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Team Secret secured their second win of the Summer Tour in the 2021-2022 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) Western European regional league on Wednesday (29 June) by sweeping Team Liquid, one of the region's strongest teams this season.
It is a pivotal win for Secret as they stay one loss away from missing the Arlington Major and their shot of qualifying for The International 11 (TI11) through DPC points.
The European juggernauts have a good shot against their remaining two opponents, Gaimin Gladiators and Goon Squad, two of the lower-ranked teams in their division.
Remco "Crystallis" Arets and Michał "Nisha" Jankowski were the keys to Secret's victory against Liquid, with the team's new carry player having a perfect performance in game one while their veteran midlaner took over in game two.
Crystallis unkillable, Nisha carries Secret
Secret went for a tank-heavy draft in game one, picking Bristleback for Crystallis, Timbersaw for Nisha, and Viper for Daryl "iceiceice" Koh Pei Xiang.
It was clear that Secret wanted Liquid to work hard for every core kill they get in the game. In addition, Clement "Puppey" Ivanov picked Io to make it near impossible to bring down his teammates.
The result was a lineup that was extremely hard to play against.
Despite a lead after the laning stage, Secret's draft managed to win a pivotal fight at the Roshan pit at the 18-minute mark and control the game after.
Crystallis was the MVP of game one, as he played Bristleback perfectly.
In all engagements, Crystallis would absorb as much damage as he could and then back off to allow his team to move in and clean up Team Liquid.
Despite taking the most damage in the game, Bristleback was never brought down and ended the game with a clean five kills and 14 assists.
In game two, Secret started their draft off boldly, picking Puck for Nisha and Phoenix for stand-in Baqyt "Zayac" Emiljanov, two heroes who are susceptible to being countered.
Liquid picked Snapfire as a counter to Phoenix but failed to choose heroes with enough lockdown to control Puck.
Nisha is a contender for one of the best midlaners in Dota 2 right now and Liquid's belief that they could ignore his Puck was their biggest mistake in game two.
While Liquid had a solid lead in game two and tried to take Roshan, Nisha stopped them with a perfect three-man Dream Coil followed by a Double Kill.
Nisha was involved in 32 out of Secret's 36 kills in game two, and secured 15 for himself, the highest in the game.
It was a master class by the Polish midlaner and a reminder that, despite Secret's recent struggles, Nisha should never be underestimated.
Crystallis: Puppey a 'very direct kind of person'
After their 2-0 victory over Liquid, Crystallis discussed the series and what it was like working with Secret in the post-match interview.
The Dutch carry player joined the squad at the end of May, and described his first month on Secret as being quite stressful.
"At the start, I will say it is a bit anxiety-inducing. For like the first month or something it kinda hits you differently. But now I feel better overall. And it wasn't like I was really down or anything, I will say it was a bit heavy," said Crystallis.
Secret managed to take down Alliance 2-0 at the start of the Summer Tour but failed to win another series until their match against Liquid. Crystallis believes these were growing pains and Secret will be stronger moving forward.
"I think there were a lot of things we had to iron out, especially at the start. Over time and especially after our loss to Entity, we're starting to understand how to play at our best," said Crystallis.
Secret's captain, Puppey, is a Dota 2 legend and currently the only player who has attended all 10 iterations of The International.
Puppey has always had a hands-on approach to leading his team, something Crystallis notes in the interview.
"Puppey is more of a dominant kind of captain, but overall it's not a severe change or hard to deal with. He's just another person, pretty much," said Crystallis.
"Some people are softer, while others are more direct, and Puppey is a very direct type of person. "
With their victory against Liquid, Puppey's squad keep their dream of attending the Arlington Major alive. As long as they win their remaining matches, it's still possible for Team Secret to make it to TI11 through DPC points.
Liquid are still in a good spot, despite their loss to Secret, with an overall score of 3-2. Liquid are the favorites in their next match against Goon Squad and have a fair chance against Stockholm Major champions OG as well.
As long as Liquid win at least one of their remaining matches (and potentially tiebreakers), they will be one of the teams in the Arlington Major.
Team Secret roster:
Remco "Crystallis" Arets
Michał "Nisha" Jankowski
Daryl "iceiceice" Koh Pei Xiang
Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat (Baqyt "Zayac" Emiljanov stood in for this match)
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov
Team Liquid roster:
Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen
Michael "miCKe" Vu
Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg
Samuel "Boxi" Svahn
Aydin "iNSaNiA" Sarkohi
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.