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The first DPC season came to a close in August 2018 in Vancouver. There were a lot of stories that can probably be fashioned into fairy tales for the future generations, but the story that takes the cake is the one that unfolded in Vancouver itself: OG winning The International 2018. A lot of people had OG pegged as the one of the teams that would go home after the group stages, but as history is witness, we got to see something completely miraculous that left the Dota 2 community’s jaws dropped for a quite a while. Sitting here, pondering about the organization, all I can think about is to pay tribute to OG by reminiscing the major periods from the organization’s conception all the way to the TI8 victory in Vancouver. So here goes nothing…

It was 2015. Johan ‘BidDaddyN0tail’ Sundstein had just gotten off a disappointing run with Cloud9 in The International 2015 and had left the team. His good friend and partner in crime from the Heroes of Newerth days, Tal ‘Fly’ Aizak had had a better run with Complexity, but had parted ways with the organization after the event. And then there was this name that kept showing up in YouTube videos – Miracle. The clips gave the hint of a player with a crazy amount of talent, but that can be misleading, especially with pub games. But the two ex-HoN players did decide to put their faith in the unknown entity as they formed a team of their own. Completing the roster was Davin ‘MoonMeander’ Tan, who played alongside Fly in Complexity and Andreas ‘Crit’ Nielsen, who had played alongside Miracle in Balkan Bears for a tournament.

 

 

Season 1: 2016-2017


OG 1.0 (image taken from www.liquipedia.net)

There are a lot of teams that get created in the aftermath of a TI and most of them last less than a couple of months. So we had another one called Monkey Business. Big whoop, right? As it turned out, it was a big whoop! The 2015-2016 was the first season Valve announced Majors to have points of excitement. The first one these would be the Frankfurt Major and Monkey Business went through the European qualifiers dropping just two games and securing the top seed. That was probably an indication that they really did mean business! The thing that caught my eye and made the team stand out was their obsession with the Tiny-Io combo. Tiny back in the day was not the common pick he is today. The stone giant was a niche pick who went well only with an Io. Monkey Business played that combo to perfection and with Notail on the Tiny and Crit on the Io. Notail was himself a very accomplished Io player (and probably still is) thanks to his days at Cloud9, which meant he knew the limits of the hero. A lot of panelists agreed on the fact that that was a major reason the team could execute the combo so successfully. Monkey Business had an insanely high win rate with the numbers getting better for the games they got their hands on the Tiny-Io combo.

Monkey Business

Games played: 59
Games won: 43 (72.88% win rate)
Games won with Tiny-Io: 9 out of 11 (81.82% win rate)

On 31st October 2015, Monkey Business evolved into OG with the addition of a new sponsor, Hitbox.

With the new title and a brand new green logo, OG headed to the Frankfurt Major in November 2015, the first Valve Major in the history of Dota 2 (played on patch 6.85). OG were nowhere close to the favorites. The teams everyone had their eyes on were Evil Geniuses, who had just won TI5 and Team Secret, who were fresh off the back off a tournament victory (MLG World Finals 2015). A reason why OG were really fun to watch was that they weren’t afraid of experimenting. In the first game of group stages at the Frankfurt Major, OG picked a mid Earthshaker and safelane Bristleback and made short work of Vega Squadron. But the team fell a bit short after that, losing twice to Vega Squadron (both time 2-1) and ended up in the lower bracket of the playoffs.

The first game of the lower bracket was a best of 1 elimination game against Fnatic and in many ways, that was the game that could have changed the course of events for OG. Everyone was banning out either Tiny, Io or both against OG, but Fnatic let them slide through the banning phase without a plan to pick up either of the heroes. It was only natural OG were going to pickup their bread and butter heroes, which they did and scored a comfortable win in a very precarious situation. It was inexplicable and maybe OG were a bit surprised as well.

