One Esports World Pro Invitational Singapore entered its final stage of the playoffs on Saturday, December 21, when round two of the lower bracket took off. Remaining in the tournament were some of the biggest names in the Dota 2 competitive scene who were given one last shot at entering the grand finals via the lower bracket, yet out of all teams, it was ViCi gaming who showed the most competitive spirit and are now only one step away from making an appearance in the grand finals alongside Evil Geniuses.
ViCi's venture into ONE Esports World Pro Invitational playoffs started on Friday, December 20, when they met with TNC Predator in round one of the lower bracket where the Chinese roster impressed and reverse-swept ESL One Hamburg 2019 and MDL Chengdu Major champions to punch a ticket for round two. While an impressive display from ViCi, their toughest test came on Saturday, when they met with one of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 competitive scene - Team Secret.
ViCi Gaming vs Team Secret
The matchup between ViCi and Team Secret was a heavily anticipated brawl and it did not fail to live up to the expectations as the two teams produced one of the most exciting fixtures of the tournament. The Chinese juggernauts and the European powerhouse went back and forth in a series which ended up going the distance, yet it was ViCi who delivered and won 2-1.
Team Secret got off to a flying start in game one thanks to Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen who helped his team secure a small lead, which made it seem like Team Secret are well on their way of securing the first map of the series. That, however, proved to be a much tougher task than what the Europeans lead us to believe.
ViCi Gaming retaliated and with the help of Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun and Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang managed to close the gap and turned the game around. By the time the mid-late game came around, ViCi were already holding to a substantial lead, which they used to snowball to their first win of the series.
After a poor display in game one, where he made one too many mistakes, MATUMBAMAN decided to redeem himself and took ViCi by surprise with his Diffusal Blade build on Morphling to counter the Chinese mana heavy draft. As the game went on, it became obvious Team Secret out-drafted ViCi, who had no answer for the European pressure, as they stood and watched their buildings crumble to dust one after another.
Team Secret were in a lead since the 20-minute mark, yet they needed slightly over 41 minutes to tie the series 1-1. Team Secret were the dominant side throughout the match, which gave some much-needed morale boost as they ventured off into the final match of the series.
Confidence is without a doubt a strong weapon to have, yet it can also backfire badly, and Team Secret were the prime example of that. Fans were expecting another exciting, closely fought match, and while it was an exciting one, it was anything but close.
What exactly went through the minds of Team Secret is anyone's guess, but as soon as the draft started, the Europeans looked like they had no plan and no idea how to approach the final match of the series and it showed as soon as the two sides entered the arena.
ViCi took an early lead and never looked back. The whole team played near-perfectly, while Team Secret seemingly made no attempts to retaliate. By the time 15th minute came around, ViCi were already holding onto a 4.6k gold lead, and they needed only three more minutes to close out the series.
The match ended after only 18 minutes and 39 seconds, which marked the shortest match of the tournament.
ViCi Gaming vs Alliance
After claiming a dominant win against Team Secret, ViCi were set to lock horns with Alliance, which was regarded as ViCi's toughest test of the tournament so far, but the piping hot Chinese roster made it seem like a walk in the park as they crushed their Swedish counterparts in a commanding fashion.
The draft for the first match of the series seemed like Alliance would be the ones setting the tempo, by drafting mobile heroes to put pressure on ViCi. Despite their aggressive draft, however, it was ViCi who were holding the reins of the match in their hands since the first minute.
ViCi secured the first blood and with the help of smart rotations from Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang turned their marginal lead into a decisive advantage. ViCi took the lead at around 10 min mark and never looked back. Alliance did their best to keep their boat afloat with intriguing manoeuvres but to no avail, as they had no real answer ready for ViCi who secured the map in 33 minutes and 35 seconds.
Following a rather underwhelming performance in map one, Alliance opted for a very aggressive draft, hoping to claim an early lead and snowball off it. Their plan, however, did not work as intended, as it was ViCi who secured an early lead. Alliance retaliated at 22-minute mark when they won a huge team fight and turned the game upside down.
Their enthusiasm, however, did not last long. The pace of the game changed dramatically when Eurus picked up his Black King Bar on Slark, which proved to be too much to handle for Alliance, as they had no real answer prepared for him. ViCi once again took over the match shortly after 30th-minute mark and made one last push to seal the series with a perfect 2-0 win.
By defeating two Dota 2 juggernaut teams in a single day, ViCi convinced many they have finally found their long lost championship-winning form, yet there is still a long road ahead of them before they can reach the summit of One Esports World Pro Invitational Singapore.
This Sunday, December 22, ViCi will meet with the surprise semi-finals appearance - Gambit Esports, where they will be chasing a ticket for the grand finals, where Evil Genuises await their final opponents.