Team Secret stormed into the Pro League scene in Season 8 after a brisk Challenger League season and was quickly crowned DreamHack Valencia champions, finished third in the world at the Paris Major, and ended the season in third place (in Europe).
Despite this remarkable season, the team has suffered an awful start to Season 9, winning just a single game in their first seven -- and that too against the reigning world champions of G2 Esports, making them the first team ever to beat the lineup twice.
When the mid-season transfer window opened, Secret made a significant change, replacing Ryan "Lacky" Stapley with a relatively inexperienced player in Aku "Fonkers" Seppä.
Prior to this, though, we caught up with Team Secret’s Canadian coach, Helbee, at the Six Invitational to ask how they are gonna bounce back from the rough start to their season and to get his thoughts on the new changes that were announced at the event:
What do you think of our grand-finalists, Empire and G2 -- do you think one team is stronger or are they evenly matched?
In the final, I hate to say it, but I think G2 is gonna come out of it victorious again. We’ve seen a little bit of a let down by G2 in this half-season, but so far in this tournament, they’ve just shown up -- they’re just the G2 we’re used to and they play really good.
Could you give us some thoughts Secret’s season so far?
Well, so far obviously it’s not a season we thought we would have. We went from one point away from going to LAN and the Invitational to the last place right now. Obviously, it’s hard but we dropped Lacky and now we need to find a fifth (since confirmed to be Fonkers).
We have time, plenty of time, to work, and with a new (in-game) season come new strats, a new way of playing the game, and that’s what we’re aiming for. There’s not a lot of points between us and the second position, so it’s highly doable; nothing is set in stone right now, so we’re pretty confident about that.
What do you think of Kaid and Nomad coming into the meta -- is it going to change things?
It’ll change a bit. So Kaid opens up some new turtle strats so on maps that have basements like on Oregon, Clubhouse, Bank he’s probably gonna be used as he allows you to deny the hatch, which is not the case on every map -- maybe sometimes with Mute, but Kaid opens that up.
Nomad is not meta changing, but she’s gonna be a new tool in the tool-box really. You have a new option as if you’re a team which struggles with flank watch -- then you’ve got a new utility to work with and she’s gonna be great for that. Even for counter-retakes on plants, she’s gonna be great, too, and we haven't been playing too much with her yet ‘cause everything’s been focused on the Invitational, so the teams we’ve been scrimming have been focused on the Invitational and we’ve been only playing the operators that are available here, so we’ve only started, but I’m sure they’re gonna bring something new and something refreshing after a six month period of a stale meta.
We’ve now had the new balancing changes announced as well, is there anything there which stands out to you?
Whenever Ubisoft do some balancing changes, you always have these very cool, very required and asked-for changes, but then there’s like one that you’re like “why did they do that?” and this time it's Capitao.
Note: The Capitao changes mentioned here have since been rolled back and do not affect the live build of the game.
I feel like Capitao is gonna break a lot of things, so it may be too early to say it’s OP or meta breaking, but I think it’s gonna force a higher ban rate on him. He’s great, he won’t be able to kill people as much as before, but the area denying is gonna flush people out of comfortable positions and that in itself is just very strong... very, very strong.
Other than that, the Dokkaebi (change) is something very very good, people have been asking for that and it’s kinda annoying that you have to answer your phone especially later on in the round when you can’t spend five seconds on your phone and just do nothing, you’ll get killed in the Pro League. Aside from that, all the other changes are great. We saw a demo this morning of the breaching charge and that also I can’t wait to put my hands on that. Maybe that’ll make them more viable and we’ll see less flash wasted for ads’ more destruction brought on that. Maybe it’ll also be a good alternative to Sledge and Buck which is great.
What lessons have you learnt from the other teams here?
At the last Invitational, we saw some new funky strats, some new ways of attacking, new ways of defending. At this Invitational so far there are strategies as we as players or spectators expect cause we’ve seen for a couple of months now cause it has been the same meta because we didn’t have new operators so the strategies are quite the same.
The thing that’s different is the aggression and the way people play together, it’s much more aggressive with the QE crouch spam, it’s harder to hold an angle because the one who’s peaking is probably gonna be the one getting the first shot just because of the way animations work. Now it looks like it’s been fixed, at least for QE spam, it looks like it’s been fixed because we’ve seen a clip from Blitz and when he’s spamming his head is barely moving so that’s good and maybe we can come back to more strat heavy meta which I prefer personally but there’s no right way to do it.
For this Invitational it’s been more about team play, communication and being aggressive at the right time rather than just new strats so this is obviously something we need to work on judging by our standing right now but there’s a way to work on that and we’re already on it.
Do you have anything to say to fans?
Thank you to the Secret fans, you guys are amazing. Keep spamming in chat, we like it even though Ubisoft is probably gonna be on my ass for that. Keep spamming, they’re great, I love it and please please prepare new spam for a new member who’s gonna be announced SoonTM. Thank you.
Team Secret’s next game will be tomorrow night against mousesports (previously known as ENCE eSports) with this roster:
Matthew "meepeY" Sharples (Captain)
Leon "LeonGids" Giddens
David "sTiZze" de Castro
Bryan "Elemzje" Tebessi
Aku "Fonkers" Seppä
Louis "Helbee" Bureau (their coach)