If you want to discover the recipe for success, look no further than Team Secret. A dash of EG, a helping of Na`Vi, and just a pinch of Alliance. With players from such prestigious teams, it’s no wonder that, from their very conception, Team Secret has had us constantly in awe of their incredibly solid play and clever strategies. From their recent surprise Techies picks to their distinctive tri-core drafting style at DAC, whether win or lose, it’s clear to see why they’re a fan favorite; their versatility makes them an unpredictable and formidable opponent to face. They can run many different types of strategies with confidence and style.
Team Secret started as a child of the post-TI4 shuffle. From the very beginning, the team has been an amalgamation of fan favorites and veterans of the Dota 2 scene. Their lineup of Kuroky, s4, Fly, BigDaddy, and Puppey was revealed for their first official match in the Star Ladder Star Series Season 10, though BigDaddy, Fly, and s4 were all still technically under contract with their current teams. However, within a month, all of the players had left their respective teams and fully committed to Team Secret. Their star studded lineup managed to consistently place highly in various tournaments. Despite their success, at the end of 2014, BigDaddy and Fly both left, and the team’s chances at the upcoming Dota 2 Asia Championship were seemingly jeopardized.
It was soon announced that Zai and Arteezy would be joining Team Secret’s roster. Their lineup was now even more impressive, a coalition between the younger and the older generations of players. They would be able to take the group stages at DAC by storm with an impressive 15-0 record. However, their run in the playoffs would not be nearly as impressive, nor as flawless. Vici Gaming would be the ones to knock Secret into the Loser’s Bracket, while EG would have the honor of eliminating them from the tournament with a convincing 2-0 in the Loser’s Finals. While third place at what was essentially a mini-TI is nothing to scoff at, it was a disappointing result considering that they were absolutely the favorites to take first after the group stage. After this came yet another disappointing loss at StarLadder Series Season 12; Secret were immediately knocked out of the offline finals after losing back-to-back series to Team Malaysia and Alliance.
For a brief time, it seemed like they were struggling to meet the fans’ expectations. However, after taking a fair amount of time to experiment with 6.84, Secret has taken three consecutive LAN victories at The Summit 3, MarsTV Dota 2 League Spring, and ESL One Frankfurt. It’s clear that Arteezy and Zai have finally settled in, while S4 has excelled at drafting for the team. Secret’s play has been immaculate, they look unstoppable, and their hunger for victory won’t be quenched until they get their first (or, in the case of Puppey and s4, their second) aegis. In a combination of young talent and old veterans, with this mechanical dream-team, will these titans of the west be able to get their first TI victory and meet everybody’s expectations?
Team Secret is undoubtedly the best in the world at execution. Every single player knows the ins and outs of their roles and heroes, letting them get the most out of any situations they’re in. To that end, Secret tends to favor aggressive heroes like QoP, Clockwerk, or Tusk, that allow them to be active while Arteezy gets some farm for a few choice midgame items. By leveraging their skill at taking fights, they pressure the opposing team while outfarming them and getting more out of the map. However, since this approach is so broad, they can take a wide variety of approaches at this strategy. From standard picks like Tusk and Leshrac, to more old school picks like Chen or Io, or even surprise picks like Techies, Secret can fulfill their goal through a variety of means. They also enjoy a modicum of pick flexibility. Arteezy is a very flexible player and can switch to his mid lane, Zai can switch to a jungling hero or take a solo safe lane, s4 can take the hard lane if necessary, (seen more often during 6.83, especially at DAC) and Puppey and Kuro can play pretty much anything.
Secret tends to play a very active early game with their team. Puppey and Kuro will leave Arteezy to farm on his own while they move around the map to make space and ensure their offlaner and mid farm. To that end, Zai and Arteezy are always focused on squeezing every single drop of farm they can out of the map. Secret also makes a point of getting their supports some early farm and levels. Even in their shorter games, you’ll see them getting glimmer capes and solar crests up on their position 4 and 5 supports, giving them yet another edge in midgame engagements. By the time midgame comes, the team is ready to move around the map and establish their dominance.
And on that note, this brings us to Secret’s greatest strength; their knowledge.Their lanes, their map movements, their engagements, all of the decisions they take and the items they make are nearly always on point. The sheer amount of knowledge and mechanical proficiency of the players on the team means that they will simply out strategize and outplay the enemy team. They know the optimal approach to nearly every situation. This, in conjunction with their incredibly decisive execution, is what makes them so feared. They will out-farm, out-rotate, and out-fight your enemy team when the situation calls for it, and above all they also know exactly what to do if something goes wrong. Secret knows exactly what to prioritize and won’t be fazed by a lost teamfight. A successful series of ganks by the other team is only but an obstacle in their eyes and they will build the necessary items for the mid-game to be able to mitigate this advantage. Indeed, a team hoping to topple Team Secret needs to take advantage of any and every small mistake the team makes as trying to out-farm Team Secret and win in the late game is almost always a fruitless effort.
Arteezy is an incredibly fearsome force to be reckoned with. He used to be primarily known for playing farming mids like Shadow Fiend, Naga Siren, and Lycan, dominating his lane in order to secure himself a stable source of farm. However, in 6.84, Artour has been playing more traditional safelane carries like Gyrocopter or Anti-Mage in order to let s4 take the mid lane. Though not in his signature role, Arteezy’s aggressive play and excellent decision making skills makes him one of the most respected position 1 players today.
S4 is all-around a fantastic mid player, but what really made his name famous were his abilities to make plays and create space all across the map. Who could forget the million dollar dream coil of TI3? His two signature heroes Magnus and Puck allow him to initiate fights and dictate the pace of any engagements, and by extension, the game itself. However, s4 has switched to a more traditional mid role now for Team Secret, playing heroes like QoP and Zeus to control the game through aggression and ganks. s4 is also currently drafting for Team Secret, taking up the position in Puppey’s stead.
As an offlaner, Zai has excellent mechanics and is incredibly skilled at making space by taking over the enemy jungle, harassing the enemy supports and carry, and ganking other lanes. Also, like Aui_2000, he excels at finding farm in even the most contested games. Most notable are his games on Bristleback and Broodmother during DAC; Zai is able to survive tough offlanes and go on to get farm and make the lives of any opposing supports and carries miserable. Oftentimes he’s the one carrying the team through the midgame.
Kuroky is, in my humble opinion, one of the main reasons that Team Secret is so well known for its versatility. Before Zai and Arteezy joined the team he played as the position one player and had some pretty memorable games on Naga Siren, Juggernaut, and Phantom Assassin. However, the role Kuroky truly shines in is as a position 4 support, where his wide hero pool allows Secret to run a variety of lineups. From Techies to Io and everything in between, Kuroky’s versatility, alongside the genius of Puppey and s4 in drafting and creating strategies, forms the backbone of Secret’s playstyle.
Puppey is without a doubt one of the best supports currently in the scene. On his signature Enchantress and Chen, he’s skilled at making space through copious amounts of smoke ganks; while on heroes like Dazzle and Shadow Demon, he has incredible game sense and is impeccable at supporting and saving his carry. Puppey is also a brilliant strategist, as a fair amount of Secret’s strategies are his brainchildren.
Editor: Julmust, tehh4ck3r
Editor: Julmust, tehh4ck3r