Is Tal “Fly” Aizik the unsung hero of The International 2018?
The International 2018 was without a doubt the greatest edition of this prestigious event of the first 8. The first International, the third and the fifth had their great moments, but none of them can compare to the eighth. And that’s because for the first time ever, a dark horse managed to overcome every single obstacle and actually win.
Before the tournament began, OG was looked upon as the least likely team to claim the Aegis of Champions. Eighteen teams took part in this competition and OG was ranked 18th. The reason is simple: the team had lost its carry, captain and offlaner just several months before. Furthermore, it had had a very poor season, winning just one Minor out of more than 20 Dota Pro Circuit events in the 2017-2018 competitive season. So naturally, people saw OG as being a long shot at best.
But, in spite of the esports odds and the slow start, OG, a team that had come from the Open Qualifiers, went to The International 2018 and actually won. Along the way, it earned a lot of fans and respect and was advertised as a squad that had something to prove. N0tail was presented as the hero fighting against the world and his former friend and teammate, Fly. Of course, the narrative needed a villain, and since Fly had seemingly betrayed him and OG, he was perfect for the role. But is that a fair representation of what actually happened?
Fly had won 4 Majors with OG, leading it to hights previously unimaginable for a newly formed Dota 2 team. Then, after roughly two and a half years including a disastrous 2017-2018 season, Fly decided to leave and join Evil Geniuses, taking s4 with him. And what he had to do in that moment is far from easy. He was perfectly aware of the fact that if nothing changed, OG would probably not even qualify for The International 2018 and would become another Na’Vi, a fallen victim in the graveyard of past Dota 2 giants.
Another thing that Fly had to risk was his close friendship with N0tail. The two of them had been very close for many years and Fly had to make the toughest choice of his career in order to avoid a complete disaster. And as a result, 5 players who would have otherwise not even taken part in The International 2018 ended up being 1st and 3rd at the most important Dota 2 tournament of the year.
And it’s not just them. EG had been going the same way as OG prior to bringing in Fly and s4. This means that Fly, with his apparently selfish decision to leave OG, actually turned around the fate of two ruined teams. One became a TI champion and the other a Lower Bracket finalist. Two great stories and arguably the greatest TI in the history of Dota were the result of one man’s courage to make the right choice and admit that something radical had to be done and that a renaissance was absolutely necessary.