By Anurag Hegde | Head of Sport
OG are not only the most successful Dota-2 team in history having won two TI championships but are also the current defending champions. Team OG were at a risk of not qualifying for the Ti-10 tournament at all after they did not secure enough points to finish within the top-12 in the DPC 2021 (Dota Pro Circuit) to earn a direct invite.
Team OG finished at a shocking 35th position at the end of DPC 2021 and they were extremely inconsistent with their performances throughout the first half of the year. They suffered a couple of major setbacks since their heroics at TI 9 back in 2019.
Their first major blow came when Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka decided to retire from professional Dota in early 2021. JerAx had been a part of both of OG’s TI victories and was regarded as one of the most skilled position-4 players. He has since been replaced by North Macedonian Martin “Saksa” Sazdov and he has proven to be a good fit for OG in the position-4 role.
Their bigger setback came in late May earlier this year when their position-1 player Anathan “ana” Pham also decided to retire from the competitive scene at the age of 21. Joining OG back in 2016, ana turned out to be a revelation during OG’s maigcal victory at TI 8. He was known for his innovative style of playing the carry role and most notably for his performance as Io in TI 9. In 2019, ana become one of only five players to win TI twice after his team beat Team Liquid in the final.
Ana had been off the active roster for most of 2020 and 2021 and OG had been playing with Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng as their carry. However, OG suffered a string of poor performances failed to qualify for the ONE Esports Singapore Major. This prompted a roster reshuffle and ana returned to action after being away for nearly 18 months. However, even with ana, OG’s results did not improve, and they consequently failed to qualify for the WePlay Esports AniMajor as well. Just two months after returning to the squad, ana announced that he was retiring from the sport.
Having failed to qualify for both majors, OG stood no chance of earning enough points to end up amongst the top-12 in DPC 2021. OG had their backs against the wall, and they had to win the Western Europe Qualifiers if they were even going to stand a chance of defending their title. The team announced that Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan would be taking over duties as the team’s position-1.
OG were on the brink of elimination after they were knocked down to the lower bracket having lost the upper bracket final to Tundra Esports – incidentally, the same team that they went on to beat in the Grand Final. OG, however, held their nerve and beat Team Nigma to make it through to the Grand Final.
Facing Tundra Esports in the best-of-five series in the Grand Final, OG did not start off well as they dropped the first game after Leon “Nine” Kirilin’s Lina claimed an unassailable net-worth advantage. The series came down to the final game after OG won games 2 and 4 while Tundra won games 1 and 3. Desperate to make through to TI 10, team OG produced an incredible performance in game-5 as they steamrolled Tundra Esports to claim victory. SumaiL’s performance as Templar Assassin was most notable in that game as he ended with a score of 14-0-10.
Known for their bold and unconventional play style, Team OG will once again compete at The International (Ti-10) which will be held in Bucharest later this year.