The OG offlaner is now a two-time champion of The International and stands as one of the richest players in all of esports. It’s a lot to take in both professionally and personally, but Ceb took the time, gathered his thoughts, and put them into words in a recent blog post.
The piece is a lengthy one, touching on a number of topics ranging from the state of the Dota 2 scene, to OG’s approach to the event, to the response to the team from fans in attendance at The International 2019.
Ceb talks on the OG roster
Unsurprisingly, Ceb was wholly positive in regards to his teammates. While the stakes were high and there were millions of dollars on the line, OG made no effort to hide the fact that they were simply having fun at The International 2019. That seems to stem from the fact that the team are outside-the-game friends, which Ceb discusses at length.
“Words cannot describe how proud I am of my team,” he said. “We had to overcome so much together, and we grew a ton. I had dreams of the perfect roster, a line-up that would have all the skill, game understanding, and camaraderie you could ever ask for. We’re even better than what I pictured, and we’ve proven it once again.”
Though he didn’t discuss any of the specific players, the connection between Ceb and Johan "N0tail" Sundstein was one of the biggest highlights of the event. In a teary interview during the event, N0tail discussed how Ceb helped him when he was going through a rough patch at the start of 2019. When OG finished its series against Team Liquid in the grand finals, N0tail could be seen telling Ceb to be the first to lift the Aegis of Champions.
He followed that by thanking OG’s staff and fans.
Ceb discusses Chinese fans at TI9
One of the biggest topics of discussion at The International 2019 was China’s preferential treatment of its hometown teams. While fans at a sporting event cheering for the local favorites wouldn't normally be controversial, a vocal segment of Dota 2 fans complained about it.
Ceb pushed back against those detractors on social media and said that while fans were quite clear on who they would prefer to win, they were still more than accommodating in person.
“Hundreds of Chinese fans were waiting for us backstage to congratulate us and show great sportsmanship,” he said. “This goes to show that it isn’t about trying to hurt or disrespect the team they don’t support, but rather trying to help their team in any way they can.”
He did note that OG was on the receiving end of some boos during the series against PSG.LGD which he acknowledges was “quite rough,” but he paints a picture that is much different than fans believed.
Strength of teams at TI9 was better than ever
While The International always brings together top-notch teams, Ceb believes that this year was the best yet. He says that while there were still clear favorites at the event, all 18 teams were capable of putting together a long run under the right circumstances.
“I truly think that there was no team, out of the 18, that couldn’t compete for a high-end finish. Back in my days, you always had a decent number of teams that clearly had no chance of threatening the top contenders,” he said. “These days are long gone. It’s great for the scene but quite scary for the participants.”
There’s no questioning him on that front. The International had a number of teams that were supposed to be early eliminations exceed expectations in a profound way. Infamous advanced deep into the tournament when many had them pegged as an early elimination, while the unheralded Mineski nearly eliminated the heavily favored Team Secret.
He adds that this isn’t exclusive to teams that competed at The International and that there were others who didn’t qualify but still were strong enough to have made a run. It's a real testament to the depth at the top level of pro Dota 2.