Former teammates faced off as Team Liquid took on Nigma Galaxy in the 2021-2022 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) Spring Tour regional league for Western Europe on Tuesday (12 April).
It was an important match for both teams, as Liquid needed the win to stay in the running for a spot at the Stockholm Major, while Nigma Galaxy fought to avoid relegation.
In the end, it was Liquid who swept the series, with the lion's share of the credit going to carry player Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen’s incredible performance on an unorthodox carry Necrophos pick against his former teammates.
Matumbaman’s carry Necrophos breaks kill record for Necrophos
Nigma Galaxy’s draft in game one was fairly standard.
Team captain Kuro "KuroKy" Salehi Takhasomi played Undying in order to secure the laning stage for Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi on Tiny.
Keeper of the Light was one of Maroun "GH" Merhej’s iconic heroes during their run at The International 7 (TI7) and it made a comeback in game one.
Ivan "MinD_ContRoL" Ivanov took Tidehunter, a good combo with both Undying and Keeper of the Light.
Meanwhile, Nigma Galaxy’s carry player Igor "iLTW" Filatov was unable to play the game and Adrian "Fata" Trinks stood in for the team. Fata would play mid and in both games and took Pangolier in game one.
Nigma Galaxy get a lot of flak for their drafts but in game one they had a fairly solid lineup. Both their support picks are known for dominating the lane, while Pangolier and Tidehunter are teamfight behemoths. The only issue for their draft was the lack of non-ultimate stuns on the team.
While Nigma Galaxy went for a standard draft, Liquid pulled a big surprise in their last pick.
Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg and Samuel "Boxi" Svahn opened the drafting stage with a Sand King and Mirana offlane combo, a well-known duo that is hard to bring down with strong killing potential.
Aydin "iNSaNiA" Sarkohi played the hard support Bane, another set-up for Mirana, and one of the best counters to Pangolier’s Rolling Thunder ultimate. Liquid noticed the lack of stuns on their opponent’s draft and wisely took Storm Spirit for Michael "miCKe" Vu.
MATUMBAMAN’s last pick Necrophos was a huge surprise.
Necrophos has always been played in the midlane or the offlane and this would be the hero’s debut as a carry.
That said, MATUMBAMAN had picked the best hero against his former teammates, as Nigma Galaxy lacked both the stuns to control him and the burst damage to bring him down.
Both teams are known for their laning prowess, however, due to playing with a stand-in, it was difficult for Nigma Galaxy to get all their players on the same page.
Liquid took full advantage of the situation by bringing down Fata three times in the first nine minutes of the game.
Liquid handily won the laning stage and amassed a 4,000 gold advantage 11 minutes into the game. The team had a perfect lineup for grouping up and taking over the map, and it's hard to deny just how crucial MATUMBAMAN was to this plan.
His ability to withstand all the punishment his former teammates dished out made it easy for Liquid to take fights.
This became crystal clear at the 21-minute mark, when MATUMBAMAN's carry Necrophos endured multiple ultimates from Nigma Galaxy, didn’t even lose half his health, and got a Double Kill.
Once it became clear that Necrophos was unkillable in game one, Liquid decided to simply throw their carry player at all five members of Nigma Galaxy and let him do all the work.
It was one of the most dominant carry performances of the Spring Tour, with MATUMBAMAN even getting an Ultra Kill at 28 minutes in.
Not only did MATUMBAMAN finish the game without a single death, his 23 total kills in game one also became the highest amount of kills Necrophos has ever recorded in a pro match.
It’s also the third-highest kills a player has ever managed to secure in one game in history. An absolute masterclass by the Finnish carry.
MATUMBAMAN continues his dominance in game two
Liquid had a more meta draft in the second game of the series.
Keeper of the Light and Hoodwink for iNSaNiA and Boxi are a versatile support duo that provides the team with a stun, multiple nukes, a Break, and an area-of-effect heal.
Necrophos made his second appearance in the series, this time for Zai in the offlane, while miCKe would hold enemies down on Pangolier. MATUMBAMAN would play a more late-game-centric carry in Terrorblade.
Both teams ended up picking heroes the other side abused in the first game. For Liquid, it was Keeper of the light and Pangolier, while Nigma Galaxy picked Bane and Mirana for their supports.
MinD_ContRoL’s Dragon Knight was the perfect setup for Mirana, while Fata played the mid Pugna — a high-risk, high reward pick in Nigma Galaxy’s most important game of the Tour. Miracle would have to carry the team late game, and what better pick for him than Medusa?
The laning stage went slightly in favor of Nigma Galaxy, a much-needed victory for the team after the one-sided first game. However, Liquid had the superior team fight lineup and abused that to secure three kills at the 11-minute mark while giving nothing away.
MinD_ContRoL had a fantastic laning stage but suffered as the game went on. Nigma Galaxy’s offlaner was brought down four times between the 9 to 14-minute marks, greatly slowing down his farm and allowing Liquid to play on their side of the map.
Game two was a more subdued affair compared to the opening game of the series. Both teams were relying heavily on their carries to win the match, and because of that, game two featured more pickoffs and fewer big team fights.
It would all come down to one massive fight between the two teams, and it happened 45 minutes into the match.
Nigma Galaxy were almost 20,000 gold behind but Miracle was the most farmed hero on the map by an impressive margin. The result was a 90-second fight with six buybacks and 11 kills.
Nigma Galaxy knew the game was over after that fight and tapped out one minute later.
MATUMBAMAN was the MVP of the game again, as he went 5-0-10 in game two. His overall score in both games was a perfect 28-0-19.
MATUMBAMAN: "We're getting better from game to game"
After the series was over, MATUMBAMAN sat down with the broadcast panel for a post-game interview.
The first question for Liquid's carry was his thoughts on the Harpy Scout, a creep Tundra Esports abused to defeat Nigma Galaxy earlier in the Tour, and he did not mince words.
“That creep shouldn't exist in the game, it should have been removed in like day one," said MATUMBAMAN.
Liquid are currently 4-2 in the Spring Tour, a solid result for the team thus far. However, it is a step-down from their 6-1 score in the Winter Tour.
When asked about how he would evaluate their current performance compared to the previous Tour, the Finnish carry said they did better in the first Tour and were focused on improving right now.
"I mean we are definitely catching pace, I feel like the first season was a bit easy because we had some strategies nailed down from TI to going to the league. And now we're trying to catch up the pace and a lot of things changed, so I can't really value it," said MATUMBAMAN.
"I would say we were in a better spot in the first season and now we're like getting better from game to game, and we also have like these fun strategies like Necrophos carry."
Speaking of Necrophos carry, MATUMBAMAN went for a Spirit Vessel, Boots of Travel, and Radiance in game one.
When asked why he went for these items, the carry player for Team Liquid said that he believed carry heroes should be able to fight early if the team needs them,
"I feel like position one still has to fill some roles in the game, like you need to be able to do damage, you can't just pick a fun hero and expect it to work with some Lotus Orb, like that just doesn't fly. So you gotta amp yourself, be strong. And then it usually works out," said MATUMBAMAN.
Liquid’s next match will be against Gaimin Gladiators on 20 April. A victory there would secure them a spot at the upcoming Stockholm Major in May.
For Nigma Galaxy there is no good news. The team is 0-6 and will be relegated to Division II in the next Tour.
It also means they have no chance to qualify for TI11 through DPC points and will have to go through the qualifiers to earn their spot.
Nigma Galaxy have one more match against arch-rivals Team Secret on 16 April, a must-win match for Team Secret.
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.