OG Dota 2: The First Back-To-Back TI Champions

by Fabio

OG Dota 2 are one of the best Dota teams of all time. As the only two-time The International winners, they hold a very special place in history. But their road to stardom wasn’t entirely a success story. It took them lots of attempts before they eventually found the right squad to dominate the competitive Dota 2 scene with. 

The History of OG

OG first started out as a project called “(monkey)” Business and was spearheaded by Johan “Notail” Sundstein. When he created a team of aspiring Dota stars, he would never have anticipated the success story that he was about to start writing. Less than two months after the creation of his team, OG signed these players. 

Initially, OG Dota 2 consisted of Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi, David “MoonMeander” Tan, Andreas Franck “Cr1t-” Nielsen, Tal “Fly” Aizik and Notail himself. Their breakthrough came at the Frankfurt Major 2015, where they took out Team Secret in a tense Grand Finals. After that, the team struggled to maintain the same level of play for half a year. At the 2016 Manila Major, their domination of the international scene commenced. Winning the Manila, Boston, and Kiev Majors in a row made them the first team to ever achieve a back-to-back Major victory!

Unfortunately, their performance at The International 2016 told a very different story. Despite finishing first in their group, they immediately faltered in the playoffs bracket. Their attempt at a rebound was foiled by TNC and OG Dota 2 went out without a single playoffs victory. Nonetheless, the achievements around this period rightly made them a super-team. 

The 2017 season was even more of a disappointment. Apart from the Kiev Major, they didn’t manage to win a single premier event. While they did improve on their placement at TI, they still were nowhere close to winning the trophy. 

The OG Dota 2 squad, from left to right: Ceb, Topson, Notail, JerAx, ana (via Gamestar)
From left to right: Ceb, Topson, Notail, JerAx, ana (via Gamestar)

OG at The International 2018: A Surprise Victory

In the lead-up to The International 2018, OG Dota 2 weren’t considered favorites at all. Their last tournament victory had been eights months ago and they appeared to be out of steam. In the group stage, they barely managed to get into the Top 4. 

However, their luck turned around in the playoffs. Immediately, they took out the winners of the other group, VGJ.Storm. That made the analysts rethink their predictions and OG were now definitely on the map as a serious contender. But Evil Geniuses were right around the corner. During the group stage, the team had already dispatched of OG Dota 2 in two 30-minute rounds. There was no reason to expect anything different out of this match.

But OG immediately went to work and in a three-map series, they took out Evil Geniuses. Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen proved his worth as an incredible mid-laner once again. With PSG.LGD, the team had yet another top opponent lined up. In three hard-fought rounds, OG came out on top and secured their Grand Finals spot. PSG had to make a run through the lower bracket, but eventually came back for a finals appearance. 

So the last match of the event was set. Based off of the previous games, OG were now considered favorites for the Aegis trophy. In the first game, they delivered a 34-minute victory. With that, they were only two rounds away from winning The International. However, the next two rounds were quickly acquired by PSG.LGD. Suddenly, OG stood with their backs against the wall. The fourth game cost both teams all of their nerves and after 60 minutes, the OG Dota 2 squad were still fighting. They weren’t willing to give up and finally took PSG to a fifth round. Finally, the latter were broken. Just 37 minutes later, OG hoisted the Aegis trophy! Anathan “ana” Pham was an absolute beast during the Grand Finals, with an average of 11.6 kills per game alone. 

OG at The International 2019: A Reprise Victory

For an entire year, OG didn’t win one single trophy. Still, the team hadn’t undergone any roster changes. For them, the mix of players felt just right. 

And indeed, their line-up was perfectly prepared for TI9. During the group stage, they didn’t drop any maps. This gave them a top seed for the playoffs bracket, where they swept through Evil Geniuses and PSG.LGD on their way to the Grand Finals. There, Team Liquid awaited them. The team wasn’t prepared for what Liquid would throw at them. OG had to concede the first map after 48 minutes, as Topson wasn’t able to contend with Miracle-.

What followed was perhaps one of the best comeback stories of professional Dota. Not only did OG completely turn the tides, they did so in ridiculous style. The Dota 2 OG players completely overwhelmed Liquid. The fourth game lasted less than 30 minutes, after which OG had achieved the back-to-back TI victory!

OG Dota 2 Roster

Out of the original 2015 roster, only Notail has survived. All the other players have gone their own paths, sometimes to great success. Miracle-, for instance has made history under the Team Liquid/Nigma banner. The current line-up features Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan as carry, who made headlines when he won The International 2015 with just 16 years of age. 

Next in line is Topson, who plays solo mid. Apart from Notail, he is the longest standing member of the team, having won both recent TIs under the OG banner. Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng has made himself known as one of the core members of Team Secret, where he has competed since 2016. For OG, he now plays the offlaner position. In terms of TI placings, he has only gotten to fourth place. Martin “Saksa” Sazdov narrowly missed out on the trophy in 2016, where he and Digital Chaos lost in second place against Wings. 

With this lineup, most of the International winning team members have left the team. Nonetheless, the talent that has been newly swept into the OG Dota 2 roster can still prove to be championship-worthy. With the current pandemic grounding them in their countries and halting all offline events, they should have more than enough time to practice and prepare. 

Read this: Arteezy: The Dota 2 Legend

The next offline season lies ready and waiting. But the other teams are also eager to prove themselves, so the battle for the next few trophies will be intense. The International will return eventually – and when that happens, the OG Dota 2 players need to be in top form. Will we see them winning yet another TI trophy?

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