Had Fnatic decided to ban the Io there, it could have been a totally different game which they could have won. If that had happened and OG would have been eliminated, the entire course of Dota 2 history would have been rewritten. But it didn’t and the rest as they say, is history. High on the confidence of that victory, OG made a miraculous run through the lower bracket to win the Frankfurt Major. The Green Dream had their backs against the walls quite a few times being just one game away from elimination, but they came through. Two games that I feel like watching over and over again are games 2 and 3 against Evil Geniuses in the lower bracket final. EG annihilated OG in game 1 and it seemed OG had finally met their match, but MoonMeander’s Earthshaker in game 2 and Miracle’s battle Alchemist in game 3 were marvels to watch. That’s something I really miss watching – the Battle Alchemist. Miracle played it to perfection not just against EG but also against Secret in the grand finals. It was Miracle’s Alchemist and Arteezy’s Anti-Mage playing the farm game, but when brought to face each other, Alch just destroyed AM.

OG beat Team Secret in the grand finals of the Frankfurt Major. That was the win that put OG on the Dota 2 map as one of the top teams out there and a team to look out for. The Green Dream followed that up with a DreamLeague Season 4 win and 4th place at The Summit 4 to end 2015.

The start of the new year came with a new patch – 6.86 (released about two weeks before the new year). A big loss to OG was a nerf to one of their favorite heroes., Shadow Fiend. Shadow Raze mana cost increase took the hero out of the game. The teams headed to Shanghai in March 2016 for the second Major of the season, you guessed it, the Shanghai Major. Although OG dominated their group and made it to the upper bracket, their performance in the playoffs was a lot different than what most would have expected from them. A 2-1 loss against Team Secret put them in the lower bracket and although they did beat Virtus Pro (that VP team looked nothing like the one we see today) in a best of 1 game, they were eliminated when they lost 2-1 to Fnatic in the next round. It was something not many would have expected. OG did come out saying they hadn’t practiced enough for the Shanghai Major and it showed. Team Secret went on to win the Shanghai Major, beating Team Liquid 3-1 in the grand finals. OG did come out saying they hadn’t practiced enough for the Shanghai Major and it showed. However, they reiterated on the importance of friendship and made no changes to the roster heading into the final third of the season.

Jumping from the Shanghai Major to the Manila Major (March to June), there was one big change OG underwent; something that would have an effect long into the future. It was in May 2016 that the organization brought on Sebastian ‘7kingMad’ Debs as a coach. During this time, there were three big teams vying for the mantle of the best team: OG, Newbee and Team Liquid. Team Secret, even though they won the Shanghai Major, disbanded a few days after that. So the fight was amongst these three and after Ceb’s arrival, things started to pick up for OG. The Green Dream finished 3rd at Epicenter and then went on to win the Manila Major, defeating Team Liquid 3-1 in the grand finals. They also beat Newbee 2-1 in the upper bracket finals, stamping their authority as top dog. Crit won the MVP for the tournament and it was mostly for his Elder Titan plays, a hero not even in the meta! An important point to mention here is that the team acknowledged Ceb’s role in this victory. Notail mentioned it on stage after collecting the trophy and the players made sure they included it on social media. A lot of times after a win, players tend to get all the attention and the coach is lost in the commotion. It was big of OG to make sure that did not happen in the euphoria.

The team’s confidence was so high that not only did they win ESL One Frankfurt after that, they beat Na’Vi 3-0 in the finals with Miracle playing a support Lion in game 3 and Crit on the carry Riki.

With OG in such great form, it was expected that they would mount a serious challenge for the TI6 trophy. Even though they lost 3-1 to Wings Gaming in the grand finals of The Summit 5, the outfit from Europe still went to The International 2016 as the favorites. But TI can be a cruel competition, with a lot of pressure to deal with. The burden of expectations had had a toll on Team Secret at TI5, and it did the same for OG at TI6. Losing in the upper bracket to MVP Phoenix, a team they had destroyed at the Manila Major, OG found themselves fighting for their tournament lives against TNC. Having already beaten TNC in the group stages, this did not seem like a monumental task. But there was the pressure of expectations again, coupled with the revival of Jimmy ‘Demon’ Ho to the team that showed the final score line as 2-0 in favor of TNC!

