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Dota 2

OG Win ESL One Stockholm 2022

Nikhil Kalro

If you can beat every top team along the way, then it’s likely you have been tested in every possible way. Certainly, this was true of OG, who won ESL One Stockholm 2022 with a 3-1 victory over TSM last week to bring home their fifth DOTA 2 Major overall. However, this one must have brought the most satisfaction, too, because they overcame several adversities.

og esl one stockholm

Photo Credit: ESL | Helena Kristiansson

Prior to the competition, it became amply clear that their designated captain and coach wouldn’t be around due to visa issues. While this was far from ideal, it is a reality they had to contend with. There was no time to brood over what could have been.

They swung into action quickly and made a swift announcement that Sébastien “Ceb” Debs was to come in for team’s captain Mikhail “Misha” Agatov on the main roster, even as Johan “N0tail” Sundstein will be on the mic behind the team. Both Misha and head coach Evgenii “Chuvash” Makarov were unavailable.

This was certainly a massive blow, as it would be for any team, considering Misha and Chuvash formed a fearsome combine that had just ensured the side had completed their DPC Western Europe Tour on a high. It needed a duo who had to come out of retirement to steer the team in a crisis. That they managed to do so seamlessly told you everything you needed to know about the setup.

Ceb had been sitting at home, doing normal things, and playing some pubs. Suddenly, he receives an SOS call and within days, he’s in a cauldron, under extreme pressure. And this is when he chose to bring his experience to the fore. So what if he hadn’t trained much in the build-up? Experience proved to be his biggest commodity.

Ceb and N0tail were returning to competitive sport for the first time since The International 2021, where OG couldn’t convert their streak into a hat trick of titles. They were eventually halted by Team Spirit in their lower bracket run, who then went on to win the marquee event. Coming into ESL One Stockholm, there was a simple matter of channeling that hurt in a positive way. Admirably, they managed to do this.

OG handed the stage to their young blood, instead of allowing them to let Ceb play the off-line role. This paid handsome dividends, as Ammar “ATF” Al-Assaf delivered stunning takes on off-line heroes and builds. It’s not always that Artour “Arteezy” Babaev is made obsolete, but ATF’s proficiency on the face of a massive show of faith from the team spoke volumes of how much they were prepared to empower their players in the face of adversity. This new band of young guns won OG a lot more fans than they would’ve imagined.

Coming into the playoffs, OG were anticipated to do well, yes, given their strong showing at the Western Europe League. No one could’ve forecasted their winning this event, especially after they were consigned to the lower bracket, where they overcame Boom Esports, Fnatic, Thunder Awaken, Gaimin Gladiators, Tundra Esports and, finally, TSM in the grand finale. 

Following a loss to TSM in the Upper bracket quarter-final, they had to take a circuitous route. They did it without a flutter, despite everything around them being unfavourable – roster, luck of the draw, and personnel, among other things.

Even in the final, OG showcased precise drafting and pin-point execution despite playing with a stand-in coach. Whatever recalibration they had to make with respect to their plans were seamlessly made despite TSM making a strong start and winning the first game of the final fair and square. They’re now tied with Team Secret and for most titles. 

This was also some kind of validation of Ceb’s credentials. His first Major triumph came after competing across regions since 2011, and he was the first to achieve it as a replacement.

OG now has $200,000 to make further investments into their developmental squads. They also pocketed 680 Dota Pro Circuit points, helping them clinch a spot at The International 11. As for TSM, they were richer by $100,000 and 610 DPC, which also all but seals their entry into TI11 in Singapore this October. They are also overwhelming favourites to reappear and contest at the Arlington Major in August.

Another surprise was the performance of Beastcoast, who most people had written off. That the South American outfit reached the playoffs and made a serious dash through the lower bracket before eventually losing to Gaimin Gladiators told you how the gap between the sides is narrowing down. 

Jean Pierre “Chris Luck” Gonzales and the rest proved they deserved a shot at glory, and this became evident right from their first match. Touted to be a giant mismatch against Team Spirit, who were expected to win with little or no effort, they were instead given a rude shock as they slipped despite having a very strong draft on paper. Beastcoast gained a solid advantage mid-game owing to a good laning stage, and one shock slowly led to another.

Nothing reflected the competitive nature of the tournament more than the fact that American domination wasn’t to be, with three of the region’s favourite powerhouses starting at potential elimination or elimination lower bracket matches after only the first week. Evil Geniuses looked massively underwhelming for a team of such class and calibre, and were eliminated. TeamSoloMid and Thunder Awaken fought through tough phases and showed character, especially in tie-breakers, to scrap through the Upper Bracket seedings.

Fortunately for Group B, ESL One disqualified Mind Games for their absence, so there was no elimination. That said, once the tie-breakers rolled out, both TA and TSM went into beast mode against Spirit and Liquid to secure favourable seeding in the Upper bracket. When push came to show, they brought their A game to the fore. Overall, this was a tournament that dispelled several notions. 

Overall, through the thrills and spills, OG proved you can never go wrong with the age-old adage that says “you don’t write off a team until it’s over”. Their journey has just begun, and this win could propel them to greater heights. Who knows, for the coach and captain who were summoned last minute, this may just be another step in what could be a redemption journey like no other.