Dota 2 The International 10 Team Profile: OG
Utopias are experiments in the way human beings relate to one another, meant to bring out the individual’s gifts for their betterment and the benefit of their community. It’s odd to say that Dota 2 has its own flirtations with the utopian concept, but OG comes as close to the utopian ideal in Dota 2 than any other team in the game’s history. OG has seen the pits and peaks of professional Dota 2, with many in the community brushing the team aside as the final experiment of a washed up Heroes of Newerth player who desperately needed to exit Dota 2. However, OG exists as one of esports’ most successful teams and the International 10 is simply another opportunity to show the world that what’s said to be impossible can no longer be considered as such. We’ve done team profiles for other teams competing at this year’s The International 10 for Dota 2. Leading up to the event, the goal is to provide detailed team profiles on all teams competing to give new viewers and returning fans improved insight for this year’s event. If you’re curious, check out profiles we’ve published on Team Undying and Elephant. As always, stay on the lookout for more blogs to come in the future.
Who is OG? A History of Dota 2’s Utopian Experiment
It’s easy to talk about OG’s accolades. OG has held four out of the five Dota 2 Major Championship titles during the inaugural season of the Dota 2 Major Championships series and won The International in both 2018 and 2019. Now, they’re hoping to take that legacy of winning to The International 10. They’ve won events such as Dreamleague Seasons 4 and 5 along with ESL One Frankfurt 2016. OG has a long history being a championship team across a variety of events, but the glistening of champions’ gold outshines the team’s tumultuous history and a storied betrayal between OG’s Notail and former Fnatic.EU teammate Fly, who has seen defeats at the hands of his former teammate at The International twice.
To briefly summarize OG’s history, the team was born out of the renaissance of player owned organizations that occurred in modern Dota 2 with the formation of Team Secret. The first Team Secret squad would comprise a team of future captains for some of Dota 2’s most successful teams. These captains would carry on the tradition of Dota 2 teams that were autonomous and independent of their organizations. Puppey (Team Secret) was the captain of a squad made up of carry player KuroKy (now captain of Nigma Galaxy), mid laner s4 (now captain of Alliance), offlaner Simbaaa aka Fly (now captain of Evil Geniuses), and flex support N0tail (captain of OG). The team originally was created to compete independently of the organizational whims of franchise brands like NAVI and Fnatic, and focus solely on one thing: winning The International. Now, each of these players will be leading teams at The International 10, with the exception of KuroKy and Nigma Galaxy, who were eliminated by OG in the European qualifier for The International 10 for Dota 2.
After disappointing results in their first year, both Fly and N0tail would depart and pursue their goals of winning The International on separate squads, with N0tail joining Cloud 9, consisting of Dota 2 pariahs from both North America and Europe. Fly would join North America’s Complexity Gaming playing alongside some of NA’s most promising talents in MoonMeander and Zfreek. Unfortunately, both Cloud 9 and Complexity Gaming would fall short of top 8 at The International 2015, and N0tail and Fly would reunite in order to play in an environment that demanded nothing but the best you could bring to the game and rewarded players with friendship, no matter what the result.
This desire to emphasize togetherness and unity was what formed OG. The initial results were astonishing as OG would sweep first place wins at Valve’s Dota 2 Majors against the world’s top teams. By the time The International 2016 came around, OG were favored to win. Competition was isolated to a handful of teams that OG had spent the season dominating during the Majors. However, things went south once the Main Event rolled around, with OG losing to MVP Phoenix and dropping out after a devastating 0-2 loss to TNC Pro Team, an aggressive and unexpected opponent from the SEA region.
2017 would see a similar narrative. OG would start the year strong with a 2nd place finish at the Dota 2 Asian Championships and a win at the Kiev Major against Virtus.Pro. However, their performance dwindled going into The International 2017 as they were knocked out of the tournament a second time by TNC Pro Team.
The inconsistency of the team seemed offset by the closeness of the players. N0tail had helped create an environment that was welcoming and supportive, and gave a place for players that many in the community considered past their prime or simply unproven. 2018 would continue OG’s series of disappointing results with OG oftentimes qualifying to big events only to wash out against opponents they should have been dominating against. With only a few months left going into The International 2018, both Fly and s4 departed the team to join Evil Geniuses to get a better shot at participating at that year’s International.