It had to be the upset of the tournament and OG were sent packing with a lowly 9-12th place finish. Wings Gaming surprised a lot of people by winning TI6, and the superb season that OG had left in their wake seemed like a distant dream. Although their performance at The International 2016 was sub par, the community expected OG to stick given that they did emphasize on friendship and trust as main qualities necessary for a successful team. So it came as a bit of a shock when the team announced that three member of the squad would be leaving and it would only be Notail and Fly carrying the legacy forward.

Season Stats:

Games played: 189
Games won: 119 (62.96% win rate)


OG’s most played heroes in the 2015-2016 season (image taken from www.datdota.com)

 

Season 2: 2017-2018

As Fly mentioned in his tweet, Miracle and Crit left in search of greener pastures while Moon was (not mentioned but deciphered) forced out due to differences in thoughts.

Jerax for Crit – This was the best replacement OG could have found for their position 4. Crit and Jerax were the best position 4s in the business back then (maybe even now?) and getting in Jerax made sure that the loss of Crit didn’t leave a gaping hole.

S4 for MoonMeander – Another great replacement. Although S4 played mid for Alliance, his hero pool comprised a lot of tempo controllers which are played in the offlane. He took to his new role like Slardar to water.

Ana for Miracle – This was the change that had everyone wondering if OG would ever be the same again. Ana was a relatively unknown entity in the Dota 2 world and filling Miracle’s shoes would be one of the hardest tasks. But as history is witness, he sure was up to it!

The new roster took some time to get settled, but they were there by November. Elimination Mode 2.0 was an online tournament (loved the format of Elimination mode, hope they bring it back) with not a big prize pool, but I feel it played a big part in shaping OGs season. The Green Dream had a point to prove that the team wasn’t a one season wonder and the rise to the top again started with defeating Evil Geniuses 3-2 in the grand finals of Elimination Mode 2.0. The last game was a nail biter and OG prevailed thanks to some antics by Notail’s Lone Druid. A few weeks later, OG travelled to the Boston Major and upheld their status as Major champions by defeating Ad Finem 3-1 in the grand finals. This was the first Valve Major that deployed a Swiss format for the group stages and a single elimination playoff bracket, which meant every game was an elimination game. Virtus Pro were on the rise back then (same team as now, except LiL for RodjeR) and were the favorites for the tournament. But EG took them out 2-0 and OG made short work of EG, beating the North American outfit in two quick games. All the questions pointing towards Ana’s inclusion in the team were answered as the young Australian proved his worth in the Major win. The Boston Major was the last tournament played on the Dota 2 6.xx patches, before Dota 2 7.00 was released in December 2016. OG ended the pre Dota 2 7.00 phase (and 2016) on a high!

The year 2017 started with chaos in the Dota 2 world as patch 7.00 had just been released. The community and players alike were still adjusting to talents, shrines and the numerous other changes the patch had brought with it. EG got their revenge on OG in the grand finals of Dota Pit Season 5 in Split, Croatia as the new patches kept coming for balance. The first big tournament of the year was the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017, which had 12 teams fighting for over $600,000. It felt like a Major in itself. The tournament was played on the 7.04 patch, in which a few select heroes became very dominant. Alchemist, Lifestealer and Magnus in core roles and Monkey King and Earth Spirits as roaming supports was the crux of each game. There were two standout teams at the event: OG and IG. Invictus Gaming had risen out of nowhere, riding on the shoulders of a resurgent Burning. Alchemist was a hero both Ana and Notail flourished on, so OG had that going for them. Besides, there was always Naga Siren or Terrorblade to get them out of a mucky situation. This was the event where OG got the reputation of being dependent on illusion heroes (Alchemist was a part of the extended illusion family, always building a Manta Style). OG did manage to beat IG 2-1 in the upper bracket final, but IG were high on spirit and it was just meant to be Burning’s tournament. They came back to annihilate OG 3-0 in the grand finals. OG put up tweets to congratulate Invictus Gaming..

but did take a lot slack from the community for getting beat so easily in the grand finals. Notail lightened the mood by reading out some of the stuff put up on Reddit!

