In the last few years of modern Dota2, the team that has shaped the course of history more than any other was Secret 1.0. The original lineup consisting of: Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, Gustav “s4” Magnusson, Tal “Fly” Aizik, and Johan “n0tail” Sundstein only lasted for a timespan of three months from August 27 2014 to December 15 2014. While that lineup in and of itself never achieved greatness, the breaking of it started everything. Four of the five players some of the best Dota2 teams in the world and this lineup was the genesis.
The origins of this team is similar to many other teams of the past. It started after The International. In this particular case, it was after TI4. That was the event where China was at its peak power. Five of the top eight teams were Chinese and the grand finals was between Newbee and VG. Before that event though, the two biggest teams throughout the year had been EG and team DK. Team DK was an all-star team in the truest sense. It gathered together the greatest players in the East during that period. Players like: Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei, Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung, Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang, Zhang “LaNm” Zhichen, and Lei “MMY!” Zengrong. To this day, there are people to this day who still swear by this team as one of the greatest to ever grace Dota2.
As for EG, they weren’t an all-star team, but they’d eventually be recognized as one. The team consisted of Peter “ppd” Dager, Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora, Ludwig “zai” Wahlberg, Artour “Arteezy” Babaev, and Clinton “Fear” Loomis. They initially started out as S A D B O Y S. It was a brilliant team with the right players in the right roles and a style of play that changed the meta of the game. Where teams used to emphasize their carry player, ppd recognized the talent of Arteezy and had the team build around his superstar carry potential in the mid lane.
These were two of the biggest teams that defined that year of Dota2. This is critical in understanding the subsequent roster shuffle that happened post TI4. The old teams were dying off. Fly and n0tail’s Fnatic was dropping off. Puppey and KuroKy had their last hurrah with Na`Vi at TI4. [A]lliance was a shell of what itself by the time TI4 ended.
With the old teams dying off, players looked to see what was working. China was the most dominant region and all three of their top teams were filled to the brim with talent. The same could be said of EG. It was an era of super teams and so Secret decided that the super team was the answer. So the first iteration of Secret was formed as Puppey, KuroKy, Fly, s4, and n0tail teamed up.
In terms of Dota2 understanding, this team was off the charts. Puppey was hailed as the greatest Western captain up to that point. KuroKy had shown himself as a brilliant star player turned support. Fly and n0tail were the brains behind Fnatic and had shown plenty of knowledge in their time playing with Fnatic. S4 had been the captain and mid laner of [A]lliance.
While the in-game knowledge part made complete sense, the rest of the roster didn’t. None of the roles or synergies made any sense on paper. Beyond s4 playing mid, there was no obvious answer as to who should play what role. Fly and n0tail were a support duo. KuroKy and Puppey were a support duo. In the end, KuroKy played carry as he used to back in the old days, Fly moved to offlane, and Puppey and n0tail become the supports.
The results were good considering all of the inherent role and synergy issues I pointed out. In the three months together they went to three LANs: ESL One New York, Starladder StarSeries Season 10, and The Summit 2 (I didn’t count Captain’s Draft as it’s a different mode). At those three LANs they got top 4, 2nd, and 3rd respectively. Good was not good enough though as this team was created with the conceit of being the best in the world. They made roster changes that eventually found both Fly and n0tail out of the lineup.
For Secret the year between TI4 to TI5 was the year of the roster change. They continually swapped players in and out until they found the right sequence of players that allowed them to dominate the world. On January 1st, they found them as they were able to recruit Arteezy and zai from EG to the roster. The team then went on a killing spree. In the months that were headed to TI5, the team attended four LAN events: Red Bull Battle Grounds, The Summit 3, MarsTV Dota2 2015 Spring, and ESL One Frankfurt. They won all four and were the outright favorites to win TI5. They then capitulated under the pressure of TI5 as the added pressure broke the team apart.
Soon after the complete implosion at TI5, KuroKy and s4 left the squad. What had once been one squad had been scattered to the five winds. Puppey rebuilt Secret with the Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao lineups. S4 went back to [A]lliance to try to rekindle the glory days. KuroKy created 5Jungz, which later became Liquid. Kuroky teamed up with another veteran Adrian “FATA-” Trinks to play with rising talents in Europe including: Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen, Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov, and Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka.
As for Fly and n0tail, they were removed at separate times from Secret so in the interim they had joined different teams. Fly went to compLexity while n0tail joined Cloud9. Once TI5 ended though, the partnership was renewed. The two of them believed that the idea of family and friendship was a core part of what made a team and with that in mind, they created Monkey business, which later became OG. They recruited three players: David “MoonMeander” Tan, Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen, and Amer “Miracle-” Barkawi.
The year between 2015-2016 was a war between these three stacks. Secret and OG battled it out for top finishes. Secret started off the year strong with two victories at ESL One New York and MLG. OG pulled out a shocking underdog victory at the Frankfurt Major. When 2016 came around, all three teams battled in earnest. Secret won Shanghai Major while OG won the Manila Major. As for Liquid, they had lost to both teams in the finals of both Majors, but had also won EPICENTER. Secret ended up falling towards the end of the year, while OG and Liquid headed to TI6 as favorites to win the event. In the end, it was neither of them as Wings took it all.
