A new Champion is crowned in Vancouver and the East-West cycle is broken as OG claim the Aegis of Champions at TI8 with a stunning 3-2 win over PSG.LGD
After a year of struggle, sacrifice, and dedication, one team now stands above all others in the Dota 2 world, having claimed the ultimate victory in Vancouver. OG has fought through the trials and tribulations of TI8 to lay claim to the Aegis of Champions and the position as the world’s best team. With their incredible run in Vancouver, ana, Topson, 7ckngMad, JerAx, and N0tail have cemented their legacy within the Dota 2 world, and have forever enshrined their names in the vaunted history of the game, joining an elite group of players with the privilege of calling themselves TI Champions. The victory for OG also breaks the famous East-West cycle, with a non-Chinese team winning TI in back to back years for the first time in Dota 2 history.
The road to being a TI Winner has certainly not been an easy one for OG, as the team had more than its fair share of issues to contend with during the season. The European squad entered the first ever Pro Circuit season expected to be one of the stronger teams in the field in the European region, and over the first few months of its campaign it appeared to be getting off to a solid start. While the team didn’t make its first Pro Circuit LAN appearance until November, it was still able to close out the 2017 section of the season with 2 Top 4 finishes, including its first Minor Championship at MDL Macau. The team appeared to retain its impressive form in the first months of 2018, but a lack of success outside of its qualifier runs led to some big changes for the team as it made its first roster change of the season. Those changes did not lead to any further success on the Pro Circuit stage, and in May the bomb was truly dropped on the OG roster with the departure of s4 and Fly to Evil Geniuses. The team was forced into a near complete overhaul of its roster, adding Topson and Ana while moving N0tail from the carry position to the support role. As the Pro Circuit season came to an end, OG found itself fighting through both the Open Qualifier and the TI8 Europe Qualifier in June, but the squad managed to overcome those obstacles to earn its place in Vancouver. From there, we all know how the story went; OG posted an impressive 9-7 record in Group A before going on an absolute tear through the Upper Bracket by taking down VGJ.Storm, Evil Geniuses, and PSG.LGD to earn their place in the Grand Finals on the last day of TI8.
The final day of TI8 began with OG playing the role of spectator, as Evil Geniuses and PSG.LGD faced off in the Lower Bracket Finals for the chance to challenge OG for the Aegis of Champions in the Grand Finals. Game 1 of the match up saw the North American squad pick up an Io and Gyrocopter combo along with fellow core picks of Alchemist and Venomancer. On the Chinese side of the series, PSG.LGD opted for a trio of Spectre, Tiny, and Enchantress with Earthshaker and Bane supports for heavy levels of control. PSG.LGD looked to exert early pressure on EG’s lanes in the hopes of slowing down SumaiL’s Alchemist, but the rest of the North American team’s lineup allowed it to contest that pressure with a number of early skirmishes and fights. PSG.LGD was able to get the better of those fights though, establishing a small net worth lead in the early stages of the match. Led by an impressive performance from Somnus on Tiny, PSG.LGD appeared to be the team in control in the mid and late-game stages as it forced EG into more and more desperate situations. However, the North American team wasn’t willing to give up without a fight, turning back to back fights to nearly wipe out its net worth deficit and give itself new life in the match. Unfortunately for EG, PSG.LGD was quick to recover its control of the match with multiple team fight wins that shattered its opponent’s defenses and allowed the Chinese team to claim a 1-0 lead in the series.
Just 1 loss away from dropping out of TI8, Evil Geniuses opted for a core trio of Spectre, Mirana, and Necrophos in Game 2, with a support duo of Lich and Rubick. PSG.LGD looked to dominate team fights with its lineup, combining cores of Luna, Kunkka, and Wraith King with supports of Dark Willow and Warlock. Once again, the 2 squads began the match with some aggressive play and early fights, with neither side being able to secure itself a significant lead in terms of net worth. As the match progressed into the mid and late-game stages, PSG.LGD’s team fight power came to the forefront as the Chinese squad took full control of the match, claiming 2 lanes of barracks and a massive net worth advantage. EG simply couldn’t recover from that blow, as the North American squad struggled to execute in team fights and couldn’t hold back the final push from PSG.LGD as the Chinese squad closed out a 2-0 victory to advance to the Grand Finals and a Bo5 match up against OG.
With the Aegis of Champions on the line, both squads entered Game 1 of the Grand Finals hoping to gain an advantage with their drafts. OG opted for a core trio of Spectre, Monkey King, and Treant Protector, with team fight supports of Earthshaker and Winter Wyvern. On the other side of the match up, PSG.LGD looked to push the tempo of the game with cores of Storm Spirit, Bloodseeker, and Enchantress alongside a controlling support duo of Crystal Maiden and Elder Titan. PSG.LGD were able to get out in front early thanks to some lane changes, as the offlane Bloodseeker and mid Enchantress were both able to secure a few kills and solid farm in the laning stage. PSG.LGD’s early team fight victories allowed it to build up a sizable net worth advantage, leading by over 7k before the 20 minute mark in the game, but that lead was threatened in the mid-game stage. OG was able to put together a more formidable team fight presence, and took the better of few engagements to essentially wipe out PSG.LGD’s net worth advantage. The European squad’s new found momentum propelled to a dominant late-game performance, as OG took fight after fight and left PSG.LGD with no answers and limited options. When the Chinese squad’s final team fight attempt fell flat, PSG.LGD knew that its window of opportuntiy had closed, calling “gg” to concede defeat in the opening match of the Grand Finals.
