It took Nigma Galaxy seven series, a missing hard carry player, and a stand-in coach to finally claim their first victory of the season—and dashing Team Secret’s Major hopes in the process.

Coach Roman “rmN-” Paley substituted for Igor “iLTW” Filatov in their series against Secret in the DPC Europe 2021/22 Tour 2 Division I last night. Usually a support, rmN- looked surprisingly at home as a midlaner, while Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi moved to the safelane.

Nigma’s win does little but boosts their confidence—the team is guaranteed to be heading down to Division II after achieving a 1-6 record. This also confirms that the team will not appear at any Majors for the rest of the season, while the hope of qualifying to The International 11 will have to wait until after the Regional Leagues.

Nigma’s coach rmN- struts midlane Dark Seer to win game one

Team Nigma at the Dota 2 Leipzig Major 2020
Credit: DreamHack

Nigma came bolting out of the gates for the first game. Without iLTW, Nigma went for an atypical draft, opting for two offlane heroes with a midlane Dark Seer, played by coach rmN-. Secret picked up the Chaos Knight, a favored pick for them, as a hard carry, and managed to get Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan off to the races with a first blood and four more kills in the first 10 minutes.

But as the game wore on, Secret became increasingly unable to contain the Miracle-‘s Phantom Assassin. Nigma’s teamfight draft with Sand King and Dark Seer held their own for a large part of the game, letting Miracle- accrue his items and levels in peace.

With no evasion-piercing solution in sight for Miracle-, the 24-year-old proceeded to have his way the moment Black King Bar came online. Despite Secret claiming a Roshan in the 20th minute, Nigma responded to take away the Aegis advantage immediately, and led the game comfortably from then on.

With elimination on the line, Secret found their fire in game two. They led from start to finish, and took incredible care to properly close out the match. An uncommon Troll Warlord pick blindsided Nigma’s strategy, grabbing a carry that can stand his ground while letting the rest of his team deal sustained damage.

Miracle-‘s unstoppable Naga Siren secures game three and series

Dota 2, Naga Siren
Credit: Valve

In the third game, Nigma regained their form swiftly. The team managed to get their hands on two powerful heroes—Death Prophet and Maroun “GH” Merhej’s signature Keeper of the Light—that set the tone for the rest of the team. Though Miracle’s Naga Siren suffered briefly in the laning stage, Ivan Borislavov “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov more than made up the difference from the offlane.

With the pressure relieved by the rest of the Nigma players, Naga Siren proved to be the perfect last pick, punishing Secret’s lack of illusion clear. Miracle- played fearlessly around the map, and eventually picked up Aghanim’s Scepter to make his Ensnare a magic immunity-piercing five second root on an eight-second cooldown. It was the perfect tool to take away the opposing Faceless Void and Void Spirit’s mobility, leaving them stuck to be massacred by Naga’s illusions.

The gulf between Secret and Nigma was unassailable—Secret had a lineup already weak to the Naga Siren and found themselves massively behind in gold and experience. It didn’t take for Nigma to march down the lanes and claim their first win of the season—a victory that matters little for them, but a defeat that will have massive implications for Secret.

Secret’s fate is now out of their own hands. In a season marked by inconsistency—the only team to take games off the otherwise undefeated OG, and the only team to lose to Nigma—there’s still a mathematical possibility for them to qualify for the Stockholm Major. It’ll require Tundra to lose to Brame—which means three teams will have 3-4 records. Should the favored Tundra win, they will secure the final slot themselves, leaving Secret safe in Division I but without any LAN tournaments on the horizon.

READ MORE: The Dota 2 hero tier list (April 2022)