‘Repeat your best’: Ari on OG’s strong Dota 2 mentality, steady improvement, and Greggs

Unsurprisingly, Ari was showered with love from his home crowd, an experience he described as ‘weird,’ ‘strange,’ but, ultimately, ‘fun.’ The player also expressed his delight at the relief from jet lag and long travel times. However, these benefits didn’t overshadow the intensity of the game. As Ari put it, “Once you’re in the game, it’s just the same thing. You’re just in the game… You don’t really think about winning. You don’t really think about the stakes. You just think about the game in front of you.” Debates about the home-crowd buff aside, it’s clear that despite missing their chance to take the trophy, OG and Ari have gained valuable experience. 

OG fans cheer on their team at the Dota 2 ESL One Birmingham tournament
Fans cheer on Ari and his team in Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena. Photo by Adam Lakomy via ESL

ESL One Birmingham’s opening stage saw OG claim the top spot in Group B through consistency, winning one game against Xtreme Gaming and drawing with their other opponents. The team suffered no series losses until they faced BetBoom in the upper bracket semifinals, and they bounced straight back in the lower bracket quarters by dominating G2.iG. 

“If you do well in a tournament, especially a major one like ESL Birmingham, it gives you a baseline for going forward. You can think, okay, we did well here. Why did we do well here? What can we repeat? That gives you the groundwork for going forward to future tournaments.” Ari was optimistic about the challenges to come: “In the end, it’s the system that makes you good–the structure that you have in your team. If we have built your team well for this tournament, then there’s no reason why we can’t bring that to future tournaments as well.” 

OG didn’t snatch the ESL One Birmingham title for their efforts, but their performance still warrants recognition. In their lower bracket semifinal best-of-three with the Falcons, the team claimed a win in game two, bitterly fighting to survive in the tournament while exchanging taunts and jibes, displaying cohesive communication and a healthy team dynamic all the way until they ultimately fell short. 

OG has consistently worked towards this dynamic, according to Ari. “Some teams just take longer to click than others. We’ve had a slightly rough couple of months,” he admits. “But, I think now it’s coming together. We’ve improved our structure over time to make things easier to learn and connect better as a team. We’re in good shape.”

Ari’s confidence in OG is further boosted by his respect for his team captain, Ceb. With two wins at The International and countless other tier-one trophies, Ceb’s 13 years in Dota 2 are a clear asset. “He wants to lead us. He’s very good at bringing us back to earth and focusing on the game,” Ari explains, painting Ceb as an almost parental figure. 

OG Dota 2 Ceb photo
Brimming with wisdom, Ceb’s Dota knowledge is not to be scoffed at. Image via Ceb on Instagram

While Ceb is the leading light for the team, Ari did enjoy filling the role of guide while OG was in the UK. However, his attempts at introducing them to the UK’s beloved pastry giant, Greggs, were foiled by his manager’s poor judgment. “They didn’t seem impressed,” he admits with shame. “My manager gave them one of the bean and cheese melt pastries, and I think that’s a horrible thing to do. That is the last option you should choose, and they really hated it.” As many Brits would agree, Ari proclaimed the steak bake as the ultimate Greggs snack, lamenting that his manager didn’t opt for one of the higher-tier options. 

ESL One Birmingham will conclude with BetBoom facing Falcons in a dominant position after a dominant tournament run. Teams will now continue the road to Riyadh and the Esports World Cup, accumulating points to secure their place in competing for their share of the cumulative $60,000,000 prize pool—with Ari and co. looking to secure their spot as well.

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