After a stellar performance in their new lineup’s debut, Virtus.pro are victorious at EPIC League. The event, which is set to be the last big EU/CIS tournament of 2020, pitted almost every top team in both regions against each other. But after all was said and done, Virtus.pro triumphed over OG in the EPIC League finals 3-2 to cap off an incredible series of victories during the league, taking home a $200,000 prize.
— EPICENTER (@epicentergg) December 13, 2020
As we’ve discussed, Secret doesn’t seem to be the monster power that it was for most of the season. In this case it seems to be a case of stacks finally catching up with the very best team in the league, and finally there’s parity. At EPIC League, and in the playoffs no more clearly than ever – Team Secret were not the team we’ve come to expect.
After scraping their way through the group stage with more losses on their record than almost the entirety of the rest of 2020, the team crumbled in the playoffs. A 2-0 drubbing by eventual finalists Virtus.pro, and a pair of near thing loses against Team Liquid sealed their fate. Team Secret crashed out of the EPIC League in year low 5th-6th place.
It’s truly the end of an era, with one of the most dominant Dota 2 teams of all time now struggling against a growing list of opponents. Hopefully a new year and a new DPC season will revitalize this once unbeatable team.
Virtus.pro – Youth + Smarts = Easy Victory
After skipping ESL One Germany and completely revamping their roster, Virtus.pro are reborn, and once again a top-tier Dota 2 team. This new Virtus.pro lineup delivers on the promise of the last – a CIS super team that is ready molded to take on the best in the world.
Crushing their way through the EPIC League group stage, and topping it along with another recent upstart, Vikin.gg, VP sent Team Secret to the cleaners in a statement game. What’s more they did so incredibly decisively, and with the kind of intelligence beyond their years. Unsurprisingly, the roster of Egor “epileptick1d” Grigorenko, Danil “gpk” Skutin, Dmitry “DM” Dorokhin, Vitalie “Save-” Melnic, and Illias “illias” Ganeev, are young. Yet the former youth roster of VP.Prodigy were able to seemingly outdraft and outplay Team Secret on their own terms.
Moving on to the Upper Bracket Finals, Virtus.pro would clash with their fellow group stage table-toppers Vikin.gg. Both of these squads share the fact that they’ve now been a consistent roster for almost a year. However, in both games, it was Virtus.pro who were the better team. In both games, Vikin.gg seemed unable to handle either of VP’s carries.
We took this series with 2:0 😎
— Virtus.pro (@virtuspro) December 11, 2020
When they focused epileptick1d in the first game, gpksimply snowballed on Death Prophet. In the second, trying to stop gpk, just lead to an even greater lead for him. These decisive performances left Virtus.pro with just one last obstacle in their way: OG.
Meeting OG in the Final
After a mediocre group stage that saw them fall to the play-ins, OG had some thinking to do. Whatever it was they mediated on though, it’s definitely worked. OG are once again the kings of the lower bracket, having run the gauntlet to get to the finals. After crushing the lone Division 2 qualifier, Yellow Submarine, The team stormed past Natus Vincere, sent Team Liquid Packing, and defeated Vikin.gg.
On a collision course with the dominant looking Virtus.pro team, OG found themselves in a matchup of youth versus experience. As match one kicked off, OG’s mix of slightly unorthodox picks and reliability floundered against Virtus.pro’s more traditional lanes. This put Virtus.pro in the driving seat for much of the match, pushing ahead and grabbing a huge lead. But OG refused to die, constantly finding a way to strike back when VP pushed in to end the match.
VP showed they may be a young roster, but they’re smart. Baiting out the Earth Spirit/Morphling combo while they still had Aegis, the team avoided a big turn around. As a result, they could reset, push in lanes, and grab a near perfect engage to end the match in a decisive fashion.
For match 2, OG returned to the Morph/Earth Spirit combo which had been the only consistent engage for them. Virtus.pro also went back to the Sven/Lina which had allowed them a strong carry lane. OG went back to the more unorthodox picks with the venomancer for Sébastien “Ceb” Debs, but as the match started, things seemed to backfire. A series of questionable players at the start of the game gave up lane leads and left VP in charge of the pace again.
But almost as quickly as they gained control, VP lost it, with a big fight top leading to a dominant swing in fate for OG. By 20 minutes, OG had taken control of the Aegis and were roaming in control of the map, with a huge gold lead. Topias Miikka “Topson” Taavitsainen was the real star of this show, dominating Danil “gpk” Skutin with his morphling and punishing him by taking control of the lion’s share of runes in the matchup. VP would lose out in the second game, with the score equalizing at 1-1
With the drafts once against starting out almost identically, it seemed players from both teams were convinced that it was just their individual play that was the deciding factor in this matchup. With Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng on Night Stalker, it proved the OG were at least right in their case. The veteran carry player struck terror into VP with a scarily good performance, taking advantage of nighttime power spikes. OG pushed things to 2-1 in a super quick stomp to take the lead.
Just warming up.
ONE MORE STEP, LET'S. DO. THIS. 🔥
— OG (@OGesports) December 13, 2020
With their tournament on the line, Virtus.pro instead opted to pick Omni Knight and Ursa, while OG were ready to show VP just how Sven was meant to be played. As one of the most potent heroes in the current meta, Sven’s poor performance in this series was shocking. Both teams started the fourth game incredibly cautiously with no major fight until almost the 20-minute mark.
Despite VP being on the losing end of the initial engagement, epileptick1d was able to clean up a pair of kills afterwards, evening up the score and taking things back to a standstill. As a result, the kills on the Ursa ended up being more impactful. After a series of unsuccessful pushes by OG, Virtus.pro pushed back. With a final pause just after wiping OG (perhaps slightly bad manners…), VP pushed in and ended the game.
A full-fledged final to be! We are one step away from the championship! 🙌 #GOGOVP
— Virtus.pro (@virtuspro) December 13, 2020
With the EPIC League series locked at 2-2, OG and VP came out swinging with assassin picks. Virtus.pro locked in Phantom Assassin, while OG picked up the Slark, giving us something spicy to end the series on. But it was DM’s Timbersaw that looked like the deciding factor as the game began, bullying top lane. This meant that when OG engaged, they found picks almost impossible, as VP could trade back constantly.
As a result, OG were forced to start playing annoyingly. They cut waves, with Topson and Ceb farming very risky lanes. This forced Virtus.pro to take the initiative and force engagements and Roshan attempts they wouldn’t necessarily want. Forced back to their highground, OG won a crucial fight to prevent the game ending, and pushed back Virtus.pro onto the back foot. But Virtus.pro in an incredibly bold move took Roshan, and after a fight opted to leave Cheese and Refresher Orb in the pit in order to quickly capitalize on their momentum, taking down the throne and winning the EPIC League 3-2
Virtus.pro’s young lineup is so impressive. As the VP.Prodigy lineup, they were definitely a force to be reckoned with, but now they’ve got the smarts and game sense to back it up. Defeating OG at EPIC League was a statement, showing that this squad can hang with the best. With team captain Save-, as well as DM and epileptick1d having stand-out games in the final series there’s seemingly no ceiling on this team. It will be exciting to see what they can achieve next year.