OG are defending TI champions. In both TI8 and TI9, they lifted the Aegis after an incredible upper-bracket run. Now they’re here to do it again. They spoke with us in a press conference ahead of their game against Team Secret.
TI reigning champions OG spoke to approved press in a media conference ahead of the start of the main event. Esports.gg was present and we're here to tell you the biggest takeaways.
"This feels like the first time we have to prove ourselves" - Ceb
There's a lot of expectations for OG at TI10. The biggest question is can they handle that pressure, and Sébastien "Ceb" Debs had the answer:
“You know, there's no I mean, there can be pressure coming from the outside kinda, it doesn't matter, we don't put pressure on our shoulders. We actually try to manage people's expectations, sort of. But that takes a bit of focus. And once we have managed to do that, then everything is normal.
“And to be fair, it's been two years since our last LAN tournament. So TI9 and TI8, it kind of feels like a good old dream. And it doesn't even feel like reality anymore. This feels very fresh. This feels like the first time that we have to prove ourselves. So that's the world we live in right now.”
Ceb on eye surgery: "It’s a challenge outside of the game, but in the game, it's like nothing happened."
Speaking of Ceb, in light of his recent eye surgery, his health was a top topic of conversation. Was the eye causing him trouble?
“No, it hasn't been much of an issue in the sense that when the Dota starts, it takes over and everything is normal, it hasn't bothered me at all. It's more like, in between the games and you know, the days or maybe there's more fatigue. And it's a lot of logistics for me to follow the treatment and all of it. So in that sense, it’s a challenge outside of the game, but in the game, it's like nothing happened. So I'm very grateful.”
We asked Ceb how much doubt in his mind that he would actually miss TI, or if he thought he was going to make it no matter what?
“We actually took the other approach. Until a few days before TI actually I wasn't sure how I was going to go, it was really a matter of one or two days. See if my body would recover quick enough, which ended up being the case, but I wasn't sure of that.
“So I kind of had to give up on TI, so that I could also focus on recovery. And the team also gave up on me momentarily.” The rest of OG chimed in at this point. They didn’t agree that they’d given up on Ceb. But the team agreed that Micke had been a hero to stand in and prepare:
“Micke, he was really committed to building something in that short amount of time. Everybody did a really good job of pushing away this part of me coming back and focusing on what they had to do in order to be ready in case I wouldn't. And I think they did a great job at it. Then eventually, I got the good news. So it meant a lot of very solid changes for the team, which has been a challenge in itself, but it also has upsides.”
Motivation: "It has always been about the team in a way. About competition, about achieving something together." - Ceb
What drives OG? Is it the $40+ million dollar prize pool? Almost all of OG has already won enormous amounts of money, so does the money mean as much as it used to. Or is it about prestige now for repeat winners Topson, N0Tail and Ceb
“I feel like for us, it has never been about money. It has always been about the team in a way. About competition, about achieving something together. Like about so many things. Because we used to compete with the same fire and the same drive when we were promised like headphones from winning the tournament! And we actually never got this headset (we’re is still waiting, you know)."
"And of course, the stakes have grown bigger and you get so much more from winning. And it's of course, an amazing thing and it's life changing. But it never had anything to do with it. It didn't shift our focus in any capacity."
The team's newest member, Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan, had a different answer. He’s gone on record as saying money was his biggest motivation in the past. Asked if anything about his motivations had changed since joining OG, his answer was simple: “The Money.”
Getting ready for TI10 and SumaiL's return
But if SumaiL’s motivations differ somewhat from his teammates, then it’s not affected the team’s gameplay. Since joining the team, the squad has seen it's fortunes rise, as SumaiL was one of the driving forces behind the team’s TI qualification. OG initially signed SumaiL at the start of 2020, but he was later dropped. His resigning in 2021 was a surprise to some, but the team was quick to explain:
“As far as the team is concerned, the only reason we parted ways for a bit was nothing to do with Dota or with the relationship that we had as teammates and everything to do with the environment, the Covid, the limits, all of that. I'm sure a lot of things would have been different. Things were awesome basically before we got like hard-stuck [with Covid] and it was a pity but look at us now! United again and ready to play together!”
If Ceb sounds excited, it’s because he is. Talking about getting to play on LAN for the first time in over a year, he elaborated.
“At this point it's more than excitement? It's like Christmas time for us or like whatever, like you name it. It's like the best time of the year for us.This is basically why we play this game is for these games right?
On whether playing on LAN give them an advantage:
“We have been dying waiting, waiting for this game, for this environment and this game. And yeah we're convinced it gives us a huge advantage, it’s hard to say with other teams. But it'll definitely push the other teams a lot. It's an environment in which we really thrive. All of us.”
A very different TI
As reigning champions, as people who thrive off LAN and the environment, a TI with fans will be very different for OG. Or will it? Johan "N0tail" Sundsteinhad a few things to say about the Arena Naţională and it’s TI setup: “We got to see the venue today and we got to see how it's gonna look like for mainstage, and I still felt a lot of hype, I still felt the realness.”
“It's very nice. It's going to be very hype. Sadly there’s no crowd. Of course, it would have always been nicer with people there. It looks like it was really ready to go. But since it’s TI and TI games, I don't think I'm going to feel much different once I sit down and get into the game. “
“But I, I do think it's a shame that people don't get to come and also witness. Witness this day, to witness to Dota and like feel the atmosphere. I'm already excited for one when that gets to return but as for this TI, like, it's still going to be the best games of the year, best games for many years. So that's more than enough.”
One thing will be the same for OG though: Voice line spamming. The team is infamous for it's chat wheel shenanigans, leading to most opponents to just muting them. So why keep spamming?
“Like, it's just, it's a battle cry. It’s for us.” says N0tail.
“Just in case they think about unmuting us for just a second” Adds Ceb.
What's their favorite voice line this year? For N0tail and Ceb it's Alvaro "AvoPlus" Sanchez Velasco’s talent autograph voiceline: “Ratatatataa, you’re dead.”
“That same kind of vibe [as Lakad Matatag]. Laughs and aggression is what we’re looking for," said Ceb.
OG face Team Secret in the Upper Bracket on October 12th, at 12:30pm EEST