Two-time The International (TI) champions OG kicked off their campaign in the second season of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) in style as they utterly dominated Brame Esports in their first match at the upper division of the European regional league.
Anathan "ana" Pham, who rejoined OG's lineup on Sunday (11 April), looked every bit like the legendary carry player that helped his team to back-to-back TI championships despite being almost two years removed from his last professional match in the grand finals of TI9 in August 2019.
Ana, who now plays under the tag "humblegod," even channelled some of the magic from OG's dominant TI9 run in game two of the series. Despite not having won the game yet, ana — who was on Phantom Lancer, one of his signature heroes — led his team in diving into Brame's fountain and killing them there in five separate attempts across 14 minutes to eventually secure the series sweep.
The clip above shows the fourth time that ana and OG attempted to fountain dive against Brame, as ana used the illusions created by his hero to tank the attacks from the opponents' fountain while picking them off in what was supposed to be a safe haven.
OG would overstay their welcome multiple times and eventually get taken down as Brame refused to call GG just yet despite being subject to humiliating acts you normally only see in pub games.
Ana notably kicked off the fountain-diving shenanigans for his team just 25 minutes into the game and with Brame still having all of their tier two towers up.
Even a Divine Rapier pickup on the side of Brame wasn't enough to dissuade OG from diving into their fountain. After winning one last team fight and fountain diving Brame for the fifth time, OG was finally able to force the GG call from their opponents at the 39-minute mark.
Ana finished his second game back from his almost two-year break from competitive play with 18 kills and six assists against just three deaths, all of which occurred when he overstayed his welcome in the enemy fountain.
In the post-match interview on the DPC's official European regional league stream, OG offlaner Sébastien "Ceb" Debs explained that while his team fountain dives even if the game hasn't been won yet, they do it not out of disrespect but because of "Dota reasons."
“I know how it looks. Of course sometimes it’s not efficient but at the same time it’s kind of like making a statement in the game too. I don’t think it’s totally bad Dota-wise, because we also do it for Dota reasons,” said Ceb.
“Of course, sometimes we get carried away, but the reason why we do it is not like us saying, “Oh let’s taunt them.” We actually respect our opponents a lot, we respect every opponent we play against. So we first do it for Dota reasons.”
Regardless of their reasons, OG's fountain farming certainly hearkened back to better days for the squad, specifically when ana led them in an infamous fountain-farming spree against Newbee in their playoff match at TI9.
While this win may have come against one of the weaker teams in the European regional league's upper division, as Brame notably started the first season of the 2021 DPC in the lower division, it should still be a massive morale boost for an OG squad looking to bounce back from a shaky start to the circuit.
OG struggled through the first season of this year's DPC, only managing to finish in 5th place in their league and missing out on the ONE Esports Singapore Major. That prompted the team to part ways with Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng shortly after, with his departure leaving the carry role open for ana's eventual return.
Ceb described ana rejoining OG after their struggles in the previous season as "a blessing."
"It’s like meeting [again after] you’ve missed somebody a lot on a human level but also in Dota. It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card. You could really enjoy yourself while playing again. It’s really like being reborn, honestly," said Ceb.
While ana's long-awaited return may be just what OG needs to get their campaign for a third-straight TI championship back on track, they still have a long road ahead of them.
The team still has to earn at least a Top 4 finish in the league to secure a spot in the next Major in June. If they get there and have a deep run — if not outright win it — then they can secure themselves a direct invite to TI10, where their chance at a third Aegis of Champions await.
The next step in that journey will be on 20 April, OG's second match of the league against Alliance, last season's second-placed team. It's still far too early to tell whether or not OG can make Dota history once more, but the team is certainly looking more confident that they can pull it off with ana back in the fold.
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