If Michael Jordan has his "flu game" then Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi has his "food poisoning game(s)."
Team Nigma's superstar midlaner overcame a bout of food poisoning and led his team to a huge 2-0 victory over top CIS/East EU squad Virtus.pro (VP) in their opening match at the upper bracket of the WePlay AniMajor Playoffs.
The match between Nigma and VP was supposed to be the third match of the first day of the AniMajor Playoffs.
However, Miracle experienced a lot of discomfort due to an apparent case of food poisoning early into game one. As a result, the match was put on hold and later postponed to be the last match of the day in order to give Miracle time to receive medical attention. After recovering and getting an IV drip, Miracle was later cleared to play.
Despite being incapacitated by his illness a mere couple of hours before, Miracle had a phenomenal showing with Invoker — arguably the most difficult hero to play in all of Dota 2 and one of his signature picks — to lead Nigma to a crucial victory in game one of their match against VP.
In the pivotal clash of game one, Miracle's Invoker was the primary target for VP due to the overwhelming amount of damage and crowd control he was providing for his team. Even as he was getting focused by the entire enemy team and still feeling the effects of his earlier bout with food poisoning, Miracle absolutely outplayed VP to lead Nigma in winning what ended up being the deciding clash of the game.
In the clip above, keep an eye on Miracle as he survived getting hit by a Reverse Polarity from Danil "gpk" Skutin's Magnus — thanks to Maroun "GH" Merhej's Rubick quickly stealing and using the spell on gpk in response — then quickly escapes into the nearby treeline. While Miracle was able to evade gpk by hugging the trees and using Deafening Blast to stay out of vision, he was later forced out after getting hit by Terrorize from Vitalie "Save-" Melnic's Dark Willow.
Intent on taking Miracle down, Save used both Bedlam and Shadow Realm to bring Miracle down to just a sliver of health. However, Miracle was able to evade what would have been the killing blow from Shadow Realm with a timely usage of his Blink Dagger.
Miracle continued to be the bane of VP's existence in team fights, as he made good use of Invoker's Aghanim's Scepter ability, Cataclysm, to annihilate one or two VP heroes in an instant. In the final clash of game one, Miracle bought back after getting killed just so he could use Cataclysm to wipe out what still remained of the enemy team.
Miracle played a less flashy hero in Razor for game two, but he was still instrumental in Nigma taking a 34-minute victory to secure the 2-0 series sweep.
With their victory over VP, Miracle and Nigma advance to the upper bracket semifinals against Chinese powerhouse PSG.LGD on Friday (11 June). It also secures them at least a Top 6 finish, US$25,000, and 300 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points.
While those DPC points significantly improve Nigma's chances of securing a direct invite to The International 10 (TI10), they are not yet guaranteed a spot in this year's iteration of Dota 2's annual world championship tournament.
Nigma need to reach the grand finals and earn the 450 DPC points that comes with a Top 2 finish in the WePlay AniMajor to fully guarantee themselves a TI10 direct invite. While such a feat will surely be difficult, with the way Nigma playing right now — especially after Miracle still excelled despite a bout with food poisoning — it surely seems to be in the realm of possibility.
The WePlay AniMajor will run until 13 June as the remaining teams battle for their cut of the US$500,000 prize pool and 2,700 DPC point pool. For everything you need to know about the WePlay AniMajor, check here.
Igor "iLTW" Filatov
Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi
Ivan "MinD_ControL" Ivanov
Maroun "GH" Merhej
Kuro "Kuroky" Takhasomi
Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko
Danil "gpk" Skutin
Dmitry "DM" Dorokhin
Vitalie "Save-" Melnic
Illias "Kingslayer" Ganeev
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