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Three days into The International 2019, OG really looks like they have taken that next step needed to properly contend at the highest level of play.
A slow start to the season didn’t hold the TI8 Champions back from eventually getting back to top form within the first few matches of the group stage. Opening the tournament with a split series against a relatively unproven Natus Vincere roster, OG managed to bounce back and have been on a tear through the opposition.
Starting out 1-1, the European squad proceeded to 2-0 Infamous in a very one-sided series. That put them back on track with a positive record to end day one.
Day two is when all the pieces really fell into place, starting with a match against Evil Geniuses that sparked shades of the rivalry between former teammates Tal “Fly” Aizik and Johan “N0tail” Sundstein. The history between players didn’t seem to affect the outcome much, as OG swept the struggling EG team.
The win set the tone for OG early, giving them the confidence to try something completely wild when they faced Ninjas in Pyjamas later that day. Instead of going with a standard draft that they knew would fit their style, N0tail snagged Io and handed it off to Anathan “ana” Pham to use in position one.
Though it wasn’t a strict carry, ana proceeded to play one of the weirdest Wisp games many viewers had ever seen, running into lanes to act as both a distraction and to farm, while also being able to support teammates once the later levels came around.
It worked so well in their game one win, that when NiP didn’t ban it in game two, ana ran the same setup again. And surprisingly, NiP couldn’t adapt to the slight changes made around Wisp and fell 2-0.
NiP came the closest to beating OG that anyone would over the next several matches, as the reigning champs took down Royal Never Give Up to close out day two at 6-0. Their biggest test of the tournament awaited them as Virtus Pro sat in their path on day three, but the notion of losing to the fighting bears was quickly wiped away.
Game one was a 21-minute slaughter as OG shocked Virtus and walked to a win. During several team fights in game two, it looked like Virtus had a solid chance to take down their opponents, but Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen continued to play on another level and helped secure yet another sweep.
After beating Virtus, OG already held the top seed in Group B because Vici Gaming were struggling to win games. But as they faced off against Fnatic in their final series of the day, they had a chance to secure the top seed.
Much like Virtus in their second game, Fnatic had several chances to best OG at the start but were outplayed heavily in the second half of both games. A botched draft strategy in game two led to ana’s Slark playing a big part cleaning up late.
That win put OG at an unmatched 9-1, locking them in for not only an upper bracket appearance when The International 2019’s main event begins on Aug. 20, but also the top seed for Group B as a whole.
OG will play Vici at 1am CT on Aug. 18 for their final game in the group stage.