The teams all headed from Shanghai to Kiev to play, what would be, the last Valve Major before the DPC system took over. This patch was played on 7.05 and necessary nerfs to Alchemist and Monkey King were made by IceFrog, which was sure to make the Kiev Major a lot more interesting than DAC 2017 (towards the end, DAC had become a drag with the same heroes and really long games). The Kiev Major was a lively tournament with the crowd screaming their lungs out in support of the home team, Virtus Pro. There were also a lot of banners and chants for Na’Vi, but seeing as Na’Vi hadn’t qualified for the tournament, it is safe to say VP were the crowd favorites. The Kiev Major also has a single elimination bracket and this was where Virtus Pro stepped it up. They had a point to prove, having not qualified for DAC and they did just that by getting the top seed in the group stages and eliminating Invictus Gaming to make it to the grand finals. OG did their part by eliminating EG 2-0 in the semi-finals in an encore of the Boston Major. The stage was set for a great final: VP vs OG. It went all the way up to a game 5 and Virtus Pro were on the verge of winning game 5. They had taken a hefty lead in the kills department, leading 22-5. But there was, and still is a fighting spirit in OG which makes them never give up. A couple of well-orchestrated smoke ganks brought them right back into the game and get control. Eventually, the three time Major champions closed it out with Ana’s Troll Warlord doing a ton of heavy lifting. The reactions from the two coaches, Ceb and Artstyle in True Sight is testament to how unexpected this result was. But there they were, four time Major winners, OG!

So here they were, a year from the Manila Major, with three new players but a similar dominating position. This had to be their year to win The International. But something strange happened after the Kiev Major. OG lost form and never really gained it back. The teams win rate plummeted from about 66% up to April to a lowly 47% from May to the end of TI7. They sort of hit their peak in Kiev and from there, it was all a tumble downwards. There were speculations that the team took a lot of time off after winning the Major, but like I said, all speculations. It was also around this time that Team Liquid, Newbee and LFY (LGD Forever Young) started garnering momentum. In the tournaments that followed up to TI7, the best OG could do was a fourth place finish at MDL 2017. A possible reason could have been the continuous patch changes after Dota 2 7.00 was released. After patches changing in quick succession, IceFrog and Valve decided to settle on 7.06, which was a patch with a lot of big changes like the mid lane having an extra creep for the first 15 minutes of the game. It made the game a lot faster as compared to the previous patches. OG weren’t able to decipher the patch as well as other teams like Liquid and Newbee. So as the teams headed to Seattle for The International 2017, OG weren’t quite the favorites; that spot was taken up by Team Liquid and Virtus Pro. But as two time Major winners in the season, there were still quite a bit of expectations on their shoulders.

Sometime between the Kiev Major and TI7, OG brought on Red Bull as their partners and underwent a logo change. Red Bull had supported the team in their journey for a long time, especially in setting up boot camps before big tournaments. This announcement officially got them onboard as the team’s partners. The new logo does look nice, but it put calling the team the ‘Green Dream’ on the backfoot. I don’t think they would be complaining about that, though.

The International 2017 was an eventful one. But OG were not a contributing factor to the eventfulness. The Green Dream could not make it to the upper bracket in the group stages and started out in the lower bracket. They did win two matches on the trot in the lower bracket, the second one against TNC to get revenge for TI6, but that was pretty much it. In the third round of the lower bracket, LGD Gaming asserted their dominance over OG and sent them packing. OG did end up finishing 7th-8th, which was a bit better than the previous year. But it was nothing close to what was expected by a team of their stature. On a side note, what made TI7 eventful was Team Liquid’s lower bracket run amongst a flurry of Chinese powerhouses to win the whole thing and keep the trend of a Western team winning an odd TI going.

