- Why is OG so good? No one really knows the answer to that, but we try to figure it out by taking a deeper look at OG and figuring out what makes this team so unique.
OG: A Story Of Friendship, Art, and Having Fun
TI has come and gone, and the experience felt somewhat dreamlike to me. I have watched many teams go about their matches in what looked like complete mastery of their craft, and it felt that we truly reached the peak of DotA. A few years ago, only a select few players were able to reach the 1k GPM benchmark, now we are seeing it happen very consistently on Alchemist. The skill gap in DotA is narrowing exponentially, and teams are finding it more and more difficult to set themselves apart. That is, until OG played.
I consider myself to be an above-average DotA player, and I’m proud to have the ability to come up with logical explanations as to what teams are doing in a game, and why they are doing it. Every pro team in DotA can be understood because the entire player base has decades worth of communal knowledge that we use to try and make sense of what the best are doing. We have things like “Net Worth” and “Creep Score” that give us a very good indicator of which team is winning in a game. DotA has been, for about 10 years, a game about gold. Many will argue that it is a game about destroying your enemies Ancient, but that is not the case.
A Deep Look Inside
I’d like you to take a trip down memory lane, and try an remember how it felt when you were learning a new hero. Let’s take an extreme example, and assume that Invoker is that hero. The first 10 games will have you trying to remember the order of each spell. Then 20 games after that, you will try and master the different combos to maximize your spells impact. Then, once you hit the 50 game benchmark, you will be armed with the knowledge and skill needed to actually do DotA things while you play Invoker.
In your first few games, you likely weren’t paying attention to your last hits, rotations, and openings to push. You were completely absorbed to actually playing your hero properly because it’s extremely alien to you. As you get better, you start to focus on the more important things, like Net Worth, item builds and split pushing to name a few. As you continue to practice Invoker, invoking spells become second nature, and pulling off combos is nothing more than a product of muscle memory. Ask any respectable Invoker player, the heroes difficulty has absolutely nothing to do with how you use his spells. Literally, any player can perform a basic combo, but not everyone can play Invoker.
A Story of Subconsciousness
Although our brains are brilliantly intricate and complex, we as humans struggle at multitasking. We tend to do our best work when we are able to completely devote our brainpower to achieving a certain task. The same goes for anyone playing a game of DotA. For example, when a core is in lane grabbing last hits, he isn’t actively looking around the map for potential rewards, his attention is completely devoted to making sure he gets every single creep. This fact remains true for players of any skill level, but one thing must be kept in mind. As we get better at a certain skill, we slowly but surely get the ability to mindlessly do it, and have it be second nature.
I can say for a fact, that an extremely mind-numbing task to a 1K MMR player, is nothing more than a fraction of a second worth of effort for someone like Suma1l. With that in mind, we can build a logical chain of how teams develop over time. Earlier in this article, I mentioned that the 1 thousand GPM benchmark was almost a pipe dream for everyone just a couple of years ago. Now we are consistently seeing teams being able to achieve that. One can say that this is a result of players being more efficient, by virtue of them being better at being efficient, which is true but not wholly. My theory as to why is this (partly due to how gold is different from a few years ago) is that teams are just so much better at DotA. Think back to the first few games you played Invoker; you probably made some sick combos here an there, but what was your GPM? What was your Tower Damage, and did you win your lane?
Subconsciousness in A Professional Context (Player Skill Is A Myth)
That is an important question to ask because, in the context of professional DotA, we can ask an extension of this question. Team Secret were bar none, the most powerful team in the DPC season. But even then, they lost to Mineski, EG, and even Chaos E.C. at the TI9 tournament. Why did Secret lose these games? These are the games where analysts don’t talk about “the best players in their respective position’s” because that is a cock and bull argument. You could say that MidOne has a slight (and I mean slight) edge to someone like W33haa. But does that mean that MidOne is a definitively better player than W33haa? Absolutely not, because teams are way too close in skill, for that to be the only reason that teams actually win a game.
What actually set’s teams apart, is what they don’t do in a game of DotA. I hope you’ve caught on to the idea that I’m hinting, which is that a very large part of what happens in a game of DotA consists of things we don’t realize we’re doing. Try and imagine, that if an average player puts his entire focus into securing lane creeps, what does a pro player actually devote his focus on? In reality, no one can say for sure, even the professional’s themselves. But as I watched the games played at TI, I have a somewhat palpable explanation to this.
