OG and N0tail's struggles continue with failure to reach Chongqing Major
After a long hiatus from competitive Dota, OG esports made their return to high-level play at the Bucharest Minor, ahead of the Chongqing Major. Going into the event they were among the favourites, with they and Ninjas in Pyjamas expected to contest the final but, as the tournament unfolded, it became clear OG were not at their old level. Ultimately, their fans were wringing their hands, rather than toasting another success.
It is worth also mentioning the Ninjas, who were led into this event by the legendary PPD, but failed to make an impact and ended their run in fourth. Stodgy, unoriginal drafting is not going to do the job in 2019 when it comes to top-level Dota, with the likes of Team Secret’s Puppey tearing up the rulebook and it’ll worry the org too, who no doubt spent handsomely to come back to top-level Dota, and are likely to be very concerned that their new team hasn’t been able to deliver that. Enough of that, though, let’s get back to the main disappointment, OG.
Life after ana
For those who are very, very new to Dota, OG won TI8 in Canada last year having come into the event as rank outsiders. Their triumph was hailed across the world of esports, with leading N0tail getting a lot of the credit and, given the unlikely nature of their victory, that made sense but in the aftermath they lost key man ana, and this results suggests that without him their ambitions are going to be far harder to achieve.
Ana's departure initially saw the team bring in Pajkatt but he left just a few days prior to the start of the Minor, with the team citing a lack of chemistry and synergy. His replacement, iLTW, did a solid job in Bucharest but was far from spectacular and never hit the heights ana displayed at TI or in his time with OG generally, with the teams's fate following the same path.
In other circumstances, losing an event won by EHOME, who were the eventual champions in Bucharest, wouldn’t be as bad, but this is not even a particularly good version of the Chinese side, and Keen, Gambit and NiP were also better than the TI8 champions over the course of the event. This result doesn’t speak to the legitimacy of their TI win but it does demonstrate how incredibly hard it is going to be to regain that level, especially in the absence of ana.
Can N0tail get his mojo back?
It also has to be said that in N0tail was credited with the success of the team for TI, due to his discovery of some of the players, his own decision making now needs to be called into question, not just with their drafting in Bucharest but also the roster decisions he took, and the choice to take an extended hiatus post-TI, during which other teams were honing their blades. How he returns his team to the top is another question entirely, but we can assume there will be no return for ana if there hasn’t already, meaning he needs to find yet another keystone player to create a winning team around.
On the bright side, though, this is great news for Chinese Dota, who have been relying on French money for a while now, with PSG.LGD the only elite level team from that region. Vici Gaming’s revival and EHOME appearing at a Major again is a great start, with TI9 set to take place in Shanghai, and it’d be cool for China to generate some positive headlines after a fairly fractious end to 2018. For now, though, the story is OG, and the real question is: "How does N0tail get his mojo back?".