Season Stats:

Games played: 175
Games won: 109 (62.29% win rate)
Win rate from September 2016 to April 2017: 66.42%
Win rate from May 2017 to August 2017: 47.37%

OG’s most played heroes in the 2016-2017 season (image taken from www.datdota.com)

 

Season 3: 2017-2018

The first two seasons were unpredictable ones for OG, season 3 takes the cake. The highs and lows of Dota 2, or for that matter any other esport (or even life, maybe?!) can be perfectly captured through this season’s journey. It all started with Ana taking a break and Roman ‘Resolution’ being added to the mix. Ana said he would be back to professional Dota 2 but needed to be away from the game for a while. Resolution seemed to be like the perfect solution to fill the position (too much rhyming?).

The Ukranian had impressed at TI7 and how. Team Empire’s Chappie could not get a visa for TI7 and Empire had to play with Resolution as a stand-in. Resolution’s team, Planet Odd, runner-up for TI6, had failed to qualify for TI7 making him available for the gig and he sure made the most of it. Doing some heavy lifting in the position 1 role, the Ukranian took Team Empire to a 7th-8th position finish, something not many would have expected. The journey included eliminating crowd favorites Evil Geniuses with a 2-0 bashing. Resolution played Sven in both games (back then when Sven was still a good carry *tears*) and made short work of the NA team.

OG just couldn’t go wrong here, right? Wrong. The start of the season turned out to be one of the worst periods for the organization. The first DPC season was lined up with a lot of tournaments, but the problem was, with OG losing their star status towards the end of the 2016-2017 season, the direct invites stopped coming. So they had their work cut out for them to play through the qualifiers. A major problem facing them was Team Secret. Secret were in a similar situation as OG, but their new lineup seemed to be working out a lot better. Qualifier after qualifier, OG kept getting thwarted by either Secret or at times, some of the lesser teams. The first LAN the team qualified to was a Minor, Dota Pit and that was after a grueling 5 game series with Hellraisers. But their woes continued in the Major qualifying department. OG failed to qualify for ESL One Hamburg and DreamLeague Season 8, the only two Majors happening before the turn of the year.

 

The only ray of hope for Green Dream (or the Navy Blue Dream, if you will) was that they had made it to a few Minors and were adapting to the new team. Granted, it was just one new player but with Resolution, it is always the case that he is the focal point in the team; the player getting the farm priority. That can take a while to adjust to. With the end of the year approaching, OG travelled to Eastwards to mount a challenge for MDL Macau. They did more than just mount a challenge, they won it! It was the first trophy for the Organization after the Kiev Major and it seemed to be the turning point for the new stack. Granted, MDL Macau did not have a lot of top teams and Virtus Pro were playing with a stand-in (ArtStyle for Solo), but it was still a Minor victory (no pun intended).

With their first DPC points on the board, they set out for their next destination, Los Angeles! The Summit 8 was where OG would try to consolidate their MDL Macau win. Virtus Pro took the plaudits for The Summit 8 with OG finishing 4th, losing 2-1 to Fnatic in the semi-finals. It was still more points to add to their DPC tally and a 4th place finish wasn’t all that shambolic. All-in-all, the team finished 2017 on a high and seemed confident going into 2018.

2018 did in fact, start on a positive not for OG. After finishing 4th again in Captain’s Draft 4.0, they knocked qualifiers out of the part one after the other. ESL One Katowice, PGL Bucharest, DAC 2018 and Epicenter XL were all in the bag by the middle of February. OG went on streak of something like 25 games unbeaten. Mind you, this was a period when there weren’t too many tournaments and the streak was only in the qualifiers. With Team Secret now getting direct invites, the qualifiers had gotten a tad bit easier. Nevertheless, it was an achievement and a boost in confidence.

When the first Major of 2019, ESL Katowice, arrived, everyone was curious on how the renewed OG would fare against the top teams. Their first game was against Vici Gaming and it started out very well for the European outfit, only for VG to make a comeback and dump OG into the lower bracket. The format consisted of brackets for the group stages, and even though OG managed to win two rounds in the lower bracket, they were no match for Team Liquid, who brushed them aside 2-0. OG ended up taking 7th-8th place, but PGL Bucharest was right around the corner to make amends. But instead of making amends, they ended up finishing 11th-12th. That was the last straw and the organization decided that a change was needed. The change came in the form of Resolution as the other four (five including Ceb) had been together for a long time. Reso was shown the door and instead of recruiting a new player, coach Ceb was put into the position 1 role.

