Dota 2 The International 2019: OG Becomes First Back-To-Back TI Champion

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2013-07-09
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OG is your TI9 Champion! Valve

Ever since Dota 2 introduced The International, many of the former winners have longed to get another shot at the crown. Natus Vincere, for example, had two chances to do it.

However, at this year's The International, OG showed everyone what the heart of a champion really was. From a rather lackluster performance during the DPC Season, OG secured a direct invite to this year's TI tournament and in the end raised the Aegis and took home $15 million in prize money

Road to TI9

In last year's TI8 OG was considered an underdog. Even when they beat VGJ.Storm during the first round of the Playoffs, a lot of people still looked to other teams as the possible champion. However, people started to notice when they defeated Evil Geniuses and then PSG.LGD to secure a spot in the Grand Finals. The Grand Finals went the distance and at Game Five, it appeared that PSG.LGD would take the win. OG showed the importance of team chemistry and thanks to their excellent teamfight execution, allowed the team to get the win and secure the Aegis.

However, after winning TI8 Anathan "ana" Pham made the decision to leave the team forcing OG to look for other players. They turned to Per Anders "Pajkatt" Olsson Li and Igor "iLTW" Filatov. The combination still wouldn't work. Eventually ana returned in March of this year in attempt to secure a direct invite to TI9. 

With ana back, OG had the same roster as the one they had in TI8 with Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen, Sébastien “Ceb” Debs. Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka, and Johan “N0tail” Sundstein. 

TI9 Group Stage & Playoffs

To say that OG dominated the Group Stage would be to underscore its performance. In all 16 games against eight opponents, OG only lost once to Na'Vi and Vici Gaming. It was in the Group Stage, particularly against Ninjas in Pyjamas, that OG brought out the infamous Io Carry Strat. While NiP did what they could, they never found an answer to ana's Io. OG used the same strategy a couple more times, even into the Playoffs.

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NiP has no answer to the Io Carry Strat. Photo: Valve

Anyway, OG ended the Group Stage on top and in the Playoffs faced off against Newbee. Again they utilized the Io carry in the first game to win easily. The combination of Topson on Monkey King and ana on Juggernaut proved to be too much for Newbee.

In the second round, OG faced off against EG with EG taking the first game. The second game again fell on the shoulders of its two cores. However, the excellent plays from Ceb, JerAx, and N0tail more than guaranteed the win. The third game was pretty much the same with Ceb getting awarded the MVP.

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OG drops EG to Lower Bracket. Photo: Valve

This led to an Upper Bracker Finals against PSG.LGD, a rematch of TI8. Like the match with EG, OG dropped the first game. In the second game however, OG won convincingly with both ana and Topson ending the game with zero deaths. Despite good performance by Lu "Maybe" Yao, the performance of Ceb's Legion Commander pick was too much.

TI9 Grand Finals

In the Grand Finals OG faced Team Liquid, who had their own story. Liquid started the Playoffs in the Lower Bracket and worked their way up beating out teams like TNC Predator, EG, Team Secret, and even crowd favorite PSG.LGD.

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Team Liquid eliminates PSG.LGD Photo: Valve

This gave the Dota 2 community another reason to be excited since this was the same route Liquid took to win TI7, with former member Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen even saying at the time that "Upper bracket's for b!tch3$." However regardless of who won between the two, either team would become a two-time champion.

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The Lower Bracket Kings makes a return to the Grand Stage. Photo: Valve

In the first game, Liquid took the win thanks to Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi on Templar Assassin and a strong performce by Maroun "GH" Merhej on Rubick and Ivan "MinD_ContRoL" Ivanov on Tidehunter. In the second game, Liquid continued with MinD_ContRoL on Tide hunter, but this time Aliwi "w33" Omar used Templar Assassin. OG went for the signature heroes of its two cores with ana on Ember Spirit and Topson on Monkey King. Those picks worked well as OG won the game with 40 team kills against Liquid's 11 kills. In the third game it still was OG all the way as Liquid found it difficult to find an answer to OG's picks.

With their backs against the wall, Liquid went for Kuro Salehi "KuroKy" Takhasomi on Chen. They then went with Omniknight for MinD_ContRoL with the intention of making the most of Chen's abilities. With Miracle- on Bristleback, Lqiuid's gameplan became clearer. Rounding it up was GH on Earth Spirit and w33 on Windranger.

As if to put even more pressure on Liquid, OG again used its Io Carry Strat with Topson on Gyrocopter and Ceb on Timbersaw. Completing the lineup was JerAx on Tiny and N0tail on Abaddon.

While OG scored first blood against KuroKy, Liquid responded by slowly picking on OG's heroes. With excellent map movement by KuroKy along with the spot-on Shackles by w33, Liquid killed OG's heroes one by one over a span of three minutes. Instead of retailating, OG instead was patient enough to wait until their cores had the needed items. Thus when ana finally had Aghanim's Scepter on his Io, OG started to take the game to Liquid.

One interesting item pick was Diffusal Blade for Gyrocopter. While there was surprise from the choice, it became obvious that this was indeed a good pick given that both Windranger and Bristleback were mana dependent.

A series of team fights went the way of OG with the team eventually making the decision to push for high ground. Liquid was unable to fight back, with OG even going for a fountain dive. In just under 25 minutes, Liquid called for GG and conceded the match.

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OG is back-to-back champions. Photo: Valve

Back-to-Back Wins

The win not only makes OG the first Dota 2 team to win two TI's, they are also the first team to win back-to-back championsips. Along with the win, OG is now the highest earning esports team. The question now is, can OG go for a third championship for TI10?

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