The departure of Fly was devastating. Throughout N0tail’s career, Fly was a constant companion, going all the way back to Heroes of Newerth. OG was more than a team, it was a home. Fly’s departure made that home seem emptier than it had ever been before.
Players like 7ckingMad who had polarized the community were given an opportunity to contribute, and untested players with potential like ana, Miracle–, and Jerax were given guidance and freedom to grow without the fear of poor results hanging over their head like a sword waiting to drop. The spirit of OG was created by N0tail’s desire to compete with like minded people that he liked, while Fly’s focus on winning would conflict with the initial visions for OG.
Fly abandoned what he helped build to chase the Aegis with a team of mercenaries consisting of the world’s greatest Dota 2 talents at the time. In light of Fly’s departure, N0tail reached out to former carry player ana to rejoin the team, and recruited unorthodox European pubstar Topson to play midlane. 7ckingMad, now called Ceb, would join the roster as the team’s offlaner after spending most of his time on OG coaching the team and analyzing drafts. Many in the community didn’t expect OG to make it to The International 2018 with such a last minute line-up. The team would have to win the open qualifiers, then win the European qualifiers against some of the best tier 2 talent in the region.
After qualifying, OG had to play against a competitive group consisting of last year’s champions, PSG.LGD, considered one of China’s best teams historically, and their former brothers-in-arms who were now bleeding blue for Evil Geniuses. OG managed to secure a spot in the upper bracket, even after losing to Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid.
OG’s upper bracket run at The International 2018 is probably one of the best stories in esports. After being abandoned by someone who’s eaten at your table, who’s bled with you, who you called a brother, OG went into their game against Evil Geniuses with pain being the only certainty regardless of the result. They would win their game against Evil Geniuses 2-1, but at what cost? The opportunity for reconciliation was dashed against the rocks the moment the Ancient fell.
OG’s win at The International 2018 would cement their legacy moving onwards. They would be known for wild, unpredictable hero picks like midlane Monkey King and carry Io. OG would play aggressively to the point of sacrificially giving up heroes just to save one teammate. They would buck the trend of hero metas by prioritizing what they thought was important. OG’s influence on the game has changed metas mid-tournament just so teams can respond to them rather than what’s popular for that patch. Whatever event OG participates in, they’re the ones who define the pace, drafts, and playstyle for that event. In a game where Valve typically has the final say in which heroes are the best at any given moment, OG have undermined Valve’s intentions time and time again.
But that was then, and this is now. On the eve of The International 10 for Dota 2, will OG be able to repeat what they’ve accomplished in the past? Has their time in the sun made them unprepared for this year’s event? Can they succeed despite losing two players from their TI winning roster?
OG – Recent Results and Roster Changes
Much like their 2019 season, 2020 and 2021 have been relatively quiet for OG’s roster. OG have been outspoken about the importance of The International and how other Dota 2 tournaments aren’t major priorities for them. With the winnings OG has received from their back-to-back wins at The International, the team doesn’t need to compete year-round to stay sustainable. This attitude towards competition has raised the ire of OG fans who feel that the team’s ability to compete will wane and they won’t see success at The International 10.
Both Ceb and ana took prolonged breaks from the active OG roster at the beginning of 2020, and support player JerAx retired from competitive Dota 2 after seven years of non-stop play. OG would bring in carry player Sumail from Evil Geniuses, along with Team Secret’s MidOne as their star playmakers, hoping to capitalize on their history of profoundly impressive carry gameplay.
OG would round out the roster by bringing in European support standby Saksa, who in his own right can be considered an old school player much like N0tail and Ceb, playing alongside European veterans like MISeRy, Pajkatt, Goblak, and now Ceb and N0tail. Saksa could also be considered a European pub star, but his history of professional competition gives him an edge that gelled well with OG’s playstyle.
With this roster, OG competed in a variety of different tournaments in 2020 with some of their players playing on ping disadvantage. OG showed solid performances during the year with 2nd place at ESL One Los Angeles Online – Europe and CIS, OMEGA League, and Epic League Season 2. They would fall short at events like ESL One Germany, but with The International canceled for this year, this likely influenced OG’s performance at these online events.