There was a lot of backlash to this change from the community. Clearly, the team wasn’t clicking. But Reso had been playing some good Dota. Truth be told, it was only Reso and Jerax that had been consistent throughout with the other three not even close to their best. It was a harsh decision, especially from Reso’s point of view, but it was one that had to be made. OG had an abysmal record against the top teams by the end of PGL Bucharest.

OG’s record against top teams since TI7 to the end of the PGL Bucharest

Even with the change in personal, the bad results continued. It wasn’t surprising as they hadn’t addressed the main issue and had instead, gotten rid of one of the better players. Also, in his playing days, Ceb had been an offlaner. To thrust him into the position 1 role did not seem like the best thing to do. Of all the Majors that OG played after kicking Reso, the bets result they could achieve was 5th-6th at Epicenter XL and ESL One Birmingham. By then, the team wasn’t even considered a top team and there was no way they would be placed in the contenders for The International 2018. It happens, right? A team dominates, has bad patches, maybe makes a comeback or disbands. This was maybe expected, after dominating for a good year and a half. What was not expected though, was one co-founder Fly and S4 leaving the team just a few weeks before TI8.

It came as a shock to everyone, and when I say everyone, I include Ceb in it.

Not only was Fly OG’s co-founder, but he was also a very close friend of Notail’s. The pair had played together since their Heroes of Newerth days, as I mentioned earlier and had founded OG together. For Fly to abandon at such a crucial moment, I don’t think anyone including Notail saw that coming. When I spoke with Notail regarding this event in Vancouver, he refused to comment about it. On talking with Fly regarding the same, he said the team just was not working out and his main goal was to win TI8. When a team like Evil Geniuses comes calling, there is always a good chance that you will make it far at TI. But it was the end of an era for OG, with one of the strongest pillars of the organization pulling himself away.

So there they were. Notail, Jerax and Ceb – about three months away from The International 2018 and missing two players. But if there’s one thing OG has been good at, it has been scouting talent. Notail and Ceb decided to change roles, going to position 5 and position 3 respectively and brought in an old face and a fresh face to fight for a place in Vancouver, where TI8 took place.


OG’s lineup for TI8 (image taken from www.liquipedia.net)

Ana returned to OG after a long break and an unsuccessful stint with Team Echo. The fresh face was Topias ‘Topson’ Taavitsainen. Topson was a known known name in the European pub scene and the top players knew of his ability. He hadn’t had too much success in the professional scene though and the only LAN he had been to before TI8 was WESG when he played for Finalnd.

A special mention needs to made for OG’s manager, Evany Chang. When I spoke with Notail in Seattle during TI7, he mentioned that a successful team needs seven members. The five players, the coach and the manager. Evany was OGs manager for a long time and even when Fly left, she continued with the position till the end of TI8. With all the cold war happening between Fly and the rest of the squad (at least Notail and Ceb), it’s even more creditable that Evany was able to keep the emotional side of things at bay and work with the team.

Like the blog post mentioned, OG withdrew from The Supermajor for obvious reasons. But their time together gelling as a team and scriming together seemed to be paying dividends. OG breezed through the EU TI8 qualifiers going unbeaten in the group stages and dropping just two games in the playoffs.


OG’s run in the TI8 EU qualifiers (image taken from www.liquipedia.net)

Going to The International 2018 was very different for OG as an organization.  In the two previous iterations of the tournament, they had gone as either favorites or one of the better teams. This time, it seemed more like they were taking up a filler role; one of those teams who is bound to go out either in the group stages or probably the first round of the lower bracket. It was not because the team was bad, but other teams travelling to Vancouver had proved themselves at some point in the season and definitely seemed better than OG. But taken with a positive attitude, this kind of worked in favor of OG. There was no burden of expectations on their shoulders for one. They could just play their hearts out not wondering about where they would finish. Another was that besides the 15 or so games of the qualifiers, no one had seen them play and had any data to gauge them. And in the end, that did play a big part!

