Can OG make it three in a row at The International 10, though?
That’s the question on a lot of Dota 2 fans’ minds and it’s one that’s very difficult to answer. OG still has a new roster and has only played together a handful of times at full strength. Even with a large sample size, picking out the winner of The International is always a difficult prospect.
It’s still worth taking a look over the team, where they’re heading, and what might be in store for the team once the event comes.
OG’s roster took an extended hiatus after winning The International 2019.
The team sat out the first two major cycles and was largely silent about its future. Fans were left uncertain over what was next, and it’s possible the players on OG didn’t know either. OG introduced a sister team named OG Seed that functionally represented the organization and its sponsors in various tournaments which the main OG roster didn’t participate in.
Definitive news on the team’s future didn’t come until late January 2020, almost six months after the team’s victory at TI9. The organization announced that Sebastian “Ceb” Debs, Jesse “JeRax” Vainikka, and Anathan “ana” Pham were either taking indefinite leaves from competition or retiring completely. This left OG to rebuild around just two players, but fans were delighted to see the new roster assembled around them.
N0tail and Topson were the only players to return from the TI8 and TI9 roster, but the team rebuilt by adding some of the most talented Dota 2 players in the world.
SumaiL established himself as one of the best mid laners in the world during his long tenure with Evil Geniuses. He was benched by the team following TI9 and left in limbo for several months, but found a new home in OG.
MidOne was a key part of Team Secret’s prolonged stretch as one of Dota 2’s best teams, anchoring their mid lane from 2016 to 2019. During that time, MidOne amassed an impressive trophy case that includes three major titles and a slew of other live event victories.
Saksa hasn’t enjoyed the same level of stardom as either SumaiL or MidOne, but he’s still established as a world-class player. He has long stood at or near the top of the European MMR leaderboards and is proven at the pro level, most notably reaching The International 2016 finals with Digital Chaos.
The new OG roster debuted in impressive fashion. Despite being revealed just two weeks prior, the team had little trouble making its way through both the open and closed European qualifiers to the ESL One Los Angeles Major. This came as the European Dota 2 region was hotly contested, with OG taking 2-0 series wins over several formidable opponents.
Trouble came after the LA major was nixed and Dota 2 events transitioned to an online setting. Travel restrictions left Topson stranded in Southeast Asia after he visited his girlfriend on a holiday and forced MidOne to take an extended break from competition after his returning home. OG remained active, but was forced to play with a revolving door of substitutions that sometimes put the team’s players off role.
It took more than three months to bring the complete OG roster back together and once they returned to action, they looked less potent than before.
The organization competed in the ESL One Birmingham 2020 online league, finishing 13th in the 16-team event. A second-place finish in BLAST Bounty Hunt suggested the team had bounced back, but another underwhelming showing in BEYOND Epic followed. As of this writing, the team has a 6-11 record in series play.
The cause of these struggles is up for debate, and there are many potential factors working against the team.
OG’s inability to practice together effectively has undoubtedly been a factor in their recent struggles. Lag hindering MidOne and SumaiL as they play on European servers from opposite ends of the planet is also a real concern. The 7.26 meta heavily favored split pushing, a style of play that doesn’t work well with OG’s signature style focused on team fights. There could also still be adjustment period for OG as the squad settles into the realities of online pro play.
“Super teams” have long been a mixed bag in Dota 2. Some are capable of crushing the competition en route to a dominant first-place finish at The International, as was the case with Newbee in 2014. Some fizzle out in quick fashion, with the best example of that being the infamous Team Secret lineup of 2016 that included Saahil “Universe” Arora and Artour “Arteezy” Babaev.
Fans shouldn’t immediately start placing bets on OG simply because their roster is stacked, but they should have high expectations for the team.
On the flipside, while N0tail is the most credentialed Dota 2 pro in history and OG is the highest-earning esports team in history by some measure, the team is historically at its best when playing under the brightest lights. OG has four major titles and two The International championships to its name, but it has claimd only a few smaller titles along the way, far fewer than most of OG’s elite opponents.
Even when the team was performing at its peak, it wasn’t posting prolonged stretches of dominance in the way Alliance once did in 2013.
So is it possible that OG wins The International 10? The answer is yes, though they won’t necessarily be the favorites.
OG looks the part of a team that’s capable of taking on anyone when it’s properly prepared. Even underwhelming teams can make a deep run into The International by getting hot at the right time and quickly picking up on the game’s current meta, which has been seen with the likes of CDEC Gaming in 2015 exceed expectations. Teams need to hit their stride at the right time and have the raw talent in order to bring home the top prize, though. As great its run was, CDEC ultimately fell short in the grand final to Evil Geniuses.
It’s hard to be confident in picking one team to win The International. The biggest favorites to win the event rarely come through, even when all signs point to their victory. So maybe OG’s best shot is to go in as an underdog yet again.