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OG are the first team since Na’Vi in 2012 to defend their TI title. The International 2018 champions advanced yesterday, August 24, in the grand finals of TI9. We got the chance to talk to Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen earlier in the tournament and we were curious to hear from him how OG prepared for TI9, how is the The International experience different for him now, when he isn’t the rookie anymore, but rather the player to watch and who impressed him the most though the event.


Hello Topson and congrats on the group stage run. That being said, OG’s nearly perfect run in the groups is also a reason of concern for the fans, because you know what history teaches us: the teams that do super well in the groups at TI, are struggling in the Main Event. Is OG the team that will change this belief as well? 

Maybe it didn’t look like  this for everyone, but we were preparing for this for a long time. We prepared for TI pretty much for the whole season. To be honest, I didn’t expect us to do so well in the groups, so I’m really happy about our performance so far and I’m very excited for the Main Event. It’s been rough at times, we had motivation issues and I won’t lie, it’s been hard.  We didn’t do well in tournaments, but as we got closer to the TI, the motivation grew, the hype came back and yeah, now we are here. 

Could you tell us why we didn’t see as many Monkey King games from you? I mean you did play it, but not as much as people would expect from you.

Monkey hasn’t been as strong lately, he’s kind of fallen off the meta, but maybe we will see it more in the next games, who knows. 

What do you think about this support Invoker that Team Secret introduced to us in the groups? 

It’s very good to have at your disposal heroes that can be played in different roles. It’s a versatile thing all teams would like to have. If you have a team that can play Invoker either mid of support, it makes you draft a bit more open. You can pick it early and decide what you are going to do with it after you see some picks from the opposite team. If it’s a bad  Invoker game fro your mid, you can use its as a support. The teams who can play the heroes in multiple roles have a drafting advantage. 

Speaking about the drafting advantage, I have to ask you about the Io carry. We heard that the team has never practiced it before TI9, are the rumors true?

Yeah, we never played it as a team before, but Ana owns the pubs with it so, when he asked for it, we said why not?

I learnt only a few days ago that you brought someone new to the OG camp. I’m talking about Mia Stellberg, a psychologist with an impressive CV in traditional sports and other esports games as well. Astralis, SK Gaming, ENCE, to name a few. How is she helping you guys?

It’s always nice to have someone to help you with your mental health and she is doing a fantastic job for us. It’s been really, really nice and it’s a great bonus to have her with us. 

TI8 was your absolute debut, your very first LAN, nobody knew much about you a year ago, but everything is different now. I’m pretty sure every team studied your game, your hero pool, your rotations, your map movement  and all. How do you feel playing from this position where everyone is trying to target you, to counter you now?

I like it when it’s like that. If people spend time to prepare for you directly, wen they target you directly, it only means that what you do is good. So, I like it.

Who impressed you the most this tournament? 

I kind of expected the top four in the groups to be this way. I saw it coming, so I wasn’t surprised to see LGD, Secret, VG, VP in the top four. As for individual player performance, Ana impressed me the most, really. 

You won your group, but instead of choosing your first opponent for the Main Event, you did a coin flip. Why did you do that?

We believe that choosing somebody can be a disadvantage in a way. After you made the pick you either start thinking that you maybe didn’t choose the right team for the first series on the stage, or you might go too comfortable in that match, thinking that you picked the “weaker” team. If you want to win a tournament, you have to be ready and confident that you can defeat any team that’s in front of you. So, that’s why the coin flip. 

You are the second player from OG to launch his own clothing line. JerAx has had his shop for a while now, yours just opened a few weeks back. For now you have only hats available, but should your fans expect some t-shirts, hoodies or other products coming? For instance, I like the Monkey King t-shirt you were wearing in the Against the Odds documentary. Will you bring it to the shop?

We will see. I have to wait and see if people are really interested in something like this. It depends a lot on what kind of feedback I get.

Alright, it’s time to wrap up our interview here. Thanks for stopping by to talk to us, best of luck in the main event and if you have any shout-outs, please do.

A big shout-out to our fans and to our sponsors, Red Bull and SteelSeries, and of course shout-out to my family and to my brother who is watching and has been so supportive all the time. 

More content from TI9:

Bulba: “Nisha and Zai are two of the best players of the year”
: “Second place in the group doesn’t mean we will also do well in the main event”
Stinger: “The hardest match-up was with”
Nikobaby: “I set this goal for myself four years ago”
9pasha: “I think we should have approached this tournament like it’s another Major, not TI”
Kaka: “Infamous is a team with huge potential”
Armel: “We only hope that the incident is in the past already for everyone”
CCnC: “OG are a super fun team to play with”
: “We are hungry for success […] after all, we have 0% playoffs win rate”
rOtk:“Playing at TI is a mind opening experience”
Mag: “We are no strangers to the lower bracket”
Maybe: “Playing against is fun”
w33: “Positions don’t exist anymore, they’re just heroes now”
RNG: “Before we played, we were expecting top 6 or top 8”
TI9 Media Day Vlog

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