With its victory at the Kiev Major, OG now lays claim to four Dota 2 Major championship trophies. Those four championships were won across almost two years between two different iterations of the lineup: Tal “Fly” Aizik and Johan “N0tail” Sundstein are the only two players to remain across both iterations. Despite the differences, both lineups proved to be the best team in their respective eras.
What makes this version more impressive is the level of competition the players had to overcome. The OG of the last year has not been dominant, even though most experts concurred they were favorites at every event. Many teams rose to challenge them and at times usurped them. For brief periods, other top-level teams were heralded as the potential best in the world: Secret in early 2016, Wings at The International 6, iG at the Dota 2 Asia Championship. OG never won every tournament it attended and fell short of expectations in quite a few. But what puts OG ahead of its rivals is consistency. Challengers rise and fall as form oscillates and the meta steals away its gifts. We’ve seen this happen to Secret and Wings. Both teams on their best days could beat anyone; both teams on their worst days can lose to anyone. OG on its best day can win the tournament but could still get to the finals on its worst. Excellence is found in consistency, and no Dota 2 team is as consistent as OG.
This is all the more incredible when you realize how this all started. The core of OG’s success comes from the partnership between Fly and N0tail. Both players were veterans from a different MOBA game, Heroes of Newerth. They were one of the best teams in HoN history, winning four consecutive DreamHack events. The team transitioned into Dota 2 with far less success. They were merely a good team, barely comparable to the likes of Natus Vincere or Alliance. The team became infamous for pioneering what we call “Rat” Dota, as they avoided all fights and split-pushed the game like rats on a ship.
Eventually, that old Fnatic lineup disbanded. After the breakup, Fly and N0tail helped form Team Secret, which would become the Western all-star team by reputation alone. But the initial lineup didn’t work out for either of them. Both were kicked at different times and sent into semi-nomadic wandering. Fly tried his hand at different teams on MeePwn’d and compLexity, while N0tail went to Cloud9. The two reunited on (monkey) Business, the lineup that eventually became OG.
It consisted of Amer “Miracle-” Barqawi, David “MoonMeander” Tan, Andreas Franck “Cr1t-” Nielsen, fly and N0tail. The team identity was built around facilitating Miracle-, who was the superstar of the lineup. The rest of the team ensured he got a winning laning stage by any means necessary so he could be let off the leash in the mid/late game. (monkey) Business debuted at MLG World Finals in October, earning a third place finish before winning its first tournament a month later at the Frankfurt Major as OG. They did it through a surprise run through the lower bracket and defeated more established teams like CDEC and Evil Geniuses to make reach the finals.
During the prelude to TI6, OG earned its reputation as the preeminent Western team by winning the Manila Major and ESL One Frankfurt. The team entered The International as the favorite and destroyed its group stage to earn the top playoff seed. OG looked to crown its year with a victory, but it was not meant to be. MVP upset them in the upper bracket and TnC broke their backs to eliminate them.
After TI6, change was in the air. MoonMeander was kicked and Cr1t left for EG. With the team so drastically different, Miracle- also decided to leave. The team had to rebuild and recruited Anathan “ana” Pham, Jesse “JreAx” Vainikka and Gustav “s4” Magnusson. The team identity had also changed. It went from a focus on pampering the mid laner to securing farm for N0tail. Jerax and s4 would take control of the tempo of the game and create space. Fly is the leader and fulfills whatever role the team needs.
Despite that, he isn’t the superstar the way Miracle- was. Ana is the team-fighting mid. Although he often falls behind early in the lane, he makes up for it in everything else he does. N0tail benefits from the space creation and takes over once his farm is up. There is no specific player focus, but rather an identity. In some ways, it reflects what Fly and N0tail tried to do during their Fnatic days.
This style was tested to the very limits in the Kiev finals. OG tries to neutralize early-mid game disadvantages so its cumulative late game prowess can shine, but Virtus.Pro is a high octane team from the start. The latter tried to win every phase of the game with its incredible aggression and pressure. In some ways, VP is the ultimate distillation of the CIS region, tempered by discipline. It was an incredible series as VP was always a few key decisions and fights away from closing every game, but OG showed its championship class by constantly making the right decisions.
These past two years have proven Fly is one of the greatest captains and leaders in Dota 2. He has steered a stable ship in a naturally chaotic scene where new patches and team shuffles are the norm. He stands among the greats, his team among the greatest.
Yet there is still one accolade left that haunts this team. No matter how many accomplishments the team boasts, The International still taunts them from a distance. While OG and Fly are proof the annual event is not the crux of a successful career, it remains the ultimate ambition of all players. This year OG looks to head to TI as the favorites once again. The question this time is, will they be ready?