreamLeague Season 13 Major.
After scraping into the upper bracket and losing to Royal Never Give Up in the first round, Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi and his team had to put their heads together and find out what was going wrong. With some small changes made to their drafting approach, Nigma managed to make it through both Gambit Esports and Geek Fam, though neither series was a walk in the park.
RNG were utterly dominating the competition throughout both the group stage and the playoffs, only dropping two games before making it to the grand finals where things started off well for them. Du “Monet” Peng and Gao “Setsu” Zhenxiong were both prepared for a longer fight, which was the opposite of what Nigma wanted.
Aliwi “w33” Omar’s Huskar carried the team through the early stages of the game. But Monet’s Drow Ranger served as a great counter to Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi’s Alchemist, which was one of Nigma’s only late-game answers. Paired with Outworld Devourer, RNG dwarfed Nigma’s damage output and won the game easily.
Nigma started with a strong lead in game two thanks to Miracle- ‘s Phantom Lancer crushing the opening 25 minutes, but RNG quickly came alive despite Maroun “GH” Merhej playing out of his mind on Earthshaker.
It was an incredible 80-minute match that RNG controlled for most of the game until Nigma were able to capitalize on a few mistakes. This was the first instance of tier five neutral items appearing in the Dota Pro Circuit, which Nigma used to finish the longest professional game of this patch with a win.
Game three was a landslide victory for Nigma. They were able to capitalize on an odd draft and neutralize Setsu’s Storm Spirit. Miracle- had another incredible game on Phantom Lancer and w33 matched him with a solid Drow Ranger that was able to put the ex-Team Liquid players on tournament point.
Most of game four was spent with Nigma having to try and pick off RNG’s players because they lacked the firepower to win an actual teamfight in the early game. Their goal was simply to extend things and let GH’s Earthshaker set up for some big combos with Miracle-‘s Drow Ranger, which didn’t look like it was going to happen early.
Their patience ended up paying off: At 37 minutes into the match, GH landed a massive Echo Slam that led to Nigma getting a complete team wipe and flipping the momentum slightly. It gave Nigma a small chance to maneuver, which the veteran squad was barely able to pull off.
Despite being down more than 25,000 gold and never leading outside of the opening minutes, Kuro knew that this was his team’s chance to end the series. With that thought in mind, Nigma slowly began pushing further into RNG’s territory until they secured one more important opening and rushed the high ground.
After clearing out the waves and other obstacles, Nigma dove onto the enemy team, aiming for early kills and then pivoting to attack the throne when buybacks came out. RNG couldn’t counter their strategy in time, but it was still a close call because some of the Chinese players were trying to body-block Miracle- from hitting their base.
Despite coming within a few clicks of losing the match, Nigma forced GGs and won the entire tournament thanks to their risky final push. That secured them a spot a the DreamLeague Season 13 Major later this month, $72,000, and 140 DPC points.
KuroKy was also awarded the Support MVP of the Minor, while Miracle- was named Core MVP too during the award ceremony. Nigma will return to the big stage on Jan. 18 when the DreamLeague Season 13 Major begins.