Defending champions OG have done what was previously thought impossible.
In the first-ever The International Grand Final to feature past champions, OG defeated TI7 winners Team Liquid 3-1 to become the first-ever double Aegis winners and take home the grand prize of over US$15.5 million.
Anathan “ana” Pham, Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen, Sebastien “Ceb” Debs, Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka, and Johan “N0tail” Sundstein will etch their names behind the coveted Aegis of Champions for the second-straight time.
OG opened the finals with a late game-oriented lineup with ana on Spectre, Topson on Tiny, Ceb on Enchantress, and JerAx on Pugna. Liquid looked to end it in the early-midgame with Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi on Templar Assassin, Aliwi “w33” Omar on Meepo, and Ivan “MinD_ControL” Ivanov on Tidehunter.
Liquid came out on top in the laning phase and were on track to derail OG’s late game-oriented strategy, especially when they punished OG’s attempts at making aggressive moves to make space for ana to farm.
With both the Meepo and Templar Assassin armed and ready, Liquid firmly placed themselves in the driver’s seat and took down OG’s mid lane barracks.
But were quickly unseated by the defending champions when they were chased down and teamwiped by their opponents. OG then further extended their lead by beating back Liquid’s attempts to contest Rosh, which then let them take two sets of barracks and take over the ensuing teamfights.
With OG having turned the game on its head, Liquid looked like they were eventually about to go down one game in the series. But the TI7 champions pulled off another one of those spectacular holds that got them to the finals against the defending champions, turning the tides once more.
Despite Liquid marching headfirst towards OG’s throne, ana mistakenly chose to save his buyback and could not help his teammates in holding off their opponents in time. With ana only buying back as the OG throne was being heavily assaulted, Liquid was able to snatch a victory away from OG in the first match of the Grand Finals.
Liquid picked up Templar Assassin and Tidehunter again in game two for w33 and MinD_ControL, while Miracle was put on Lifestealer and GH on Enigma. OG looked to bounce back with comfort picks for their two cores, with ana on Ember Spirit and Topson on Monkey King.
OG bounced back from letting the first game slip from their hands with a masterful showing of relentless aggression against Liquid’s greedy lineup. The defending champions took full advantage of Miracle picking up a Hand of Midas and w33 sitting in the jungle to farm by running around the map, picking fights, and getting lots of kills with impunity.
With Liquid’s cores scrambling to get whatever farm they can around the map, the core duo of ana’s Ember Spirit and Topson’s Monkey King flexed their high mobility and damage to repeatedly get key pickoffs. The entire OG lineup essentially became a roving death squad chasing down the hapless Liquid heroes, who were virtually powerless to fight back.
OG eventually became far too much for Liquid to handle, as the defending champions easily took a fight at their mid barracks where Topson got a Rampage. It didn’t take long for the defending champions to pick off Liquid’s cores without buybacks and tie the series 1-1.
In game three Liquid showed a lot of trust in the Templar Assassin by picking it once again for w33, to go with Juggernaut for Miracle and Tidehunter for MinD_ControL. OG countered with a high-damage tri-core with ana on Faceless Void, Topson on Pugna, and Ceb on Enchantress.
OG got their momentum going from their game two victory, with Topson dominating w33 in the mid lane then going on to lead his team in taking multiple kills and towers from the Liquid side.
With cores that have yet to fully come online, Liquid could do little against the combination of huge magic damage burst from Topson’s Pugna and the teamfight control from ana’s Faceless Void and JerAx’s Tiny. With the clear upper hand in clashes, OG quickly closed in on Liquid’s base and took their bottom lane barracks after just 19 minutes — with a clean teamfight win by the ruins to boot.
Liquid later dared to venture outside of their base in the hopes of catching OG unawares and somehow turn the tides in their favor, but that only ended with another win for the defending champions. One more victorious clash outside of Liquid’s base forced the 23-minute GG and put OG just one game away from becoming the first-ever two-time TI champions. Topson notably had a godly performance on Pugna, finishing with a KDA of 17/3/11.
OG pulled out their signature carry Io for the championship game, with Notail on Abaddon to protect him and Topson on Gyrocopter as a secondary damage-dealer. Liquid countered with Miracle on Bristleback, w33 on Windranger, and MinD_ControL on Omniknight.
Liquid flipped the script with an aggressive lineup in the hopes of shutting down the timing of the carry Io — in the same way they did against Team Secret in the Lower Bracket — to great success. Liquid would even dive OG the same way the defending champions do just to keep more pressure on ana’s carry Io.
But all that could not stop the Io from getting to level 15 and picking up Aghanim’s Scepter to hit its power spike, which promptly turned the tides in favor of the defending champions in a massive teamfight in the top lane. With an inexorable momentum on their side, OG marched towards Liquid’s base and demolished its hapless defenders to force GG and claim their ultimate victory.
OG’s unbelievable run from winning their first championship last year up to their victory in this TI yielded them approximately US$27 million and the undisputed title of the greatest team in the history of Dota 2.
Check out our full TI9 Main Event coverage here, and don’t miss out on the Group Stage action.