Defending champions OG won a record fourth Major by claiming the Kiev crown last weekend. In the Finals they had to play against the fierce Virtus.Pro, but OG triumphed after a nerve wracking five-game thriller to take the title.
The Swiss format was adopted in the Group Stage for the first time in the Majors, and OG were drawn against debutants SG eSports, who they beat 2-1 despite losing the first game.
iG proved to be too much of a challenge in the next match though as OG succumbed 2-0.
This was to be OG’s only defeat of the tournament as in the final two rounds of the Group Stage they defeated Team Random (formerly Wings Gaming) and Thunderbirds, both with a 2-1 scoreline. This saw them finish in fifth place in the final rankings having secured 3 wins and 1 defeat.
OG again defeated Team Random 2-1, this time in the round-of-16, setting up a clash with Team Faceless in the next round of the Playoffs. The green team had a horrible first game in the last-eight, but after a great performance and unconventional Pudge pick in Game Two, the scores were level. And despite their greedy draft, OG held the early game in Game Three, managing to secure the contest late on to progress.
A well-known foe, EG, were awaiting in the semis with thoughts of revenge for their elimination at the Boston Major at the hands of their rivals. However, OG refused to let them in and won the encounter with a clean 2-0 score to reach the Finals.
A fourth Finals
To win the Kiev Major crown, OG had to overcome perhaps the most clinical and impressive team in the tournament thus far – home crowd favourites Virtus.Pro.
OG got a head start with the tried and tested Terrorblade strategy and despite heavy resistance, won the first game thanks to having slightly better execution. While the game was generally quite even, Virtus.Pro lost a key fight towards the end and could not cope with Terrorblade’s pushing power.
In the second game the CIS side went with Terrorblade alongside their favourite Ursa and swept aside OG rather easily. While ana had a good game for the Europeans, Virtus.Pro had the final say with their superior line-up, bringing the score to 1-1.
Game Three was disastrous for OG as their greedy draft was punished mercilessly by Virtus.Pro, who gained map control quite early in the game and did not give any breathing space to their opponents throughout.
Game Four saw OG resort to the services of Terrorblade once again, this time alongside Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka’s famous Earth Spirit. Unlike Game One, Virtus.Pro’s hero synergy never really worked and as a result, the game was decided rather quickly in favour of the European team. Silencer, in particular, seemed an unjustified pick, meaning the contest went into a deciding fifth game.
Both teams went out of their comfort zone and opted for different hero choices in the decider. Virtus.Pro heavily dominated the early game, but OG scored a win with a crucial team fight on the high ground near the Roshan pit in the mid game. With momentum on their side, OG kept pushing, coming out on top in subsequent fights. Panicked and frustrated, Virtus.Pro’s play disintegrated and they eventually had to call the “gg” when OG razed their base.
OG are now a well-established Dota 2 team with a developed playing style – they like to target the latter stages of the game, with their preferred strategy being the illusion play. The player who is at the centre of this approach is Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, who enjoys playing on the safe lane with either Terrorblade (100% win rate in Kiev), Alchemist (75% win rate) or Naga Siren (100% win rate).
OG generally do not put heavy emphasis on winning lanes, but like to seize the initiative in the mid game. Losing the laning stage is usually detrimental when N0tail does not get the chance to farm and that’s when the team find themselves in trouble. This is when Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka’s role as a space maker is very important. Rightfully considered as one of the best position 4 players in the game, he provides space with aggressive or defensive moves, and this enables N0tail to do the farming he needs.
The team’s mid player Anathan “ana” Pham also occasionally loses his lane, and there were moments when he was quite clearly outplayed in Kiev (e.g. vs EG’s Suma1L). However, he often compensates with fast jungle farming and the ability to emerge from fights alive. This allows him not only to catch up, but also surpass his better laning opponents in terms of net worth and itemization later in the game.
OG rely a lot on the team fight presence of Gustav “s4” Magnusson and he certainly delivered with Magnus, Enigma and Batrider throughout the Kiev Major. Already a living legend, the TI3 winner is perhaps the best laner in the team and is able to farm on the offlane in situations where other players would struggle. He is also known for his impeccable decision making.
Last but not least, Tal “Fly” Aizik bears the heavy burden of being drafter and captain. While he is a very good drafter, his true strength lies in his presence in team fight executions, as well as playing defensive supports. Undoubtedly his Crystal Maiden and particularly his Phoenix won not only fights for OG, but games too. The clash against EG is one such example.
While OG were most successful when they went for the illusion game, the team were confident and composed enough to go for unconventional picks and make them work in their favour, such as in the games against Team Faceless and even in the Finals versus Virtus.Pro.
A good future lies ahead
With four Majors under their belt, there is only one significant absence from the OG trophy room – the International crown. With a different line-up, OG were one of the favourites to win it last year, but did not come close. This year, the goal is the same and should they claim the most coveted prize in Dota 2, they are likely to secure their place as the most successful Dota 2 team ever. Don’t bet against them on this form.