By mid July, OG would see Sumail depart and play for Team Liquid as a stand-in. OG would also play with stand-ins for OGA Dota Pit, WePlay! Pushka League, and WeSave! as the pandemic complicated Dota 2 competition in 2020 and made it challenging for an international roster to compete in online events.
2021 would see the departure of MidOne and the return of ana. However, OG did not compete much this year, failing to qualify for Majors during seasons 14 and 15 of Dreamleague and only receiving an invite to ESL One Summer 2021, where they took fourth place. It’s likely that OG was looking to prepare for the return of The International and create a solid roster that could compete and win. Due to the team’s lack of DPC points from not participating in any Majors during the year, OG had to qualify for The International 10 for Dota 2, conditions that resembled their championship run back in 2018. However, the European qualifiers for The International 10 were stacked with teams like Nigma, Team Liquid, Tundra Esports, and rookie squad Spider Pigzs creating a formidable challenge for OG. With ana announcing his retirement shortly before the European qualifier, OG brought in Sumail at the last minute to ensure a full five-player roster.
The European qualifier went extremely well for OG as they were able to play in their comfort zone, prioritizing tanky cores for Ceb like Alchemist and Magnus who could farm well and create pressure against OG’s opponents and allowing Saksa to play greedy, aggressive supports to create space for Sumail. The European qualifier would also see N0tail play comfort picks like Chen and some unusual picks in the support Clockwerk and newly balanced Disruptor. OG relied on their unusual drafts to carry them through the event, only struggling against Tundra Esports in the upper bracket finals and grand final.
Tundra Esports was possibly the biggest challenge OG has faced this year, but they managed to win against them 3-2 by using their superior team cohesion, unique drafting style, and reliance on signature heroes like Topson’s Invoker and Ceb’s Timbersaw which many teams have struggled against historically.
The OG current roster may not be the tried and tested roster from their past as champions of The International 2018 and 2019 for Dota 2, but it’s a strong contender nonetheless. The inclusion of Sumail, NA Dota’s true inheritor and star carry player, could produce similar results as Sumail’s demanding carry playstyle can easily be accommodated by his teammates on OG. While OG don’t always employ a 4 protect 1 playstyle, they’re quite capable of doing so as some of their wins at past Internationals have relied on ana being able to secure enough farm to carry the team in the extreme late game, even at the cost of other cores. Tempo wins will often be secured by lane dominance from Topson and Ceb, who will take their advantage and press it to its logical extremes, setting the pace for brawly, team-fight oriented wins that allow Sumail to snowball off of his already impressive gold farming fundamentals.
While those unfamiliar with Saksa would be quick to point that he’s not JerAx, Saksa has easily adapted to OG’s playstyle of space creating roamers who are able to set up picks and secure farm for themselves. While we may not see flashy plays like those seen with JerAx’s Earth Spirit, Saksa does provide more stability and a wide pool of heroes that can fit with whatever strategy Ceb can concoct.
Ceb’s leadership in drafts and analysis will be key to any OG victory at The International 10. With new players joining the roster, Ceb will have to accommodate their comfort heroes and playstyle into OG’s overall strategy. Ceb won’t struggle to find heroes for Sumail to play as he probably understands Sumail well after playing against him for such a long time, but recent drafts have seen OG draft according to the patch meta for Saksa, which speaks to Saksa’s versatility and flexibility. OG’s lack of play against teams in other regions will create additional obstacles for Ceb as he may not have playbooks against teams like PSG.LGD, T1, and Team Aster, who could quickly end OG’s tournament run in surprise upsets.
Overall, OG have a challenging path ahead of them, but it won’t be the first time they’ve played against what many have deemed impossible odds. The International 10 truly feels like a historic event where anything is truly possible as the global pandemic has kept many of these teams from playing against each other outside of two Majors this year. However, OG have the legacy, capacity, and talent to win the entire thing as they come to The International 10 for Dota 2 well-rested, relaxed, and in good spirits. The only enemy that stands in their way is the pressure, and OG have always performed well under it.