Team Secret outlasted Mineski, 2-1, in an epic slugfest that saw all three games end with comeback victories in the Lower Bracket of The International 2019 Main Event.
Game one saw Mineski look to go late with Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov on Wraith King and Kam “Moon” Boon Seng on Alchemist, but Secret countered with a core duo aimed at ending the game quickly with Visage for Michał “Nisha” Jankowski and a surprise Meepo pick for Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng.
Looking to slow down Secret’s timing, Mineski repeatedly ganked MidOne’s Meepo and shut him down while Moon’s Alchemist was free to farm. With their core duo armed and ready while Meepo was scrambling to catch up, Mineski won a huge fight in the mid lane and chased Secret all the way to their tier three tower.
While Secret showed signs of life, Mineski found an opening to take their bottom lane barracks and were poised to take a commanding lead in the series.
Mineski later found another opening against Secret where they killed the Meepo without buyback again, which let them get mega creeps and prime position to end the game. But Secret would execute a miraculous hold where they killed Mineski’s Alchemist without buyback, and used that opening to pull off an unlikely comeback and take game one.
Secret pinned their hopes on Nisha’s Phantom Assassin to carry them in game two, with Ludwig “zai” Wahlberg on Magnus and Clement “Puppey” Ivanov on Ogre Magi to buff him, and MidOne on Storm Spirit to make space during the midgame.
Mineski derailed Secret’s game plan, however, as Moon on Lina dominated MidOne during the laning phase, with Nikobaby on Faceless Void and Damien “kpii” Chok on an offlane Enchantress winning the other lanes for their team.
Secret clawed their way back into the game by punishing Mineski’s aggression, led by Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat with multiple Chronosphere steals to win crucial clashes and help MidOne catch up to the other cores.
Mineski later found a huge opening in top lane by killing Nisha without buyback, with a good chance to equalize the series. However, Secret turned the tables in the ensuing clashes and caught the Mineski cores without buyback, poised for another comeback victory similar the previous game.
But just as Secret denied Mineski what was a sure victory in game one, the Southeast Asian squad pulled off a miraculous hold of their own to come back and force the series to a deciding game three.
In the final game of the series, Mineski opted for a tanky tri-core of Wraith King for Nikobaby, Death Prophet for Moon, and offlane Ogre Magi for kpii, while Secret countered with Faceless Void for Nisha, Tiny for MidOne, and Omniknight for zai.
Mineski put out a lot of aggression early on, but Secret matched their pace with zai’s Omniknight enabling Secret cores to fearlessly make plays around the map. MidOne, in particular, bounced back from his lackluster performances from the first two games and led the way for his team with an early Aghanim’s Scepter pickup.
Mineski turned the tables when Secret attempted to push their advantage, using buybacks to win the fight and subsequently take Roshan. With momentum on their side, Mineski started running Secret over in the subsequent clashes. Secret would later snatch the next Aegis for themselves, but zai died without buyback in the attempt, leading to an opening for Mineski to take their top barracks.
With the game in an apparent deadlock and the series hanging in the balance, both teams clashed in a long teamfight in the middle lane where Secret emerged victorious. While that teamfight win was not enough to take the game, Secret got their opportunity when Nisha caught the two Mineski supports and killed them without buyback. With only Nikobaby left to defend the Mineski base, Secret finally ended the intense series with a hard-earned victory.
Mineski made Secret — who were considered a favorite to win it all coming into TI9 — look very mortal and were on the cusp of the upset and making it into the Top 8. But they will bow out at 9th-12th with over US$675,000 as compensation.
Secret still has a long way to go before they have the chance to take the championship expected of them, the next step in their campaign will see them take on a streaking Infamous in Day 4.