The tournament was full of surprises. And the final series was no different. Nigma pulled off a reverse sweep against Team Secret to become the WePlay! Tug of War: Mad Moon champions.
Nigma came into the first game with a strategy. They went all-in on the early game, playing hard and fast. It revolved around Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi on Sven. He dove towers and pushed objectives with the support of Maroun “GH” Merhej on Io and Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi on Chen. All the while, Ivan “MinD_ControL” Ivanov and Omar “w33” Aliwi dipped in and out of the fights on Timbersaw and Puck.
Nigma’s strategy looked good. And it almost worked. They killed Roshan in the 13th minute. They attempted to siege and eventually destroyed the Dire Tier 3 Top Tower in the 25th minute. And they had a net-worth lead until the 27th minute. But unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Michał “Nisha” Jankowski’s Morphling came online. And it all went downhill from there. He carried Team Secret to a decisive victory, netting 14 kills and 12 assists in the process with only 3 deaths.
Nigma went back to a more traditional line-up in the second game. But Team Secret was still too good. It was all over in the 29th minute. And it all had to do with another standout performance from Nisha. He ended up with 13 kills, 17 assists and 0 deaths on Batrider. Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen was solid on Juggernaut, with 8 kills, 19 assists, and 2 deaths. It was a reminder to his friends and former teammates that perhaps he wasn’t the issue after all.
Team Secret were already the favourites heading into the final series. And after their performances in the first two games, it seemed inevitable they would win the series. But with their backs against the wall, Nigma responded in style and reminded everyone how good they can be.
Nigma stomped Team Secret in the third game. They brought back the hard and fast playstyle that had been working for them throughout the tournament. And they executed it to perfection. Miracle- was frighteningly awesome on Leshrac, with 9 kills, 9 assists and 1 death. w33 was equally good on Outworld Devourer, with 8 kills, 7 assists and 0 deaths. But the MVP was GH on Io, who made all the difference with his 19 assists and 1 death. It was all over in the 25th minute.
That momentum continued into the fourth game. Miracle- killed it again, with 7 kills, 2 assists and 1 death on Lifestealer. w33 was up there too, with 6 kills, 9 assists and 2 deaths on Razor. Nigma secured the gold and net-worth advantage right out of the gate and never let it go, making quick work of Team Secret in a 26-minute stomp.
Funnily enough, the fifth game was also a 26-minute stomp. Miracle- was dominant again, with 8 kills, 12 assists and 0 deaths on Faceless Void. He left fans baffled after his throw against Alliance in the Starladder ImbaTV Minor Qualifiers. But it’s safe to say he has returned to god-tier form. KuroKy also had a good game on Winter Wyvern. Normally he is the sacrificial lamb of the team. But in this game, he may as well have been a carry. He racked up an impressive 8 kills, 12 assists and 2 deaths. It was a fitting conclusion to an impressive reverse sweep.
WePlay! Tug of War: Mad Moon isn’t a part of the Dota Pro Circuit. Unfortunately, that means Nigma didn’t earn any DPC points for their victory. But it did earn them a handy $130,000. And perhaps more importantly, it was a much-needed return to form for a team who hasn’t looked the same since their second-place finish at The International 9.
Nigma failed to qualify for anything in the third round of the Dota Pro Circuit. But hopefully, the form they found in this tournament will continue into the fourth round. They’ll have a chance to fight for a spot in the EPICENTER Major 2020, which takes place between May 2 and May 10.
Alex is a freelance writer based in Adelaide, Australia. He finished a law degree but realised it wasn't the career for him and decided to follow his dream of becoming a writer. Since then, he has finished two postgraduate writing degrees at Swinburne University of Technology. Now he writes about his other passion; esports and gaming.