Two-time The International (TI) champions OG have missed out on a spot in the upcoming WePlay AniMajor after they lost to Team Liquid, 2-0, in the last match of Season 2 of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit's (DPC) European regional league on Thursday (20 May).
OG looked lost against Liquid, who outlasted them in a 43-minute game one then secured the series sweep with a surprise Broodmother pick to finish game two in just under 22 minutes.
With that loss, OG end the season with a 3-4 record, tied for fifth place in the league with Tundra Esports and Brame Esports. Not only have they been denied a spot in the Major, they will also have to defeat those two teams in tiebreaker matches in order to stay in the upper division of the league for the next circuit.
Missing out on yet another Major is surely a very disappointing outcome for the two-time TI champions, especially after Anathan "ana" Pham returned to the line-up in April.
Ana had a strong start to the season and was instrumental in the team's huge win over Team Secret in Week 4 of the season. However, losses to Alliance, Team Nigma, and Tundra Esports prior to the match against Liquid proved to be OG's undoing.
This marks the second time that the reigning TI champions failed to qualify for a Major in the 2021 DPC. Last season, OG failed to qualify for the ONE Esports Singapore Major after they the European regional league in fifth place.
Liquid were notably the ones to deny OG a Major spot that first time, as they edged out the two-time TI champions in an intense two-round tiebreaker at the end of the circuit's first season.
Can OG still make it to TI10?
Despite not making any of the Majors for this circuit, OG still have their eyes set on TI10 and raising a third-straight Aegis of Champions. However, they will have to take the long way to get there as they are no longer eligible for a direct invite to the tournament despite being the defending champions.
OG only have 42.5 DPC points after earning 50 from their fifth place finish in the European regional league last season, which was then reduced as per DPC rules after they released Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng in March to make way for ana's return.
Should OG win their tiebreaker matches against Tundra Esports and Brame Esports to manage another fifth place finish, they can increase their DPC point total to 92.5 — well short of the over 1,000 needed to become one of the 12 teams in the circuit to earn a direct invite to TI10.
The only option remaining for the two-time TI champions to defend their title is to win their region's qualifier, which is expected to take place in July. However, the competition there will still be far from easy.
The list of teams OG will face in the qualifier is expected to include the likes of Tundra Esports, Brame Esports, and Vikin.gg. Depending on how the WePlay AniMajor pans out, they may also end up facing Team Liquid again and Team Nigma, their opponents in the finals of TI9.
While the road to TI10 will be difficult, it will not be impossible. In their campaign for their first Aegis of Champions in TI8, OG had to go through both open qualifiers and the regional qualifiers just to earn a spot in the tournament. If OG have done it before, they can surely do it again.
TI10 will be held in Stockholm, Sweden in August, where the best teams in the DPC will battle for the right to claim the Aegis of Champions as well as the lion's share of the US$40 million prize pool.
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