In European Dota, there are few more landmark rivalries than the one shared by OG and Team Nigma. Headlining the grand finals of TI9, when the later stack was still Team Liquid, these two orgs are always a treat to watch when they go head to head.
Today’s (July 8th) clash between Team Nigma and OG in the TI10 WEU Qualifiers was no different. With a trip to the Upper Bracket Finals on the line, to face Tundra Esports, both teams broke out all the stops to try and win. OG used Chen, a hero that hadn’t seen any play this qualifier so far, while Team Nigma’s players pulled out some picture perfect play to secure victories.
Ultimately it was OG who came out on top, using every trick they had to secure a victory. But it definitely wasn't a sure thing by any means, as Nigma pushed them to the limit in three games.
Game 1 - Is Chen Secretly Broken for OG?
For game one OG’s composition was seemingly about maximum aggression. An Axe, a Pangolier, and surprisingly a Chen, a previously unpicked hero in all of Qualifiers. But the aggressions started off muted, thanks to the high level of harass from Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi’s Lina mid and Kuro "KuroKy" Salehi Takhasomi’s Hoodwink. Topias Miikka "Topson" Taavitsainen’s Pango in particular fell behind in mid, being bullied by Miracle- and compounded by several misplays.
Despite this, Sébastien "Ceb" Debs quickly took control of the bottom lane with his Axe, making a slight disadvantage in bot meaningless. What’s more, Johan "N0tail" Sundstein’s unorthordox Chen pick was coming up huge. With N0tail stacking camps out of control, there was disgusting amounts of farm for Ceb, Topson and Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan on Leshrac.
The aggression of OG started to come online by the 12 minute mark, and Nigma became more concerned with punishing the aggression after the fact. Nigma, in focusing on kills, slowly lost their structures. Meanwhile OG farmed up on Axe and Lesh, pushing towers instead. At this point, Ceb fully started taking over the game with his super fed Axe.
The Axe was so strong that he was a clear target each time Nigma wanted to fight. But deleting a three-position Axe still left a Pangolier and Leshrac alive. In many ways, despite being so fed and strong, Ceb was still just the same offlane bait and distraction he needed to be.
The game slowed down at the thirty minute mark, but only so that OG could wrap things up cleanly, to prevent a repeat of something like today’s earlier Royal Never Give Up versus Elephant game. OG took game one with a statement victory, showing a rare form we’ve missed from the team.
Game 2 - OG Run Into A Tiny Problem
Seeing the Axe as the major problem, Nigma banned it away. This led to a completely different style of draft for OG, with SumaiL on a Chaos Knight and more utility for the rest of OG. Nigma was clearly refreshed after a domination by OG last game, and started out strong. Securing early kills across the map gave them a big early lead.
The early game devolved into a blood bath, with Nigma prioritising lanes over all else. Miracle- with a huge lead on Tiny, began roaming around getting kills, diving tier 3 towers at eight minutes.
OG, on the other hand countered with rotations in attempt to shutdown Miracle-, again focusing on towers. This lead to back and forth fighting with each trying to get as many kills and objectives as possible. What’s more, OG’s better understanding of team fights seems to mean each time they engaged, they took a win.
Almost every time Nigma tried to get a fight or catch, they’d instantly get turned on. This lead to a huge lead for OG. Despite such a massive early lead for Team Nigma, SumaiL’s Chaos Knight was now the biggest net-worth hero. Having out-farmed the Luna, he was firmly in control of the game until disaster struck...
A huge punish of OG’s overextension by Team Nigma took away the Aegis from OG, and wiped them, finally giving the stack a foothold to take back the game. WIth Luna, one of the fastest structure killers in the game, Nigma were able to take the middle tier two and look towards OG’s high ground. Another mistake by OG firmly swung the game into Nigma’s control with Miracle- now extremely dangerous on his Tiny.
With the Tiny so strong, there was really little OG could do, and with Luna still able to delete structures, Team Nigma took game two.
Game 3 - Throws Upon Throws
With Nyx Assassin finally unbanned in the first phase, Nigma picked up the champ due to its incredibly strong Aghs ability. Meanwhile, OG went back to the Chen, clearly looking to try and replicate the success of Game One.
More aggression early to start the game from Nigma, but OG were able to keep it limited. However, just like last time, N0tail’s Chen was starting to stack huge numbers of camps and gifting it to SumaiL. In the bot lane though, after taking top tower, Ivan Borislavov "MinD_ContRoL" Ivanov’s Tidehunter was able to sit and protect towers for Nigma.
Eventually, it was the Tidehunter that made the difference at Roshan, where Nigma were able to destroy OG and take the objective.
As a result Nigma were able to start to scale in exactly the way they wanted .The Nature’s Prophet on Igor "iLTW" Filatov and TA for Miracle- were able to start to get massive, and push lanes as they pleased. OG, for their part, started to play much safer. But after a disastrous fight for Team Nigma at the second Roshan, OG managed to wipe their opponent’s twice and take back control of the game.
Another insane team fight, firmly cemented OG’s lead, as Team Nigma just proved unable to kill OG’s carries. After pushing into high ground, OG pushed all the way to tier fours. After seeming to back, OG pulled a fake and charged back. Ultimately, one more fight was all the team needed to secure the win.
OG is strong, Chen might just be luck
The two standouts this series were Miracle- and the hero Chen. Miracle- absolutely dominated his lane the entire series, making Topson look incredibly weak. But it was too little to defeat the awesome power of OG's bizarre Chen pick. OG found something that no one else was playing, and used it to win in convincing fashion. For fans of the team, this isn't anything they haven't seen before though. In fact, picking up seemingly odd but oppressive mechanics is what won them two TIs after all. Whether anyone else can put a stop to it, let alone replicate its success remains to be seen.
OG now go on to the Upper Bracket finals, while Team Nigma must battle their way through a dangerous Lower Bracket for any chance of heading to TI10.