Anathan "ana" Pham, two-time The International (TI) champion with OG, returned to competitive play as a stand-in for Team Liquid in the ongoing Dota 2 Riyadh Masters 2022.
Former OG offlaner Sébastien "Ceb" Debs and Team Liquid captain Aydin "iNSaNiA" Sarkohi shared their thoughts on how it feels like to play with the enigmatic ana, praising his skill while highlighting his well-known communication issues.
iNSaNiA: Ana has a flexibility score of 100 and a communication score of 4
INSaNiA was given six categories to rate ana, which were communication, aggression, patience, flexibility, awareness, and improvisation.
Liquid's captain rightly gave ana high marks for his aggression, patience, flexibility, awareness, and improvisation — skills you would expect a two-time TI champion would have.
But when it comes to communication, iNSaNiA wasn't very generous with ana and scored him with a low rating of 4.
Ceb elaborated on ana's communication skills during his time on the panel, saying his former teammate is much quieter compared to other carry players.
"From a support perspective, you have carry players like [Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen], who is the kind of player to tell you what he needs, what he wants to see happen. With ana you're probably not going to get that. You're going to get cricket sounds," said Ceb.
But even though ana's less than stellar communication skills are well known, it's a fair trade when considering how good he is in other aspects of the game.
INSaNiA gave ana two ratings for ana's aggression based on his real life and Dota 2 personality.
"So I'm gonna rate this on two categories, real life and in-game. Real life: 4, but he's a very aggressive player. We'll tell him to hit creeps and he'd say he wants to mess them up. Put him at 94," said iNSaNiA.
During OG's run to a second-straight Aegis of Champions at TI9, ana had the best KDA score of 8.08 in the main event.
Ana doesn't sacrifice his farm for his aggression though, as he also had the fifth highest GPM in the tournament.
Being able to balance aggression with farming ability takes a lot of practice and patience, which is why iNSaNiA gave ana a patience score of 85.
When it came to ana's flexibility and creativity, iNSaNiA gave ana a score of 100 for both categories. Liquid's captain cited ana's ability to play support heroes as carries, most notably his feared carry Io in TI9 with whom he went 6-0 in the main event.
"Ana plays a lot of different heroes, plays a lot of different positions. ana has proven himself to play support heroes as cores," said iNSaNiA.
For his in-game awareness, ana got a score of 82. Despite being an aggressive player, ana only died an average of three times per game at TI9, a reasonable amount considering how risky his playstyle tends to be.
After leading OG to their second-straight TI championship in 2019, ana took a break from competitive play for over a year.
After his return to OG proved to be unsuccessful, ana announced his retirement from competitive play on June 2021.
Ana's stint as a stand-in for Team Liquid is his first formal competitive appearance since his retirement.
Team Liquid's last match of the Riyadh Masters 2022 group stage will be against Royal Never Give Up on Friday (22 July).
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.