The next stop in the Dota 2 circuit is the Dota PIT League LAN Finals this weekend. Held in Croatia, we will see the official debut of the equally lauded and reviled OG. OG was the most consistent Dota 2 team from the 2016-2017 circuit and is most well known for winning both of the Majors last year. Despite the consistent success outside of The International, OG removed Anathan “ana” Pham and recruited Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok in his place. For Resolut1ion, this will be the third region he has played in during his Dota 2 career as he continues his world tour across the globe. Why yes, he is related to Russell Crowe.
Resolut1ion’s career started in the CIS region during 2013. Like most up-and-comers he was a drifter, shifting between teams of minor note until finally landing on Team Empire in 2014. There he became their franchise player as he struggled to bring the team to the level of the historic CIS teams. Unfortunately for Resolut1ion, Empire was essentially fool’s gold. The rosters always looked good on paper, the organizations always made the theoretically correct pickups, and they were always on the verge of breaking into Tier 1 recognition; arguably, they did so sporadically. But Empire inevitably petered out, with every promising run short circuited from players being bought out, leaving or switching roles for covert reasons (shoutout to Maxim “yoky-” Kim).
Once 2016 started, Resolut1ion decided to roll the dice and sought out a foreign team to ply his trade. Up to 2014, Dota 2 was mostly a regional game as most stacks were delineated along regional lines: NA/EU, CIS, China, and SEA had become useful shorthand within the lexicon, each with an array of stars and stereotypically recognizable play style. But that pattern had broken apart by last year, first with the assemblage of Team Secret, the collection of Western stars, and soon after as other teams scrambled to copy their formula. Before that, the idea of moving regions wasn’t even a consideration. It was terribly inconvenient to organize and train players without the proper money and infrastructure, the language barrier was a pain to overcome, and there was no legacy of success to inspire copycat behavior. Now it was a real possibility. So Resolut1ion tried his luck in the NA region. He joined Digital Chaos, a small grassroots effort by the personal involvement of DotaCinema’s co-owner. It was terrible, as the team bombed out.
DC disintegrated in the Shanghai Major shuffle, leaving only Resolut1ion. The organization scrambled to replenish the ranks as they found outcasts who couldn’t find any better teams. The new members included Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen, Aliwi “w33” Omar, David “Moo” Hull, and Martin “Saksa” Sazdov. It was better than expected, especially considering the low expectations of the first roster, but there was no core reason as to why they were assembled. They were just the best of the flotsam. For the next 6 months they wavered between mediocre to terrible—finishing second-to-last at every international event—and the team was on the verge of breaking up. The only thing keeping them together was the roster lock and TI6 coming up. The turnaround point was during their bootcamp where MiSeRy gave an any given sunday speech.
The gist of the inspiring speech amounted to: “You are all shit.”
DC then went on its epic TI6 run. DC made it all the way to the final, and the superstar of that roster was Resolut1ion. It was an incredible run and the team decided to stick it out for another year together after kicking Moo for David “MoonMeander” Tan. The next year was up and down without rhyme or reason. DC could make deep runs or bomb out, but there was no identifiable reason why one or the other happened. The team eventually crashed and burned in the TI7 qualifiers; Resolut1ion looked to cast TI7 for the CIS stream.
At TI7, Resolut1ion’s old team, Empire, was set to play. Since Resolut1ion’s departure, Empire was still stuck in the ‘rebuilding’ phase. The lineup that was set to play had some potential with its own unique play style and draft, but it was considered one of the the weakest teams in attendance. Then worse news struck: carry player Vladimir “Chappie” Kuzmenko was unable to secure a visa. In a last ditch attempt, Empire asked Resolut1ion to stand in. Empire’s chances were already grim and with the premium placed on team chemistry, a late replacement only hurt them further.
But The International only happens once every year. Empire willingly dedicated its remaining time into last-second preparation, particularly discussing how to make Resolut1ion as comfortable as possible. The group stage mirrored that as Empire started off poorly and became more cohesive the more teams it played. Despite that, Empire still ended the group stage near the bottom with a 6-10 record, barely edging out Infamous.
Once again Resolut1ion showed how clutch he was under pressure. He had already performed a miracle run at TI6 and he did the same here. In the playoff stage, Empire had figured out the game plan and played around Resolut1ion’s strengths. Empire defeated Cloud9 and EG before losing to the eventual champions Liquid. Despite the early elimination, Resolut1ion showed a world class performance and everyone bore witness. Among those whose interest was piqued was OG. After losing in TI7 and the messy drama with ana, OG decided that Resolut1ion was not a player they could pass up on.
For Resolut1ion, this will be his biggest challenge yet. He had spent years trying to raise up Empire to the top of the CIS region. He was able to give DC a miracle TI6 run; in TI7, he pulled another miracle run to get Empire to the top 8. By now it’s common wisdom that he is one of the greatest CIS carries alive. Now he joins OG, arguably the best team on paper he has ever joined. It should look like a match made in heaven: OG is only changing one player and moving Resolut1ion to mid, his old position. But I still have reservations. At its peak, OG was largely dependent on split-push and illusion heroes, strategies that emphasized its tight macro play and finicky selection of battles. Resolut1ion is a hybrid between farm and teamfight carry, with OG’s early struggles showcasing their inability to properly balance responsibilities with Johan “N0tail” Sundstein.
That is what Dota Pit makes so intriguing. It will be right after the new patch, arguably the period when OG performs the best. It is time for Resolut1ion to make his debut in the 2017-2018 circuit and to see if he can bring OG to even greater heights.