This is the latest in a series of articles profiling the 18 teams attending The International 8, which kicks off on Aug. 15.
Road to redemption
The 2016 to 2017 competitive season wasn’t kind to European Dota 2 club Team Secret. After bombing out of The International 7 in the bottom four, the squad led by legendary captain Clement “Puppey” Ivanov went into the season with a new look—but only captured one premier event title. The rest of the year was more or less a wash for them, with only a few top four finishes to their name.
With nowhere to go but up, Puppey once again went scouting for talent to fill the roster, after Pyo “MP” No-a and Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann left the carry and offlane spots vacant. In the offseason, he acquired Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard and Adrian “Fata” Trinks, forming yet another highly-promising lineup for the new season.
It paid off massively. Under Puppey’s watchful eye, Ace grew into a fearsome carry player throughout this year, coming through for his team in more than a few occasions and events. His Lone Druid play was a huge part of their success at DreamLeague Season Eight, where they crushed TI8 champions Team Liquid 3-0. Fata, of course, was as good as ever this year, with very stable and solid performances across the board.
Their progress continued swimmingly throughout the year, taking two additional trophies home from Pro Circuit events and placing impressively well in others. As a result of their rapid development of team chemistry and stellar play in tournaments, they ended the season with 5,136 Pro Circuit points—which was more than enough to keep them within the top four slots on the leaderboard.
Their final placement automatically makes them one of the strong favorites at TI8. Thanks to Ace’s newfound power, as well as the vast skill and experience of the rest, they definitely have what it takes to make a historic run this year. Combine both of these factors with Puppey’s veteran drafting prowess, and you have a seriously frightening group of players with their morale at an all-time high.
Even with their current position, though, Secret must avoid getting too bold and cocky in Vancouver, Canada. Puppey himself is no stranger to being in this spot; just look at how TI5 and TI6 ended for Secret despite having two of the most star-studded lineups at his disposal. Things have gone horribly wrong for him and his team before, which we’re sure has been on the back of his mind in the weeks leading up to TI8.
Secret’s roster this year is incredibly good; there’s no way around that simple fact. But then again, so were the ones in past seasons. Getting ahead of themselves in Canada will likely spell disaster for the team, and cause them to repeat history with yet another finish below the top eight.
Could Puppey perhaps cast out the demons that have been haunting him for the last three years and lead his team to victory?
Player to watch
Ace is an unshakeable carry player who rarely tilts, even in the most desperate situations. His contributions to the team this year were absolutely tangible, and translated to some pretty easy wins for Secret.
He’s the best Lone Druid player in the world, and is second only to Fnatic’s Abed Yusop when it comes to playing Meepo. Clubs facing Secret will have to consider banning at least one of his signature heroes, thus opening up the rest of the draft for the other players.
Previous iterations of The International didn’t end well at all for Team Secret, even though they had world-class talent back then. Their position this year is more of the same, so they’ll have to keep their wits about them in spite of their obvious strength.
An A- goes to Team Secret for being one of the most successful teams to come out of the Pro Circuit season, and for the level of consistency that they displayed with their new roster.