The following year, OG changed rosters again. They removed MoonMeander as he wasn’t fitting the team socially. This caused a change in the team as Cr1t left to join EG and Miracle- decided to go play with Liquid. OG then got JerAx and Anathan “ana” Pham to come in their place. Their fifth player was s4 as s4’s attempts to resurrect [A]lliance to winning ways had failed. This team went on to win two more Majors from 2016-2017 and were once again favored to win TI7.
As for Secret, the team was left in a rebuilding phase as Puppey started to follow the formula that OG and Liquid had done as he looked for young talent to mold and build around. As for Liquid, they got Miracle-, but were unable to find the correct 5th player until 2017 when Maroun “GH” Merhej joined the roster. While they didn’t have the consistency of OG, they were able to peak going into TI7 with victories at Starladder i-League Season 2, EPICENTER 2017, and DreamLeague. At TI7 they went on to win the title.
The 2017-2018 season saw more changes again. At TI7, Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok showed exceptional form during his run with Empire and because of that, OG decided to recruit him after ana stepped down from play. Puppey had been slowly building his roster and finally found success once again early on in the season with Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat, Fata, Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng, and Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard. They had good success early on in the season with victories at DreamLeague Season Season 8 and 9, 2nd at ESL Hamburg and top four at ESL Genting. For a period of time, they along with Virtus.Pro and Liquid were fighting for the top spot in the world.
As for Liquid, they continued with their five man roster and were incredibly consistent throughout the entire DPC. They were able to win minor events as well as consistently placing top three throughout the entire year. However, they weren’t able to overcome the powerhouse that was Virtus.Pro until the very end at the Chinese SuperMajor.
As for OG, this was their worst season as a squad. Resolut1on didn’t fit with the squad in terms of gameplay and style. Because of that he and the team split ways, but OG were never able to find a replacement. Their coach, Sebastien “7ckngMad” Debs had to stand-in for them as the carry player. The situation slowly seemed to crumble apart as while the team was nowhere near championship contention.
It was a breaking point moment for the squad. For a team that had espoused family and friendship, this was the make or break moment. For Fly and S4, friendship wasn’t enough as they decided to jump ship at the last moment. On May 28th, 2018 they joined EG to create a super team with Arteezy, Sumail “SumaiL” hassan, and Cr1t. This left OG high and dry as they had to scramble to find players.
For the remaining players of OG, this was also a test of their commitment to each other and to their belief in themselves. Fly and S4 leaving when they did was absolute proof that neither Fly nor S4 believed that they could win The International. This could have broken them, but instead it fueled them. While the eternal partnership between Fly and n0tail died, from it OG was reborn. They went into crisis mode as they quickly found two players to play with them. OG reunited with Ana and recruited rookie player Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen. They then changed roles with n0tail becoming the leader and five player. Ana moving from mid to carry and 7ckngMad moving from carry to offlane.
They then qualified for TI8. Even then it looked dire as they dropped games early in their group. However they were able to figure out their style of play and what worked for them. This was a team whose experiences and playstyle were mirrors of each other. Fly and S4 had left them to die, but they refused to do so. Each time they were on the brink of falling off the cliff and each time they climbed back. In a TI8 documentary, Yang “Chalice” Shenyi recalled playing against OG in scrims,
“During scrims we felt like OG were not really strong, but they are very tenacious. After getting Ana and Topson they became even more tenacious and were really good at capturing opportunities. They are always eager to win and never stop chasing victory…they are the most tenacious team at this TI.”
That tenacity showed through and OG pulled out miracle wins to take it all. Now we come to the modern age. What was once an entire team in Secret 1.0 has been split apart into four. Puppey, KuroKy, s4, Fly, and n0tail. Four of the five are now leaders of all of the best teams in Europe outside of ppd’s NiP. What was once a dream project to gather all of the superstars in one team to dominate the world has been split across Europe.
Puppey has led Secret back to the top of Dota2 once again with his victory at ESL Hamburg and 2nd at the Kuala Lumpur Major. EG now with Fly and s4 continue to be a top team in the world with a 3rd place finish at TI8 and another 3rd place finish at the Kuala Lumpur Major. After burning out and dropping out of the qualifiers, KuroKy and Liquid are set to return and compete for the highest stakes in Dota. Finally, n0tail and OG have finished their break after the TI8 victory and are once again ready to compete.
Secret 1.0 was the Genesis of European Dota. In retrospect, those five players were absolutely correct in believing that they could dominate the world. Just not with all five together. As each have split off their own path, they have created top team after top team. Puppey with Secret. Fly and n0tail with OG. Fly and S4 now with EG. KuroKy with Liquid. That genesis has come to full fruition as now all five members battle at the highest levels of Dota2.