 

The International 2018

The TI8 group stages started on the 15th of August. The first two days were daunting for OG, with games against PSG.LGD, Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses. They managed to take a game of PSG.LGD (best of 2 series), but couldn’t do so against either Liquid or EG. The table looked bad for OG after day two as they stood at a lowly 7th out of 9 teams.

But the toughest teams of the group were now behind them. LGD, Liquid and EG were pretty much expected to get the upper bracket slots. The last slot for the upper bracket was the one to fight for. And that is exactly what OG did on day three and four. From a 3-5 record after day two, the team went 5-1 on day three to get to 8-6 and 1-1 on the last day to land up with a final score of 9-7 and the 4th place in the group! Quite a good start written off by a lot of people before the tournament even began.

Team Liquid topped OG’s group (Group A) while VGJ.Storm surprised everyone by pipping Virtus Pro and team Secret for the top seed. VGJ.Storm got to pick their opponents for the first round of the playoffs and unsurprisingly, they chose OG over PSG.LGD. OG did seem to be the not-strongest (weakest seems like the wrong word to use here) from group A, but they didn’t get the worst deal when VGJ.Sotrm picked them. Sure, the North American team was in good form and topped their group, but they were definitely not the top team out there.

OG-2 : VGJ.Storm-0

The main event of The International 2018 began on the 20th of August. OG’s game against VGJ.Storm was on the 21st so they got an extra day of rest. The first match of the second day saw the two teams go up against each other on the main stage. VGJ.Storm were heavily favored, given their form in the group stages (12-4) and that seemed to be the way it would go when the first game commenced. Reso, who had a point to prove against his old team OG, was getting out of hand on his Weaver. VGJ had a lead in excess of 14k at one point, but through all this, Ana’s Phantom Lancer kept farming and bolstering his net worth. Three quick deaths on the Weaver was all it took to turn the tides in OG’s favor and give them game 1. Easier said than done, but OG did really make it look easy. Once the BKB on Weaver got shorter, it was easier to lock the bug down. Game 2 wasn’t much of a contest and Ana’s Troll got out of hand to hand OG and easy 2-0 win and an assured top 6! They had already done better than the previous iterations of the team and still had two lives to play with.


The change in net worth through game 1 of OG (dire) vs VGJ.Storm (radiant) (image taken from www.dotabuff.com)

 

OG-2 : Evil Geniuses-1

Next up for OG was Evil Geniuses. This was a big game for two reasons: Winner secured a top 3 finish and it was also kind of an old OG vs new OG game. Not only did EG harbor Fly and S4, the two players to have left OG abruptly, they also housed former OG player Crit. But Crit was probably not too involved in the cold war situation. It was mostly about Fly and Notail. If EG won, Fly would be vindicated of his decision to leave OG. If not, the decision would be frowned upon. But sure, OG didn’t stand a chance against the star studded EG line-up, did they? EG had already defeated them 2-0 in the group stages and if even though I was rooting for OG, there was something at the bottom on my mind saying this was EG’s game. But whatever that something was, it was completely in the wrong. OG took game 1 on the back of some superb Invoker play by Topson, or Godson, if you like. The crowd went wild.

Game 2, OG had a sizable lead and seemed to be on their way to a 2-0 win. But a few mistakes brought EG back into the game. With OG playing a Lycan and Ursa, they had to finish the game early. Failure to do so meant their grip on the game loosened. EG capitalized and the power of the Drow prevailed again (like in game 1) and Evil Geniuses drew the series 1-1.

