Nigma Esports came back from a 0-2 start against Team Secret in the grand finals of the WePlay! Tug of War: Mad Moon tournament, pulling off an incredible reverse sweep to claim their second tournament win of the season, having already conquered the Bukovel Minor previously.
The runners-up of The International 2019 won each of the last three games of the finals in under 27 minutes to take home the US$130,000 grand prize.
Meanwhile, Secret will have to settle for a second-place finish and US$60,000 after looking like the overwhelming favorites to win the event.
Here’s what went down in one of the best grand finals of the year so far:
Secret opened the finals with a strong late game composition with Lasee “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen on Faceless Void and Michal “Nisha” Jankowski on a mid Morphling, with Ludwig “zai” Wahlberg on Necrophos, Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat on Rubick, and Clement “Puppey” Ivanov on Snapfire to back them up.
Meanwhile, Nigma opted for a strong midgame composition headed by Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi on Sven, with Aliwi “w33” Omar on Puck, Ivan “MinD_ControL” Ivanov on Timbersaw, Maroun “GH” Merhej on Io, and Kuro “Kuroky” Salehi Takhasomi on Chen bringing up the rear.
Nigma had an excellent laning phase that allowed them to start to threaten Secret’s high ground just 12 minutes into the game, but Secret was able to repel their early siege attempts and stop them from snowballing.
The game slowed down as Nigma were left reeling from their failed high ground attempts. That allowed Matumbaman and Nisha to come online and give their team the momentum, with Secret being the first to destroy a barracks at just under the 30-minute mark.
With Nigma’s midgame power spike long gone, Secret dominated the ensuing fights and eventually closed out the game out after 37 minutes.
Nisha had an excellent 14-3-12 KDA to lead his team in going one game up in the series.
For game two, Nigma ran with Miracle on Lifestealer, w33 on Lina, MinD_ControL on Dark Seer, GH on Io, and Kuroky on Nyx Assassin.
Meanwhile, Secret opted to have Matumban on Juggernaut, Nisha on a mid Batrider, zai on Timbersaw, YapzOr on Rubick, and Puppey on Ancient Apparition.
Secret significant held a lead after the laning phase, but things looked even after Nigma took a three-for-two trade in the middle lane. However, Secret would take full control of the game after they win a big fight at the 22-minute mark.
The Timbersaw-Batrider duo proved to be much to handle for Nigma, as zai was a nigh-unkillable tank that gave Nisha the freedom to terrorize their opponents’ backlines.
While Nigma was able to repel Secret’s first push up their high ground at great cost, they were eventually ground down and forced to call GG in just under the 30-minute mark.
Nisha had another stellar performance, notching a perfect 13-0-17 KDA on his mid Batrider as Secret took a commanding 2-0 series lead.
Secret looked to secure a sweep in the finals with a lategame lineup featuring Morphling for Matumbaman, Kunkka for Nisha, an offlane Dragon Knight for zai, Rubick for YapzOr for the third-straight time, and Elder Titan for Puppey.
Meanwhile, Nigma looked to bounce back with a strong midgame timing keyed by a safelane Leshrac for Miracle and a signature Outworld Devourer pickup for w33, with MinD_ControL on Beastmaster, GH on Io for the third-straight time, and Kuroky on Oracle to back them up.
Nigma took full advantage of the slow buildup of Secret’s lineup, going on the offensive early and taking over much of the map. An early Aghanim’s Scepter pickup for w33 was instrumental in his team’s dominance, as his hero’s empowered Astral Imprisonment ability provided both excellent catch and save options.
Nigma was able to catch out Matumbaman’s Morphling to open up Secret’s base and take their first lane of barracks just 24 minutes in. Secret’s lineup was virtually powerless to stand up to their opponents at this point of the game, and w33 notching a Triple Kill was enough to force the GG call in just under the 26-minute mark.
Nigma’s core duo of Miracle and w33 combined for 17 of their team’s 20 kills as they extend the series to a fourth game.
Nigma looked to tie up the series up with another strong midgame lineup with Miracle on Lifestealer, w33 on Razor, MinD_ControL on Underlord, GH on a position 4 Slardar, and Kuroky on Chen.
Secret countered with Slark for Matumbaman, a mid Troll Warlord for Nisha, Dark Seer for zai, a position 4 Tiny for YapzOr, and Oracle for Puppey.
Nigma had another excellent start, as they heavily shut down both Nisha and zai to start snowballing early once more. While Matumbaman was able to rack up seven pickoffs in 14 minutes to put his team on his back, he could do little to stop the Nigma deathball from destroying their mid melee barracks just 21 minutes in.
Despite Secret’s best efforts at mounting a defense, Nigma looked unstoppable as they forced the GG call 26 minutes in to force the series to a deciding game five.
With all the momentum on their side, Nigma went with another strong midgame composition headed by Miracle’s Faceless Void and w33’s mid Leshrac, with MinD_ControL’s Centaur Warruner, GH’s Nyx Assassin, and Kuroky’s Winter Wyvern bringing up the rear.
Meanwhile, Secret tried to run a similar strategy as their opponents with Matumbaman on Lifestealer, Nisha on a mid Tiny, zai on an offlane Pangolier, YapzOr on Snapfire, and Puppey on Shadow Demon.
Nigma had yet another stellar laning phase as they virtually won all three lanes while Secret struggled to get things going. Nisha had a particularly bad time and couldn’t become the playmaker his team needed him to be, as he only got his Blink Dagger after 18 minutes.
With the Secret lineup neutered and unable to answer their opponents’ relentless aggression, the Nigma deathball simply bulldozed their way through Secret’s base to force the GG call after 26 minutes.
Miracle and Kuroky both notched a game-high 8 kills as Nigma completed the incredible reverse sweep.
Nigma’s first tournament win is a welcome result after they recently failed to qualify for both the Los Angeles Major and the StarLadder Kyiv Minor, especially when it came over the team many consider to be the best in the world right now.
READ MORE: OG.N0tail: ‘I really wanna play Secret’