Dota 2: Team of the Year – Team Secret

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Dota 2: Team of the Year – Team Secret

There is really no questioning it, 2020 was Secret’s year.

There’s no doubt 2020 was a strange season. The DPC got put on hold, Majors and Minors were cancelled and LAN events became a dim memory as the Coronavirus pandemic swept the globe. Online leagues and livestreamed events cropped up to fill the gap the DPC had left. But back in March, you would have been forgiven for wondering what exactly was going to happen to our beloved game.

Amid all this confusion and ambiguity surrounding what direction Dota 2 would take, Team Secret found a time to shine. They were more active than ever in 2020. The year was only halfway done, and the EU team had already secured first place at six of the online tournaments.

That’s the sort of win-streak that sees you sitting pretty for TI. But there was no TI10 this year, and Secret weren’t dominating the pack for DPC points. They were doing it for themselves. On June 29, with six victories under their belt, Secret officially broke the 100-game best run record, going 85-15. Breaking Alliances 7-year-old record of 83-17.

The steamroller squad

Secret started out 2020 with a brand-new roster. Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng parted ways with the line-up he had played with for four years, with Secret’s carry, Michał “Nisha” Jankowski, stepping into fill those considerable shoes. Nisha’s performance as a solo mid this year has been exemplary.

It’s no easy task to slide from one role into another with such effortless style, but that is exactly what Nisha has done in 2020. The adaptability and dependability Nisha gave Secret’s roster this year has contributed massively to the team’s success. Something even the esports awards acknowledged, when they crowned him 2020’s PC Player of the Year.

Still, Secret are a well-oiled machine, and their meteoric rise to European juggernaut has been a team effort.

Matu makes a comeback

With Nisha now in mid, his vacant carry slot went to brand-new sign, Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen. The former TI champ found himself sidelined by Team Liquid in the lead up to TI9, replaced by Aliwi “w33” Omar.  But under the leadership of team Captain, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, Urpalainen has put to rest any doubts he was the weakest link in the Liquid/Nigma lineup. Since signing with Secret, Matu’s formidable playstyle and raw talent seem to have been resurrected. And he’s been an essential part in the five-man machine that has kept Secret churning out victory after victory this year.

Even Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat and Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg have had a phenomenal season. YapzOr has long been known as one of the best soft supports in the scene, and zai has not skimped on his signature offlane plays either.

Puppey’s leadership has always excelled at bringing out the best in his teammates. But this current Secret roster seems to have transcended its previous iterations.

There’s no doubt that Secret have been playing at a level above their peers. According to DatDota, the current roster has a 77.73% win-rate together, accounting for 192 wins across 247 games. Considering Secret play in what is widely regarded as the strongest Dota region, that’s no small feat. 

Heen takes Coach of the Year

It’s not just the players on the map that have taken Secret from top-tier to unstoppable either. In late 2019, Lee “Heen” Seung Gon replaced the teams long-time coach Lee “SunBhie” Jeong-jae. Considering Heen took out 2020’s Coach of the Year, this was a swap that worked in Secret’s favor.

This is not Heen’s first rodeo either. The former Pro player has coached record breaking teams before. He was the man behind the helm during Team Liquid’s historic TI7 win too.

After leaving Liquid in 2018, Heen moved to the SEA region to coach TNC.Predator; arguably the mode dominant team in the region at the time. However, the 2018/19 DPC season saw the SEA powerhouse plagued by visa difficulties and behavioural bans that dragged down the team’s morale.

At the end of the 2019 season, he chose to leave TNC and take some time off. A decision that left him free to take up the offer to coach Secret in 2020, and help the team make history this year.

The future looks bright

While the future of the DPC and LAN events is still uncertain, there’s no doubt the future of Team Secret is looking bright.

They’ve dominated 2020’s year of online events, taking home first place a total of nine times across the year.

And if their performance at Leipzig this year is anything to go by; they’ll have no trouble transitioning back to the LAN format. The team was untouchable through their first place run of DreamLeague Season 13 major.

There’s no competition here, Team Secret are 2020’s Team of the Year, and we’re expecting to see them hit the ground running when the DPC finally returns.

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Eliana Bollati
Eliana is a freelance editor & journalist from Australia with a passion for esports and video games. An avid player of video games for the better part of three decades, she began following professional esports circuits during the 2010s. She brings both a player and longtime fan perspective into her commentary on the professional scenes.