WePlay Animajor Wild Card Wrap Up
The final Major before The International (TI) commenced on Wednesday, with the Wild Card stage of the tournament starting proceedings.
With six teams competing in a best-of-2 round-robin, only two teams could emerge from this stage of the tournament and continue to the Group Stage.
Of those competing, only Team Secret and Invictus Gaming had already secured qualification for TI, so with top 8 at this tournament being the final opportunity for points available, a successful Wild Card run was a requirement to avoid the scary regional Qualifiers later this year.
Let’s see how it went.
The first day of the tournament started out with Vici Gaming, Nigma and Team Secret as heavy favourites, with Execration, Gambit and Invictus Gaming being the underdogs of this stage.
Despite this, Execration and Monaco both came out swinging in their opening day, forcing 1-1 draws out of both Team Secret and Vici Gaming, showing us that simply by virtue of being at the Major, all teams are still top tier talent in their own right.
Nigma was in a very interesting position having lost to iG, beaten Monaco.Gambit and then drawing to Vici Gaming. Vici Gaming drew across all their series. This allowed the two squads with the best chance of still being able to qualify for TI end the day one in prime position to secure their entry into the group stages.
The day began with Team Secret finding yet another draw against Execration, whilst Vici Gaming secured a clean victory against Monaco.Gambit. This guaranteed Vici Gaming at least a tiebreaker spot to exit the group, while the Monaco’s journey was cut short. Team Secret and Execration meanwhile found themselves having to ensure that they avoided defeat at all costs to still keep their Major hopes alive.
Nigma came into the fold, with their first match of the day being an utter dismantling of Execration. This brought an end to the Major for the young SEA team, while putting Nigma in a position where their final series against Team Secret would decide whether or not they could secure their entry to the Group Stages, needing a clean 2-0 to do it.
As the two European titans prepared for their match, Vici Gaming booked their ticket to the Groups by taking down the defending Major Champions with dominant performances from “Ori” in the midlane.
ALL TO PLAY FOR
With now only one slot remaining to exit the wildcard, and the final match-up being Team Secret against Invictus Gaming, Nigma held their fate in their own hands. As they secured game one, the pressure mounted as they recognized that one more victory against Team Secret would seal the deal.
With a draft that looked like Secret would have a massive advantage, Nigma played an unorthodox style which allowed them to play with massive early game tempo. Drafting heroes to provide heavy sustain to the “Miracle” Puck and “ILTW” Spectre, they used that to pressure Team Secret all across the map, and found themselves solidifying an almost unassailable lead behind an Ultra Kill for Miracle at the 12-minute mark. The map looking dire on all fronts and Nigma so far ahead, it seemed like they had finally done enough to keep the TI dream alive.
Unfortunately, Valve servers crashed during the game, which had the knock-on effect of taking all the information on the server about the game with it. With literally no way to continue the same game, massive controversy brewed as all parties raced to find an equitable solution. Unfortunately as one could not be agreed on, Valve themselves stepped in and declared the game had to be replayed with the same heroes and starting items. Given the surprising nature of Nigma’s playstyle in game, this granted Team Secret the tactical edge to adapt their own play accordingly, which then resulted in them taking this game.
THE FINAL BATTLE
This result meant the final series between Secret and IG in the Wild Card had the potential to either allow Nigma to secure second place in the group should that series be a draw, or to force tiebreakers should either team win outright.
Nigma and their fans watched with baited breath as Secret twice tried to give “Matumbaman” the tools he needed to win a game on Monkey King. Unfortunately for them, there’s a reason the hero is rarely seen in the contemporary meta. And after suffering a 2-0 loss, their Major journey would also come to an end, and the fate of Nigma would hang in the balance once more.
The final game of the Wild Card was a best-of-one tiebreaker between Nigma and Invictus Gaming, with the victor continuing on the tournament.
Invictus Gaming, having already qualified for TI, did not need this game in the same way Nigma did. Clearly that extra edge gave Nigma an urgency about their draft and play which made the game very difficult for IG. Spearheaded by the “Miracle” Invoker and “GH” Elder Titan, Nigma controlled the entire game from start to finish, preventing IG from finding a foothold in the game despite grabbing the signature “Emo” Morphing.
THE ACTION CONTINUES
With this win, Nigma secured a Group Stage berth, and continue to play with an eye towards earning the points necessary to qualify for TI.
With points only available for top eight teams, moving out of the Group Stages is essential for all the teams yet to qualify for TI, thus the Group Stages, starting on June 4 at 13:00 CEST will provide unmissable games for the journey’s of our favourite Dota2 teams.
Don’t miss the action on the WePlay Twitch channel.