The European squad completed its second Cinderella run at the world’s largest Dota 2 tournament, defeating Team Liquid in the event’s grand finals. The victory caps a dominant run at the event and nets the team $15,578,510 from the record-breaking prize pool.
OG took the Aegis of Champions with a strong 3-1 victory, overcoming some early adversity before closing out the event in stunning fashion.
Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi continued his tradition of locking in surprise last-pick heroes. The Liquid captain toyed with OG’s expectations by picking Templar Assassin early in the draft. That had OG expecting Aliwi “w33” Omar to go mid with the hero, but instead, KuroKy dropped jaws by grabbing Meepo for w33 and sending Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi mid with Templar Assassin.
OG countered this in two ways. Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen was aggressive early as Tiny. His naturally high burst damage and strong wave clear allowed him to take rune control and roam around seeking kills.
That early aggression kept Liquid off balance to the point that they couldn’t stop OG from building up Anathan “ana” Pham’s Spectre. OG protected him, stacked camps, and gave him a great start to the game.
Liquid had the stronger early pushing lineup with Templar Assassin and KuroKy on Chen, and they scrambled to do as much as they could before ana purchased Radiance. Liquid roamed around the map and knocked down all of OG’s outer towers before ana finally got his first key item.
OG made a number of misplays after this point which allowed Liquid to improve its lead. Meepo’s ability to farm in five different locations saw every kill pay massive dividends for Liquid.
Getting farm and kills was one thing, but breaking high ground was another. Liquid couldn’t take a barracks until the 37-minute mark and by that point, ana was massive. Liquid eventually started attacking the base, but OG responded with a team wipe and cleared out two lanes of barracks. Just like that, Liquid’s massive lead completely evaporated.
OG began looking to end the game from there, but Liquid remains one of the best defensive teams in Dota 2. Liquid got the kills to defend their final set of barracks, marched down the middle lane, and exploded the Ancient as ana inexplicably watched it play out despite having buyback.
Game two went in a very different direction.
Instead of going for crafty options, Liquid chose a hard-hitting lineup with a lot of stuns. The draft included Enigma, Tidehunter, and Shadow Shaman. OG played the counter-pick game this time around with heroes like Monkey King and Omniknight.
The draft wasn’t the only thing that changed. Instead of considerations like pushing or item timings, both teams seemingly agreed to play the map as though it was a deathmatch. Liquid and OG almost exclusively roamed for kills, ignoring objectives to the point that they were diving enemies under tier-three towers while the tier-one still stood in the same lane.
Liquid was able to match OG’s aggression at times, but their reliance on ultimates with long cooldowns proved to be their downfall. OG kept on looking for blood, and Liquid was only able to resist when the right abilities were off cooldown. This saw Liquid fall apart in the mid game, with a kill score that stood at 21-9 at the 20-minute mark.
OG kept pressing that advantage and racked up kills upon kills. The end came in 32 minutes with OG notching 40 kills by game’s end.
OG picked up game three right where it left off in game two, playing incredibly aggressive Dota. The team surprisingly had Topson playing Pugna in the middle lane, and the choice paid off in a big way. Liquid opted to draft a similar lineup to their previous games in the series, building a team around Tidehunter, Templar Assassin, and Rubick.
It didn’t work especially well for Liquid in game three, leaving the broadcasters and analysts to pine for a change.
While the expectation was for Topson to primarily be pushing lanes, he instead played Pugna as a roaming nuker. He rushed Veil of Discord and combined it with early levels in Decrepify to become an explosive threat across the map. OG combined this with creative use of Tiny’s Toss ability, using the skill to toss enemies directly into spells.
Liquid quickly found themselves playing from a deep deficit and never saw a glimmer of hope to get back in the game. Topson was an omnipresent threat and seemed to pounce on any Liquid hero that dared to step outside their home base. He was so far ahead of Liquid that he actually used shovel consumables directly in front of them during fights.
Mercifully, OG finished the game in just 23 minutes to advance to match point.
Game four saw the return of the carry Io. The surprise hero choice for ana has been one of the most popular topics of discussion surrounding The International 2019, and OG added a new wrinkle to it by putting Johan “N0tail” Sundstein in lane with him as Abaddon. The combination of Io’s Tether and Abaddon’s Mist Coil provided seemingly infinite sustainability for both heroes, while Aphotic Shield punished any kind of offensive maneuver by Liquid.
OG once again jumped off to an early lead by playing a loose and aggressive game, but Liquid did a better job of returning fire this time around.
Liquid used effective rotations from KuroKy and Maroun “GH” Merhej to either score kills or knock down towers. They found kills and pressed some map advantages, but once ana hit his power spikes on Io, the game was all but over.
Core Io revolves around building Aghanim’s Scepter and hitting level 15. If a carry player can do both of those things in a timely fashion, the hero seems all but unstoppable. Ana checked those boxes at 20 minutes and the game turned immediately.
OG scored a pair of kills and quickly went for Liquid’s barracks. They took them and retreated for a short time, but turned around and caught Liquid out again. A team wipe followed and prompted Liquid to tap out, giving OG the 3-1 series victory.
The International 2019 grand finals produced a great deal of history.
The $15,578,510 top prize, divided five ways, yields over $3.1 million for each player. This stands as the largest individual payout to a single esports player, breaking the record of $3 million set earlier this year in the Fortnite World Cup solo finals.
OG reaching the grand finals of TI9 is the first time a team has reached the grand finals in consecutive years with the same roster. While Natus Vincere reached the grand finals of the first three installments of The International, they tinkered with their lineups each time. OG dealt with some substitutions during the season, but entered TI9 with the same lineup they won The International 2018 with.
All five OG players now stand atop the entire esports world in terms of individual player earnings. Above all, OG now stands as the first two-time champions of The International and arguably the greatest Dota 2 team of all time.