Going into Game 2, both sides opted for some slight adjustments to their strategies. OG decided to pick up the popular Io-Gyrocopter combo, with Invoker and Underlord filling out the other cores positions and Disruptor as the other support. PSG.LGD opted for a core trio of Phantom Lancer, Kunkka, and Enchantress with a support duo of Earthshaker and Bane. Early on in the match, PSG.LGD was once again the squad picking up momentum, as its cores significantly out farmed those of OG despite the 2 teams remaining fairly even in terms of net worth. As the match transitioned into the mid and late-game stage, PSG.LGD continued to hold and expand upon its advantage, exerting more and more control over team fights while pushing OG back towards its base. Despite OG’s best efforts, it was unable to contend with its opponent’s team fight power and its cores were vastly out paced by their counterparts as PSG.LGD took near complete control of the match and rampaged its way through OG’s base. With its defenses in tatters and most of its heroes dead without buybacks, OG conceded defeat as the series was tied up at 1-1.
With the Bo5 series now essentially reduced to a Bo3, both sides went into Game 3 of the Grand Finals hoping to take command of the series and put itself just 1 win away from winning TI8. OG looked for team fight control and damage by combined a core trio of Morphling, Phantom Lancer, and Winter Wyvern with supports of Chen and Lina, while PSG.LGD opted for a trio of Alchemist, Weaver, and Brewmaster with Phoenix and Vengeful Spirit supports. For the third game in a row, PSG.LGD was able to come out ahead in the early stages of the match, building up its net worth lead to over 7k through the first 25 minutes of play. Beyond that point, the Chinese squad took things to an even more impressive level, lead by a pair of incredible performances from Ame on Weaver and fy on Phoenix. PSG.LGD dominated team fights, pushed in the lanes to establish near complete control of the map, and annihilated OG’s base en route to net worth lead of nearly 30k and a 2-1 advantage in the series.
With its back against the wall, OG came into Game 4 of the Grand Finals in desperate need of a win to keep itself alive at TI8. The European squad drafted a core trio of Phantom Lancer, Invoker, and Axe, with supports of Io and Chen, while PSG.LGD went with cores of Bloodseeker, Morphling, and Brewmaster alongside a support duo of Tusk and Enchantress. The 2 teams kept things close through the laning and early stages of the match, with both squads appearing willing to take team fights and skirmishes. The relative stalemate carried on for a while, but as the match progressed from the mid-game to the late-game stage, OG began to pull ahead. Thanks in large part to a fantastic performance from Ceb (a.k.a. 7ckngMad) on Axe, OG was able to take the upper hand in team fights, but still ran into difficulties trying to break through PSG.LGD’s base defense. The team’s high ground attempt ended up failing, opening the door for the Chinese squad to pull off back to back team fight wins to wipe out OG’s net worth lead and effectively reset the match in terms of momentum. PSG.LGD was able to capitalize on that situation though, taking multiple team fight wins and dealing significant damage to the European squad’s base. Even down 2 lanes of barracks, OG refused to give in, somehow managing to turn fights and keep its core heroes alive to once again pull even in net worth. Things went from bad to worse for PSG.LGD at that point, as the Chinese squad couldn’t hold back OG from claiming all 3 lanes of barracks for Mega Creeps and swinging the net worth advantage into its own favor by a margin of over 10k just shy of the 1 hour mark. Facing down Mega Creeps and forced to defend its Ancient against near constant pushes, PSG.LGD valiantly attempted to hold off OG and hold out for a miraculous comeback, but that comeback opportunity never came. OG’s final push proved strong enough to secure the win even through PSG.LGD’s defenses, as the European squad tied up the series 2-2 to force a decisive Game 5 on the TI stage.
With the TI8 Grand Finals down to a single do-or-die match, both squads were looking to pull out some surprises in their drafts. OG opted for a high level of magic damage and control with a core trio of Ember Spirit, Zeus, and Magnus with Nature’s Prophet and Rubick supports. Meanwhile, PSG.LGD opted for cores of Terrorblade, Kunkka, and Batrider with a team fight focused support duo Earthshaker and Silencer. PSG.LGD got aggressive early in this match, out killing OG by a wide margin in the laning and early stages and making space for its cores to farm and build up a sizable net worth lead. PSG.LGD had an alarming level of control over the match with a net worth lead of over 7k by the 20 minute mark, but OG still had hopes of turning things around if it could buy more time for its cores to catch up and come online in the late-game. The squad’s opportunity came with a massive fight around the Roshan Pit, as OG took an absolutely stunning team fight win that suddenly swung the momentum of the match in its favor. A subsequent team fight victory pushed the OG lead past the 10k mark in terms of net worth, and allowed the European squad to claim a lane of barracks. Despite its best efforts, PSG.LGD just couldn’t find the right team fight set ups, taking poor engagements that it proved unable to win and losing a second lane of barracks while its net worth deficit ballooned past the 20k mark. The mistakes just continued to pile up for PSG.LGD, and OG was there at every turn to punish its opponent and close out the match to claim a 3-2 victory and the Aegis of Champions.
OG now stands as the Champions of the Dota 2 world, and the organization and its players will forever be able to call themselves TI winners. The European squad has reached the pinnacle of success in Dota, and should it keep its current roster intact, it will almost assuredly enter the next season considered one of, it not the best, teams in the entire world. For now, the team can bask in to glow of claiming the greatest of achievements in the game and relish their position as Champions. However, the best squads rarely take much time to rest on their laurels, and for OG the defense of their title will begin much sooner than in previous years. The deadline for teams to register their rosters for the next Pro Circuit season is just 3 weeks away, with the qualifiers for the first Major of the 2018-2019 season set to begin shortly after. Dota 2 never truly stops, but for now, OG can enjoy and savor their success having fought and clawed their way to a position as the Champion of TI8 and the Dota 2 world.