Two-time The International (TI) champions OG announced on Sunday (11 April) that their legendary carry player, Anathan "ana" Pham, has returned to the team's active roster ahead of the start of the second season of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC).
This will now be ana's fourth stint with the team. Ana first joined OG in August 2016 then parted ways with the team and took a break from competitive play a year later after a Top 8 finish at TI7. Ana then rejoined OG in June 2018 to help the team qualify for TI8 and go on their legendary run to win their first Aegis of Champions, after which he took another break from competitive play and left the team in November.
Ana rejoined OG for the second time in March 2019 for TI9, where he helped the team make history by becoming the first-ever back-to-back TI champions at TI9. Ana then announced he was taking another break from competitive play in January last year and planned his return after the 2019-2020 DPC.
Ana's third returns to OG comes in yet another time of need for the team. They struggled through the first season of the 2021 DPC, only managing to finish in 5th place at the European regional league's upper division and missing out on the ONE Esports Singapore Major. OG notably parted ways with Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng shortly after, with his departure leaving the carry role for the team open for ana's eventual return.
Speculation about ana's return started after OG teased a mystery fifth member in their recent video announcing the tie-up with BMW.
"It has been a challenging couple of months for the OG Dota 2 roster. Competitive synergy is something unique and incredibly complex. And despite teaming up with some of the best talent in the scene after months of trying our hardest, it felt like it never fully clicked," OG said in a statement.
"When you are unsure what to do and feel like you’ve lost yourself along the way, the healthiest response is to turn to the ones you love. The boys feel great comfort and confidence in reuniting once more to face these challenging times and start growing back into how they want to play the game."
Ana is famously known for his unique take on the carry role that both synergises and embodies OG's signature high-octane, aggressive playstyle that won them back-to-back TI championships. With his return to the team, fans are expecting a return to form for OG as they continue their campaign for their third Aegis of Champions.
“So what can I say? Playing with ana has always been special for me. It brings back so many memories. So many lanes won, so many big fights, so many fun moments. It’s great to have him back and I look forward to seeing what we can do together," said OG captain and co-owner Johan "N0tail" Sundstein.
“Ana is a beast, we all know that. We love playing with him, and we love having him around again. We are really going to try to enjoy this time together and cherish this experience. At the end of the day it is all about playing high level Dota, with great people and enjoying how great it feels. Ana, welcome back!” added OG offlaner and co-owner Sébastien “Ceb” Debs.
Ana will make his debut with OG for this year's DPC on 13 April against Brame in the opening day of Season 2 of the European regional league's upper division.
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