Nigma was able to secure the series and aim for redemption against Royal Never Give Up, because the Chinese team kicked them in the Lower Bracket one day earlier.
Nigma without damage can't stop RNG
Kuro S. 'KuroKy' Takhasomi decided to pick Huskar once more for Omar 'w33haa' Aliwi, although one day earlier he couldn't help Nigma win the deciding game against RNG.
The reason for that: Huskar is perfect for the early game, because he's pretty much unkillable. However, the later the game, the less impact w33 would have on that hero. This is why Kuro picked a strong late game hero for Amer 'Miracle-' Al-Barkawi. The plan was pretty obvious: Let Huskar create space in the early game and Alch carry through the late game.
The part of Huskar carrying in the early game worked perfectly:
Although w33 had a great start into the series, he couldn't fight them off alone. Every now and then he got killed and the Chinese squad used these seconds immediately to destroy objectives and push the lanes.
The Chinese carries Du 'Monet' Peng and Gao 'Setsu' Zhenxiong were prepared for a long game. Outworld Devourer was searching for kill after kill to match Huskar and Drow was a strong asset, too.
The team fight in this Twitch Clip was disastrous for Nigma. Su 'Flyby' Lei snatched the Aegis and RNG proved that Nigma's lineup doesn't have the damage output to endanger their heroes.
The Chinese lineup pushed Nigma's highground and didn't give Miracle- a chance to gain impact into the game. Nigma had no choice, but calling 'GG' after 38 minutes.
The incredible 80 minute game with Mega Creeps & more
In Game Two, Nigma again started with a great lead in the early game. Miracle-'s Phantom Lancer was the strongest hero on the server for the first 20 minutes. But RNG didn't give up and saw a potential comeback by winning big team fights like the following one:
A glimmer of hope was Maroun 'Gh' Merhej with another all-star performance on one of his signature heroes. He threw himself in every fight with Earthshaker to change the odds for his carries.
But the mid game looked better for RNG, Nigma's only chance was to aim for the late game. They delayed every big fight, because they were waiting for Miracle- to carry them to victory.
Eventually RNG found the fight they needed and a well placed Doom on Phantom Lancer opened Nigma's lineup perfectly for Monet and Setsu. The European squad engaged too much in this fight and Miracle- died twice in one minute. A dieback that ended in lost Barracks for the Western team.
The game seemed to be pretty much over at this point, because they didn't have the damage to kill Lifestealer. 50 minutes in the game, Nigma had just one set of Barracks left and RNG had a 28k gold lead. So the Europeans needed an almost impossible fight to find a way back into this game.
This was a perfect opening for Nigma, but the more important fight was just a minute late. A misplay by Setsu ended in an easy kill for the Europeans:
The consequences: Setsu was without buyback, Nigma killed Rosh and pushed high ground to destroy all Barracks. From that point on, RNG had to fight against Mega Creeps. Although Nigma had a good position they waited for the next fight.
So we were able to see the first pro match on this patch to hit the 70-minute mark - and the first time Tier 5 neutral items. Both teams were just waiting for the last and ultimate team fight:
What a finish for Game Two! Nigma won and this gave us the chance to see at least two more games until we'd be able congratulate a new Minor champion.
Nigma aim for the fast victory
After such a draining game both teams tried to switch things up to prevent another super late game. Nigma picked Phantom Lancer once more, but positioned Miracle- in the offlane. Meanwhile, MC's Doom was matched with Gh's Elder Titan on the safelane and to complete the greedy power lineup w33 chose TA.
The fights were tougher and faster in this game:
It was a rather chaotic game: both teams initiated whenever they saw an opponent running around in the open field. However, this playstyle didn't favour RNG at all. Nigma destroyed the Chinese squad in the early and mid game with little chance for a comeback.
After 23 minutes, just a quarter of the time the last game took, RNG was forced to call 'GG' and Nigma was one game away from winning the Minor.
Another 60-Minute game in the Grand Finals with an epic end
A Dark Seer pick on Nigma's side and Spectre for RNG are unusual drafts for this patch and the experts weren't sure how to rate this. Again both teams tried to harass the lanes early on to keep the game short. However, with heroes such as Spectre, OD or Drow Ranger both teams weren't aiming for an early victory.
Although Nigma used some flashy plays to catch their opponents off guard, they didn't have enough damage to actually fight. 37 minutes into the game it was pretty clear: this series would go into a game five. The only open question was how long Nigma can delay the loss. RNG was pushing high ground and this was the moment Gh has been waiting for:
A huge team wipe gave Nigma a small chance for a comeback to win this game and the tournament. RNG, on the other side, kept pushing, because they still had a more than solid 26k gold lead. They pushed high ground once more, but again couldn't finish Nigma. In fact, Spectre died and Nigma saw their chance to turn the game:
Kuro and his team realized that this was the only chance to win the game: Push high ground and go for the 'GG'! With this victory Nigma won the first Minor of 2020 and will be flying to the Major in Leipzig.
Is the Minor winner automatically a favourite for the next Major?
Photo credit: WePlay!