Western European Dota 2 powerhouse OG announced on Sunday (30 July) that they have once again welcomed back two-time The International (TI) champion Sébastien "Ceb" Debs to their active roster for the upcoming TI 2023 regional qualifiers.
OG previously tapped Ceb to be a stand-in support player for DreamLeague Season 20 and the recently-concluded Riyadh Masters 2023 after Evgenii "Chu" Makarov was moved to the assistant coach role in June.
Prior to rejoining the main OG roster, Ceb has spent much of the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season competing with Old G in Division II of the Western European regional league.
— OG (@OGesports) July 30, 2023
Ceb's return to OG's active roster for the TI 2023 regional qualifiers is a last-ditch attempt by the team to salvage what has been a disappointing season so far.
Following Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf's departure during the offseason, OG signed former Virtus.pro offlaner Dmitry "DM" Dorokhin as his replacement and were poised to be one of the strongest teams in a veritable bloodbath in the Western European regional league.
However, OG had a rough start during the Winter Tour, only managing a fifth place finish in their regional league and missing out on the Lima Major after losing out in a chaotic, two-day tiebreaker.
That collapse prompted a role swap between Mikhail "Misha" Agatov and Chu, with Misha moving to the coach role while Chu took over as team captain.
The role swapped paid dividends when OG managed to qualify for the ESL One Berlin Major 2023 despite having a 1-4 record mid way through the Spring Tour regional league.
However, OG were forced to play in the Berlin Major with stand-ins after DM, Chu, and Misha all had their visas denied. Thanks to a valiant effort by stand-ins Ivan "MinD_ControL" Ivanov and Kartik "Kitrak" Rathi, OG exceeded expectations and finished in 5th-6th place.
But despite their resurgence during the Spring Tour regional league and the Berlin Major, OG once again struggled during the Summer Tour regional league.
The team notably played their first three matches without Tommy "Taiga" Le, who took a temporary break from pro play amid a battle with anxiety and depression. OG went 1-2 during Taiga's absence, losing to Tundra Esports and Team Liquid and winning against another struggling squad in Team Secret.
OG finished the Summer Tour regional league in fifth place with a 3-4 record, missing out on the Bali Major as a result.
Even after tapping Ceb as a stand-in, OG still struggled in DreamLeague Season 20 and Riyadh Masters, finishing in 13th-14th place in both events.
OG have their work cut out for them in the TI 2023 regional qualifier for Western Europe, even if two slots will be up for grabs. The team will have to compete against the likes of Quest Esports, Entity, Team Secret, and Nigma Galaxy for a slot in this year's iteration of Dota 2's world championship tournament. But with a two-time TI champion like Ceb back in the lineup, OG may just have what it takes to make it back to TI.
The TI 2023 regional qualifiers will be held from 17 to 31 August, with the competition being split into three five-day phases where two regions will compete in each phase.
The qualifiers for North America and China will kick things off from 17 to 21 August, South America and Eastern Europe will follow from 22 to 26 August, while Western Europe and Southeast Asia will close things out from 27 to 31 August.
TI 2023 will be held in Seattle's Climate Pledge Arena from 14 to 29 October and features a revamped format similar to last year's tournament, which was held in Singapore.
OG Dota 2 roster:
Artem "Yuragi" Golubiev
Bozhidar "bzm" Bogdanov
Dmitry "DM" Dorokhin
Sébastien "Ceb" Debs
Tommy "Taiga" Le
Mikhail "Misha" Agatov (coach)
Evgenii "Chu" Makarov (assistant coach)