OG might have been favorites heading into Valve’s Dota 2 Major hosted in Kiev, but they certainly didn’t look it by game five of the grand finals. Arguably the more talented team, and certainly the more experienced, it wasn’t until a fateful team fight in the 39th minute of the final match that the European squad re-discovered their inner champions.
They and Virtus Pro traded matches up until the very end, with the Russians looking the stronger side despite OG taking first blood. The latter’s Anathan “ana” Pham seemed to be able to clutch advantages out of thin air, as if the sheer will of the position two mid’s desire to be awesome was enough to make up for VP’s superior play calling and composure. By game five, however, the momentum appeared to be firmly in the latter’s corner.
Dota 2 matches take a long time these days. Even series seem to rarely go two and out, making for long wars of attrition where even when all seems lost victory remains a possibility. That’s how OG found themselves nearly two thirds of an hour into the final game of the grand finals trailing their opponents 5-22 in kills. In any regular pub match at home, that would be your cue to get up and go grab some refreshment while waiting to queue for the next game, but at Kiev, and for OG, it presented itself as the perfect opportunity to strike and knock an unsuspecting VG off balance.
OG found themselves stalking Roman “RAMZES666" Kushnarev’s Alchemist in the jungle near the Radiant ancient camp when Johan “N0tail” Sundstein’s Timbersaw decided to pounce and initiate an uphill team fight. It proved all that was needed to open the flood gates and unleash a torrent of chaos. VP’s heavy-hitter, Outworld Devourer, was kept out of the fight early on thanks to a well timed Eul’s Scepter that spun him up into the air and kept his owner, Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko, out of the early fight.
With everyone crunched up together, OG was able to unleash damage by way of Timbersaw and Troll Warlord, two heroes who do well in a brawl but are less effective when things are kept at a distance. At one point, three of VP’s players were all but stacked on top of one another, providing appealing targets for OG and the team’s bashes, short stuns that come at random intervals when a special item is wielded, which kept the Russians from being able to retaliate as they had all throughout the game up to that point.
OG managed to wipe all but one in about twenty seconds, forcing VP’s RAMZES666 to buy back and unload some of his teams previous advantage in order to defend against the coming onslaught. Those four kills, including all of VP’s principals, provided OG precisely the momentum they needed to claw their way back into the game after being decimated in its earlier stags thanks to the Russian’s usually superior positioning and timing. Fight after fight, OG seemed to scrape its way ahead, until in the waning moments of the match VP stood in their base outgunned and unable to cope. Their previous game plan had failed, its script of how things would unfold supplanted by another one, and they lacked the ingenuity to turn things back around.
Leads like VP had earlier in the game, double-digit kills and thousands in gold more then their opponents, used to entail crushing curtaining, and in most cases they still do, but increasingly Dota 2 has show a penchant for late game surprises thanks to a number of factors including recent patches and the growing experience and talent of the competitors. And while OG didn’t look as good as VP for most of the series, the fact that they had to play from behind to ultimately win the long, drawn out tournament makes their achievement feel that much more earned. The diverse team of young and old didn’t play crappy and then get lucky, they played crappier than their opponents and then made up for it in the span of ten minutes when push came to shove.
“We said we can still win this, we can still win this,” OG’s captain, Tal “Fly” Aizik, said his team were once again crowned champions. “At the end we know these guys are buying without buybacks and they just started panicking towards the end, and we knew we’re going to take it our way and we’re gonna win it. When they died without buybacks we started going crazy.”
This marks the fourth Dota 2 Major OG has won. But having never claimed the game’s biggest competitive prize, Fly and his team will be looking to march into The International 7 later this year and cement their legacy as one of the all time greats. Still, the cool million OG leaves Kiev with won’t hurt.