Who is N0tail? The complete history of the 2-time TI champion
Jan 30, 2022
Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, also known as BigDaddyN0tail, is arguably the most successful personality in all of esports, with two The International Dota 2 Championship victories to his name and four major titles.
His MOBA career started when he was just 15 years old playing Heroes of Newerth, a MOBA that was a rival to League of Legends and Dota 2. During that time, he began playing alongside longtime teammate Tal “Fly” Aizik. The pair found solid success in HoN before eventually landing a sponsorship with Fnatic.
At Fnatic, N0tail dominated HoN’s final years as a notable esports title, winning a number of DreamHack events.
N0tail’s Dota 2 career started with Fnatic
With HoN on the decline, the Fnatic roster changed its focus to Dota 2 in 2012. The team wasn’t invited to The International 2012, but was very active the following season in online events posting mixed results. That earned the team an invitation to The International 2013, which saw the team eliminated in eighth place.
Fly and N0tail remained with Fnatic through the following season and saw far greater success. The team posted high placements in a slew of tournaments throughout the year and once again earned an invitation to The International. Unfortunately, the team was swiftly eliminated from TI4, which marked the end of Fnatic’s European Dota 2 roster.
N0tail and Fly then joined the star-studded roster of Team Secret. Headed by former Natus Vincere players Clement “Puppey” Ivanov and Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, Secret immediately found huge success in winning XMG Captains Draft 2.0 and Dota Pit League Season 2. Despite that, the team saw its roster quickly split apart.
Fly left in December and competed with MeePwn’d while N0tail joined Cloud9. Cloud9 saw generally positive results throughout the year and N0tail once again received an invitation to The International. For the second year in a row, his team was quickly knocked out of the event.
N0tail and Fly reunite to form OG
N0tail left Cloud9 after this, reunited with Fly, and formed a mixed team named (monkey) Business. The team established itself as a real contender by placing in the top four at the MLG World Finals in 2015. The team rebranded as OG and became an elite force by consecutively winning the Frankfurt Major and DreamLeague Season 4.
This kicked off a wildly successful year that saw OG take in nearly $3 million in prize pool winnings. The team entered as one of the favorites to win The International 2016, but left fans disappointed when N0tail once again got handed an early elimination from the event.
OG was rocked by roster departures from there, but the team rebuilt around N0tail and Fly. This paid off as the rebuilt squad proved itself a force by winning the Boston Major and Kiev Major. This gave Fly and N0tail a total of four major titles to their names, a record that would remain intact for years to come. But this was followed by another disappointing performance at The International, with an eighth-place finish at The International 2017 branding the duo as chokers at Dota 2’s largest event.
N0tail and OG struggle without ana, win The International after his return
Though OG was exceptional in the years prior, the team struggled following the departure of mid player Anathan “ana” Pham, as new addition Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok lacked his individual abilities in the role.
OG posted generally negative results in Dota Pro Circuit events that year. Resolut1on left the team that March, while Fly abruptly split from OG alongside off laner Gustav “s4” Magnusson to join Evil Geniuses shortly before qualifiers for The International 2018. This went down as one of the most dramatic breakups in Dota 2 history due to N0tail and Fly’s extensive history together.
OG reunited with ana and pulled together a new roster for the qualifiers to TI8. The team successfully qualified for the event and faced Evil Geniuses in the upper bracket semifinals. N0tail and OG got the better of the series in 2-1 fashion, which was followed by N0tail shaking Fly’s hand with a cold stare that quickly became a famous meme. Evil Geniuses finished the event in third, while OG ultimately won The International.
Following TI8, ana took another hiatus from Dota 2 which was followed by another slump for OG. ana eventually returned and OG managed to narrowly qualify for The International 2019. OG entered TI9 as underdogs, but steamrolled the competition en route to a second consecutive first-place finish. This established N0tail and his teammates as the first two-time TI champions, with N0tail becoming the highest-earning esports player in history with the win.
Restrictions hinder N0tail and the new OG
OG took a prolonged hiatus after winning TI9, which was followed by multiple members of the team departing. Only N0tail and mid laner Topias Miikka “Topson” Taavitsainen returned from the TI9-winning roster.
A new roster was formed around the pair, with new team including former Evil Geniuses mid Syed “SumaiL” Hassan, former Team Secret mid Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng, and former Digital Chaos support Martin “Saksa” Sazdov.
The team looked strong in its debut in the ESL One Los Angeles Major qualifiers, but the major’s cancelation and the rollout of 2020 travel restrictions proved problematic. N0tail and SumaiL were active and Ceb came out of retirement but the team was forced to regularly rotate in substitutes for online events.
Towards the end of 2020, larger online events were put together and with that came the returns of MidOne and Topson and the removal of SumaiL. OG posted mixed results in these events before the start of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit season’s start.
N0tail performed reasonably well, but OG once again struggled with its carry position. MidOne was swapped in, which was followed by ana’s return. In both cases the team failed to qualify for majors. The return of SumaiL balanced the team and earned OG a spot in TI10 through the regional qualifiers.
OG was considered a longshot at the event but performed well in the group stage. An upper bracket start was undone with a loss to Team Secret, but OG stayed alive by defeating Quincy Crew in the lower bracket. The team lost to eventual winners Team Spirit to seal a seventh-place finish.
Where is N0tail now?
N0tail has been on an indefinite leave from professional Dota 2 competition since TI10.
With N0tail stepping away from OG’s active lineup, the rest of the OG roster was liquidated. A new OG roster led by Mikhail “Misha” Agatov was introduced ahead of the start of the 2021-2022 Dota Pro Circuit season. N0tail continues to work with the OG organization behind the scenes.
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