Nigma Galaxy's struggling Dota 2 team scored its first win of the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season over OG on Thursday (26 January).
And while most were hyped for Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf's first match against his former team, it was the heroics of midlaner Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan that stole the show.
Prior to the matchup, OG looked dominant as usual while Nigma Galaxy were in free fall.
OG had a 4-1 record, with wins over Team Secret, Gaimin Gladiators, Into The Breach (ITB), and Entity while their only loss came at the hands of The International 11 (TI11) champions Tundra Esports. Meanwhile, Nigma Galaxy lost all their previous matches against Tundra, ITB, Gaimin Gladiators, and Team Liquid.
If Nigma Galaxy were to avoid getting relegated to Division II, they needed this win over OG, and SumaiL stepped up when his team needed him the most.
After OG convincingly won the 48-minute series opener, SumaiL showcased his signature aggression with Leshrac in a 26-minute stomp in game two to force a decider.
SumaiL made good use of Leshrac's synergy with Bloodstone to initiate fights, tank OG's damage while dishing out a ton of his own, and make space for the rest of Nigma Galaxy to follow up.
This was most evident in a fight for Roshan at the 17-minute mark, where SumaiL walked into the OG heroes in the pit and forced them to focus on him. This gave ATF's Slark the chance to steal the Aegis, all while the damage from SumaiL allowed his team to clean up the fight and score a teamwipe.
OG's backs were broken after that disastrous fight, tapping out less than 10 minutes later after a relentless Nigma Galaxy siege.
SumaiL led the way in his team's game two win, scoring a series-high 13 kills and 15 assists against two deaths to pace their 32-14 kill lead. ATF also pitched in with a clean 10 kills and 15 assists of his own.
Nigma Galaxy then rode their momentum in another one-sided affair in game three, even if it took them almost 41 minutes to secure the series victory.
SumaiL once again fueled his team's aggression, this time on an unusual mid Keeper of the Light pick, marking the first time the hero saw action on that role this season in Western Europe.
Nigma Galaxy's midlaner made good use of his hero's insane mobility with an early Boots of Travel purchase to counter OG's gank attempts around the map while and set the tempo for his own team at the same time.
SumaiL then purchased Aghanim's Scepter to unlock Keeper of the Light's Will-O-Wisp ability, which allowed his team to score easy pickoffs on OG heroes that were unable to fight into Nigma Galaxy's deathball.
Despite a valiant attempt by OG to get to the late game and hope for a comeback, Nigma Galaxy methodically picked apart their base and forced the GG call after almost 41 minutes of action.
SumaiL once again topped the kill board to lead his team to their first victory of the season, putting up 12 kills and 15 assists against two deaths.
In the post-match interview, Nigma Galaxy's position 4 support player Maroun "GH" Merhej praised SumaiL's performance, saying that he "really stepped up."
"I feel like SumaiL has really stepped up, he's an amazing player for me. Sitting behind him, watching him play, even in pub games sometimes I like how he outplays almost everyone. He always owns mid lane so I'm happy about that, I feel like he's a special type of player," said GH.
GH added that the team is taking things "step by step" as they try to avoid relegation and improve over the course of the season.
"Honestly, I believe we just have to focus on our games. As players, we will be the difference, I believe truly it boils down to us playing good, or playing bad. But I prefer playing good," said GH.
Nigma Galaxy only has two matches left to play this season against Team Secret and Entity.
Their match against Secret, who currently have a 1-5 record, will be especially pivotal. With ITB being the first team headed into relegation, the loser of the Nigma Galaxy-Secret match will most likely be the second squad headed into Division II.
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