A Story of Consciousness
The average professional to semi-pro team enters the draft thinking “We need a position 1 safelane carry, and he will not be fighting while we make space for him. Then our pos 2 will have to be in a good position to win his lane, so that we can play around his advantage. And our offlaner, …..” This is a very typical thought process to be had by the drafter. But I would argue that the worlds true elites, don’t waste their time thinking about such things. They already know how gold works, they know what each lane means in the context of their game. They do not need to ponder any face value reasoning to justify a pick, because they already know it by heart.
The “Art” of DotA 2
OG treat a game of DotA like a blank canvas and empty vessel that they are preparing to put their mark on. A painter will go into a project, by choosing a subject, and then selecting his tools to undergo that project. His initial preparations consist of picking different colored paints and brushes, to achieve his task. Take OGs draft in their first game against Liquid. OG picked Elder Titan, Spectre, Pugna, Enchantress, and Tiny. Now, let’s try and explore these heroes at face value. Elder Titan could be played in the position 5 or 4 role, Spectre is a pure position 1, Pugna could be played in the position 2, 3 and 4 role, Enchantress could be played at the position 3, or 4 role and Tiny could be played at the position 2, 3, and 4 role.
Even at the conclusion of the draft, the viewers and analysts are completely at a loss to who is playing what, and so is Liquid. When a painter picks his 5 pigments, he doesn’t think about what these colors are meant to achieve in the painting. In a landscape painting, blue paint is meant to color the sky, maybe some water, and an eighth of a rainbow. Green is for the grass, leaves, and various vegetation in the background. In the context of this draft, Pugna achieves 4 tasks; he pushes, nukes, heals, and makes space for Spectre. At that point, does it really matter how much gold this Pugna gets, or where he lanes? OG went into each and every draft with a distinct vision to what each hero is supposed to do, where teams were trying to play around OG’s painting.
Making A “Mark”
Whenever OG enter the Mercedes-Benz Arena, they act like they own the place. They act without a single care in the world and know that everyone is watching them to be entertained. This philosophy of theirs goes all the way to the privacy of their own homes, to the last few seconds of a 60-minute game. Win or lose, OG have painted a picture for the enemy team to look at, and for viewers at home to be dazzled by. One team could be thinking; “OG are picking high tempo heroes, so we ought to ban them so we can out tempo them.” Where OG would respond “Damn, that game was fun! I can’t wait to play our next one!”
The theme of last years TI (TI8), was a theme of skill levels equalizing. It was at that point, 365 days ago, that teams realized that everyone is pretty perfect at DotA. Position 1’s had impeccable farm patterns, position 2’s had the best laning prowess, position 3’s were at the peak of creativity, and so on and so forth. Fast forward to just a few days ago, a common saying for this TI was that “I love DotA, and I have so much fun playing it”. DotA is moving away from the realm of science, and statistics, and moving into a realm of philosophy and art.
Arbitration, Meaninglessness, and The Bigger Picture
To OG, there isn’t a “Laning Phase”, an “Early Game”, a “Mid Game”, or a “Late Game”. There is just a game; a blank canvas, just waiting to be filled. I realize we’re nearing the realm of subjectivity, but what other explanation is there to why OG are so dominant? They are absolutely not the most mechanically skilled team. Topson is not the best midlaner, Ana is not the most efficient safelaner, and Ceb is not the most stable offlaner. But OG doesn’t care, because they are just doing what they want to do in a game, where other teams are playing around what OG is doing. And a big part of that is due to the pace of how OG plays.
One Final Look Inside
Imagine yourself in a pub game, and an incredibly fat Invoker is going around killing everything in sight. You’re first instinct, is to react to his rotations, try to take him down, try and keep up with his snowball. OG are reminiscent of that snowballing Invoker. They have a massive sense of excitement going into a game, because they want to finish their painting. So they rush to get it done. As I write this article, I feel a rush of endorphins, as I try and convey my thoughts to you. And as you play Invoker, and you snowball, you feel a rush to end the game.
When we play our 100th Invoker game, we are in complete control of our hero, and we have a very good idea of what we want to do in a game. But in our 1000th? our 5000th? We ascend into something much bigger than that. Invoker is “my hero”, and I’m going to show everyone why I am the best Invoker in the world. And that, ladies in gentlemen, is why OG won TI twice, it’s because they don’t think about anything at all, other than playing the game. OG have ascended above other teams in a sense that, they don’t play for anything other than showing the world what OG is. And that ability is one that teams will be trying to emulate in the future, and this is the path DotA 2 will take.
Back to back!
We’re your The Internationals 2019 champions and double Aegis winners!
— OG @ #TI9 🇨🇳 (@OGesports) August 25, 2019