Over the past six months, Team Secret has won eight Dota 2 tournaments in a row, crushing six different teams in all of those grand finals in clean sweeps. They also racked up 20 straight series wins in the process.
But that streak was reset to zero today following a 2-0 series loss against underdogs mudgolems in the ESL One Germany playoffs.
Mudgolems, led by former Alliance players Fata and 33 and incorporating a seemingly ragtag bunch of free agents, played a phenomenal series. Despite forming in September and playing in their second tournament, the team didn’t just beat Secret—they outplayed them throughout both games. Leaning fully into their unorthodox drafts with a heavy focus on teamfighting and sustain, mudgolems fought their way through each game and left Secret on the backfoot most of the time.
The stack’s mid laner, Duško “BoraNija” Boranijaševic, had two dazzling performances with vastly different playstyles. Taking Mars to the mid lane in game one, the Serbian managed to draw a tough matchup against Nisha’s Necrophos and was a constant thorn in Secret’s side with his in-your-face initiations. Then, he danced and weaved past his bewildered opponents on the notoriously squishy Lina in the second game. He opted to use an incredibly risky item build with Boots of Travels and Bloodstone, but it paid off handsomely since he ended the game with just one death and the top net worth.
Mudgolems kicked off the series by picking up five strength heroes, four of which were melee. It’s a rare sight, but it worked as they burst out of the gates to an early kill lead. Riding that momentum, they identified their draft weaknesses and remedied them with several gap-closing items like Blink Dagger and Abyssal Blade. Mudgolems slowly and surely chipped away at Secret, exposing the cracks in their armor.
Aside from one phenomenal Black Hole from Zai, Secret were never allowed to play in their comfort zone. It took almost an hour for mudgolems to close out the game despite their consistent lead, but their patience and calm demeanor were commendable when so many teams have made the mistake of being hasty against Secret and seeing the tables turned as a result.
Secret exacted some measure of revenge with an early kill lead in the second game, but the game’s pace slowed to a crawl. MATUMBAMAN’s Phantom Assassin and Oliver “skiter” Lepko’s Sven were content to farm and neither team was able to muster a committed push.
After trading Roshans and barracks, the game was looking like a stalemate. Mudgolems refused the status quo, however, forcing a fight in the bottom lane and executing to a T.
Secret were caught by surprise, losing several heroes that were unable to buyback. Mudgolems stormed the front, taking down their shell-shocked opponents promptly. For the first time since June 26, Secret’s opponents experienced sweet victory.
To be fair, Secret are still the odds-on favorites to take the crown at this event. In their eight-championship streak, they’ve lost five series, two of which were in the playoffs. Team Liquid and Alliance beat them once before going to lose to Secret later on in the lower bracket final and grand finals, respectively.
The titans have gone down temporarily, but the perennial winners won’t be licking their wounds for long. Secret will have a day to rest before taking on Alliance in an elimination series, while mudgolems are sitting pretty—for now—in the upper bracket after securing a top-four placing, awaiting their next opponent.