OG Esports became the Cinderella story of the year in esports after taking down PSG.LGD 3-2 to win The International 2018 in Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, capping an incredible run of games from qualifiers to becoming $11 million richer Saturday night.
Despite entering the grand finals from the upper bracket, OG was considered the underdog throughout the tournament, thanks to multiple roster moves made just prior to TI. With two players who had played only two years of professional Dota between them, including team captain Sebastien "7ckingMad" Debs, to even make it to the top stages of Dota would have been considered a victory.
On the hunt for revenge after being knocked into the lower bracket earlier by OG, PSG.LGD was warmed up after thrashing Evil Geniuses earlier in the day to qualify for the grand finals. Still, the Chinese team struggled in Game 1, unable to deal with the Meteor Hammer pushes from 7ckingMad's Treant Protector in combination with stellar Earthshaker plays by OG's support Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka. Game 2 was a complete 180 for PSG.LGD, which outdrafted its opponents' strategy by giving star player Lu "Maybe" Yao a Kunkka -- whose X Marks the Spot shut down OG's global mobility abilities. OG's young mid laner was the target of many attacks, as Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen finished Game 2 with no kills and 12 deaths on Invoker, his best hero.
In Game 3, PSG.LGD once again rode to an easy victory off the back of its superior draft. LGD's ability to pressure the lanes was crucial to keeping Anathan "ana" Pham and Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen from getting off to a good start. The combination of Alchemist and Brewmaster were perfect counters to deal with OG's Phantom Lancer and Morphling. Game 4 was yet another brutal outdraft for PSG.LGD, giving its players confidence heading into what many thought would be the final match of TI8. PSG.LGD's captain Xu "fy" Linsen as Tusk was his team's saving grace, using his Snowball ability to protect his teammates from 7ckingMad's Berserkers Call. OG never surrendered, taking every inch PSG.LGD would allow, and slowly but surely worked its way back into the game for an incredible victory, forcing the first grand finals Game 5 since 2013.
Game 5 saw a contentious draft from both teams, with PSG.LGD ultimately getting the advantage once again. Maybe being given his signature Kunkka was a boon, as the star mid laner jumped out to a very fast start, winning his lane and wreaking havoc on the underfarmed heroes of OG. Choosing to play it safe was ultimately LGD's undoing as the players of OG hit their window of opportunity, perfectly rushing down the lanes, leaving dead heroes in their wake to claim the victory and the Aegis of Champions.
OG will reign as the best team in the world, The International 2018 champions for an entire year and will return home with $11,208,905. PSG.LGD will return home with $4,075,965.
-- Travis Elliott
OG 3, PSG.LGD 2
PSG.LGD 2, Evil Geniuses 0
The final day of the International opened with a 2-0 win by PSG.LGD in the lower bracket final over Evil Geniuses on Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
The series opened with two potent drafts based around early teamfighting that would then create space for one hero. Evil Geniuses chose Alchemist for carry Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan, while LGD secured Spectre for its carry Wang "Ame" Chunyu. PSG took the advantage early thanks to excellent play in the middle lane by carry player Lu "Somnus" Yao on Tiny. He did exceptionally well against SumaiL and denied his opponent's Alchemist plenty of early gold. Somnus kept up the tempo from his strong early-game while moving around the map to start fights by finding kills.
As a result, LGD's gameplan to roam around the map as a foursome, allowing Ame to join in the fight at an opportune time, worked wonders all game. By forcing Evil Geniuses to use its very limited control spells early on, Ame would be free to run around fights right clicking whoever he wanted. LGD was able to slowly wear down Evil Geniuses' defenses to take an early lead in the series.
Game 2 was an even quicker and more commanding win for LGD. Two seemingly odd carry picks, Luna for Ame and Kunkka for Somnus, came together with the rest of LGD to form an unstoppable midgame attack. With support duo Xu "fy" Linsen and Yap Jian "xNova" Wei on Dark Willow and Warlock respectively, LGD's teamfighting draft was arguably one of the strongest it has put together all tournament.
Evil Geniuses had some strong heroes, including a Spectre for carry Artour "Arteezy" Babaev, but the team could do nothing against all of LGD's burst damage. Fights were over in the blink of an eye thanks to how quickly LGD could do its magic damage, and Evil Geniuses never got much chance of rebuttal.
On top of all the deadly magical burst, Somnus' Kunkka was dealing tremendous physical damage to Evil Geniuses thanks to Tidebringer, with Ame's Luna bringing up the rear. Despite having a rough game, Ame was able to contribute to fights with Eclipse and offer huge building damage to LGD. Once LGD broke into the EG base, it was able to secure two full lanes of barracks in 30 seconds thanks to Luna's Bouncing Glaives. After 32 minutes of fighting, with all five of its heroes dead and a full-power LGD squad bearing down on its throne, Evil Geniuses called GG and conceded the series to LGD.
Evil Geniuses exits the International in third place with $2,700,000 in prize money. LGD will advance to the finals for a rematch against OG at 5 p.m. ET. The two teams met in the upper bracket finals on Thursday, but after an incredible late-game turnaround OG was able to secure the direct route into the finals.
-- Jack Ballenger