OG can’t possibly win another TI, right?
Dota 2’s The International 10, arguably the biggest event in all of esports, begins tomorrow. A lot has happened in the days leading up to the $40 million USD tournament: a sudden venue change, COVID-19 outbreaks in team camps, and most recently, the cancellation of live audience attendance. Without a doubt, things have been chaotic, but guess which of the 18 participating teams thrives in chaos the most? The defending champions.
Much like the last two TIs, OG’s route to get to the world championship was far from smooth. But they won both. The main difference, however, is the fact that their back-to-back title-winning roster won’t be complete when they try to retain the Aegis for the second time.
Playmaker Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka and prodigal carry Anathan “ana” Pham announced their retirement from pro Dota last year and have since had their boots filled by Martin “Saksa” Sazdov and Syed Sumail Hassan. OG nearly missed out on Sébastien “Ceb” Debs’ leadership as well, but doubts on Ceb’s TI appearance were quickly resolved with a tweet and a mini-documentary that dove into the offlaner’s relationship with his family.
“The two times were very different, that’s what hit me the most,” said Ceb about how he felt winning the last two TIs in a conversation with his sister. Two identical trophies stood propped up on the shelf behind him. “The first time was a big shock and the second time, maybe there was a little bit more pressure around it.”
It’s amazing to think that even after winning TI8, OG weren’t touted as favorites to defend their crown. We can attribute it to the fact that a lot can happen in a year and their Major results then weren’t exactly flattering. The same can be said about their results ahead of The International’s tenth iteration. OG’s performance in the regional league of the last Dota Pro Circuit left much to be desired: mid-table finishes and zero Major appearances.
“Winning a third time, it would mean a lot, it would help me close the book,” said Ceb somberly in the closing act of the 10-minute documentary. “But at the same time, I’ve learned to be grateful. Dota has given me so much back, more than I could have ever asked for.”
Ceb knows, and the rest of OG knows that picking up another Aegis won’t be a walk in the park. Chinese teams that dominated Singapore and Kyiv, an Evil Geniuses team determined to go further than second place, and many more lie in wait.
Once again, OG have the odds stacked against their favor. But if the stars align—wait, isn’t that some other team’s catchphrase?
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