The grand finals to The International 2019 are now set.
Upper bracket winners OG will take on Team Liquid for the Aegis of Champions and the top prize of $15,578,100. The two teams started this Dota 2 season in the same spot, but landed where they are by taking very different paths.
OG had a rocky 2018-2019 season. Despite coming in hot off a win at The International 2018, the team opted to take time off in the months that followed. This saw them miss the first of five majors in the season, a serious disadvantage in qualifying for TI9.
Making matters worse was the departure of carry player Anathan “ana” Pham. The Australian took a lengthy break after The International 2017 and did the same after TI8. OG brought in a few replacements, but none of them matched ana’s impact. The team struggled without him, washing out of minors early and looking unimpressive at other events.
When he returned in March, the team started returning to majors, but still weren’t the force they had been at TI8.
For whatever reason, this trip to Shanghai has sparked a return to form for OG.
The team crushed its group and skated through the upper bracket using creative drafts and a chaotic in-game style. This came in spite of the fact that they took a shockingly casual approach to the event, going so far as to jokingly grief one another during play. Even after their rare defeats, they seemed jovial.
Stiff competition in the upper bracket hasn’t changed them. The team kept its cool in a grudge match with Evil Geniuses and brushed off being the villain in the upper bracket finals against crowd favorite PSG.LGD. TIt’s hard to question them considering they’ve been there, and done that.
Team Liquid started the 2018-2019 season in the exact same spot as OG.
Despite entering the year as one of the top Dota 2 teams on paper, Liquid struggled mightily out of the gate. The team failed to qualify for the Kuala Lumpur Major and mysteriously dropped out of the DreamLeague Minor. From there, their paths diverged.
No answer ever came as to why the move was made, but the team split with longtime coach Lee “Heen” Seung Gon in the weeks that followed.
The team was generally shaky from there but hit their stride as the season progressed. A second-place performance at the MDL Disneyland Major was followed by the shocking release of longtime player Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen in favor of a new dedicated mid laner in Aliwi “w33” Omar.
While many questioned the move, it seemingly paid off when Liquid took another second-place finish at the Epicenter Major.
Liquid came into TI9 looking like a strong candidate to win, but instead struggled in the group stage. Despite playing in the weaker of the two groups, Liquid stammered their way to a 6-10 record. That translated to a lower bracket start for the team.
Liquid then made a bit of history. The team cleared its best-of-one series with Fnatic and swept every opponent they faced en route to the lower bracket finals. They got off to a rough start against PSG.LGD, but flipped the switch from there and took two strong victories to advance to the grand finals.
The two teams should combine for a fun and exciting grand finals series at The International 2019.