Even though I was supporting OG, I am glad they lost game 2 and the series went to a deciding game. That is the reason everyone got to see one of the, if not the, best comeback at TI and in my mind, cemented Ana as the cleverest player to have played the game. Sumail’s Tiny went on a rampage and was getting kills left, right and center. He even made the record for the greatest number of kills for a player in a TI game (31). Even as EG were gaining a net worth lead, Ana kept farming in the cleverest ways possible. Sumail kept hunting for the Spectre, but Ana kept avoiding the Tiny and teleporting out to a different lane. It was only a matter of time before Spectre hit critical mass and even though EG had a 20k lead, OG eventually began winning the team fights and won the game. Centaur Aghanim’s had a big part to play in it as well. That’s something OG did at TI8, went against the meta and played to their comfort. And they did it quite well. Centaur was not a popular pick at the event, but they picked the hero and used him to his strengths. 2-1 in the favor of OG and the underdogs were going to be playing in the winner’s bracket finals of The International! It was as crazy as story as anyone had heard, and the ink was still flowing.

When I met OG’s coach Cristian ‘ppasarel’ Banaseanu outside the stadium after the game, he exclaimed it was like watching a horror movie every time Sumail’s Tiny hunted for Ana’s Spectre. A word on ppasarel, he was the coach for Cloud9 when Notail played there and there was a long standing bond between the two.

 

OG-2 : PSG.LGD-1

PSG.LGD were the only Chinese team to have made the final 8. They had done a bit more than that – defeat Virus Pro and Team Liquid 2-0 to make it to the upper bracket finals. Surely, this was the end of OG’s dream run. There was no way OG could take out the team who had brushed aside VP and Liquid. But it was a story very similar to that of the game against EG. OG took game 1 with the Io-Gyrocopter combo working to perfection, LGD hit back in game 2 to level the series and in game 3, just as LGD were about to demolish the throne, Jerax came in with the Echoslam of a lifetime to kill off Ame’s Terrorblade, who had just bought back. Game, set, match OG. They had made it to the grand finals of TI8. Just one match remained between them and the Aegis.

 

OG-3 : PSG.LGD-2

If there were people who though defeating LGD once was a fluke, OG here got the chance to do it again. LGD went down to the lower bracket, beat EG 2-0 and came back to face OG in the best of 5 grand finals. OG took game 1 on the back of Ana’s Spectre and Topson’s Monkey King. Realizing the big part Spectre played in OG’s drafts, LGD first banned it for the rest of the series. Games 2 and 3 were comfortable wins for LGD. Leading the series 2-1, LGD were just one game away from victory. Could taste the win, when Ame’s mistake and unnecessary death on the Morphling gave OG hope. And then there was Ceb’s call to seal the deal and get OG the win in a 65 minute thriller!

In the last game, it seemed like LGD had the better draft. Of the heroes OG had picked, none had a win rate of more than 50% at TI8 till that game.


Win rates of heroes picked by OG in the final game of TI8

But like I said, they just played what they liked, not looking at what other teams were doing. The game started extremely well for PSG.LGD, with the Chinese team taking an early lead. But like I’ve witnessed on numerous occasions, it is quite often a Roshan fight that changes the course of things. And that’s exactly what happened. LGD got a kill on to Ana in the Rosh pit, but Ana just bough back on the Ember Spirit and came back to a remnant in the Rosh pit to win the fight for OG.

Ame made another mistake later on in the game, teleporting to a shrine with no vision, and was killed immediately with none of his team mates there to help him. OG capitalized on that and took the throne and the game in 36 minutes to emerge as the Champions of The International 2018!

OG had done the unthinkable. The one trophy that had eluded the team was finally in their arsenal, but the only surviving member of OG 1.0 was Notail (and maybe Ceb, as he joined in the first season). Their story was a testament to the fact that with hard work and the will to achieve something, anything is possible. Literally. It was dreamier that any Cinderalla story ever written and it gave the community a phenomenal event to witness.

Recently, OG announced Ana stepping down as an active player for his personal reasons. Pajkatt, who played for Optic Gaming last season, will attempt to fill the Australian’s shoes. Tiny feet, but big shoes.

Where OG go from here, it remains to be seen. As I write down these words, I reminisce about all the great times OG Dota 2 has given me. From the early days of Tiny-Io to the nail biting finish of TI8, the team has always entertained. Maybe they’ll continue their great form, maybe they won’t. Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure..the name OG will go down in the history of Dota 2 as one of the greatest teams to have played this blessed game we call Dota 2.

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