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N0tail’s incredible journey to Dota 2 superstar and OG Seed coach

As OG announce they're starting a new team, we chart N0tail’s journey to becoming one of the best Dota 2 players in the world.

After back-to-back The International wins and becoming one of the highest-earning players in esports, Johan “Notail” Sundstein, 26, from Denmark, is widely recognised as one of the greatest Dota 2 players in history.   

Joining OG in 2015, N0tail has had a turbulent journey on the Dota 2 circuit, filled with friendship splits, dramatic departures, all the way to making their triumphant comeback.    

N0tail, along with his teammates, will now coach new team OG Seed to grow young players. How did he get to this point? Here’s the lowdown on N0tail’s journey up till now.    

Beginnings   

N0tail (who went by the name “BigDaddy”) started out as one of the youngest Heroes Of Newerth players ever, aged 15, and was put together in a professional team for Fnatic. While there, he was joined on the roster by Jascha “Nova” Markuse, Tal “Fly” Aizik, Henrik “FreshPro” Hansen and Kalle “Trixi” Saarinen – going onto win four consecutive DreamHack events.    

As the scene around Heroes Of Newerth dwindled in popularity, N0tail switched to Dota 2 and went onto form a Fnatic team with Nova, Fly, and Adrian “Era” Kryeziu in March 2012. After a rough start, they soon began achieving top positions at tournaments, resulting in an invite to compete at The International in Seattle where they placed 7-8th.   

Fnatic departure  

After a poor performance at The International in 2014, finishing 13-14th, N0tail and Fly decided to leave the organisation.   

Speaking about his departure at the time, N0tail said: “Today I’m leaving Fnatic, this has been my first and only organisation to play under, but all good things must come to an end. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me through the years, as long as you’re watching I will be playing.”  

Both N0tail and Fly joined Team Secret in 2014, only to leave soon afterwards the following year. N0tail went onto play for Cloud9 who had a disappointing run in The International 2015, placing 9-12th, resulting in them disbanding the team altogether.   

Formation of OG  


OG winning at TI 2019 (Picture: Valve, via Flickr)

In August 2015, N0tail reunited with Fly to form their own Dota team organisation (monkey) Business, alongside players David “MoonMeander” Tan, Andreas “Cr1t-” Franck Nielsen, and Amer “Miracle” Barqawi on the squad.   

This team was later rebranded in October 2015 as OG. The idea behind the organisation was increase transparency between brands and the players, with N0tail and Fly leading the charge when it comes to brand negotiations – striking up a partnership with Hitbox.tv.   

Seen as underdogs on the scene, OG slowly rised through the ranks and after beating Natus Vincere at ESL One Frankfurt 2016, won the tournament and secured an invite to The International 2016. Despite finishing first in their group, they eventually placed 9-12th overall after being eliminated by TnC Gaming.  

It was a pretty big upset in the Dota 2 scene, which led to MoonMeander, Cr1t- and Miracle- leaving the team. They were replaced by Jesse “Jerax” Vainikka, Anathan “ana” Pham, and Gustav “s4” Magnusson.   

OG’s rise  

With their new team, OG quickly ascended. They became the first team to ever defend a Major title in Dota 2 history after winning the Autumn Major in 2016. This was followed by a win at the Winter Major Grand Finals in Kiev in 2017.   

This was followed by a brief downward spell through the rest of the year, but they went onto dominate the competitive scene between T15 and TI7. In this time, they won four of the seven Dota Major Championships. They also still hold multiple world records as the only team to win multiple Dota Major Championship titles, alongside consecutive Major victories and defending a Major title as champions.   

Dramatic split with Fly  

Despite looking like favourites for The International 2018, OG’s performances took a nosedive. Ana left the team and was replaced by Ukrainian player Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok. With a new roster, their early 2018 performances at ESL One Katowice and The Bucharest Major proved disappointing – having failed to move out of the group stages.  

After reflecting on their poor results, Resolut1on was switched out with coach Sebastien “7ckngMad” Debs (now known as “Ceb”) acting as a standin. A number of disappointing performances followed at ESL One Birmingham and EPICENTER XL, which led to a dramatic exit from N0tail’s best friend.  

Fly and s4 both announced their shock departure from OG on 28 May 2018, leaving to join Evil Geniuses. As an original co-founder of the company, and a close friend to N0tail, the departure of Fly came as a huge shock.

In his announcement post, Fly wrote: “It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my departure from OG. These last few years together have been some of the best in my life, getting to know and to work with some incredible people.  

“Winning 4 Valve majors together and fighting through many tounaments, these are all memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I can not thank everyone enough – those who have supported me and OG on this journey, and I wish them nothing but success.” 

It prompted a huge shake-up in the roster which forced them to pull out the China Dota 2 Supermajor. In June, OG announced a new roster with Ana returning and new addition Topias Mikka “Topson” Taavitsainen. N0tail moved to hard support position while 7ckngMad would play offlane.  

Incredible TI comeback 

With OG not eligibile to be invited to The International 2018 due to Resolut1on’s departure earlier in the year, the team had to endure the daunting uphill battle of the open qualifiers.  

OG however managed to rise through and secure a spot in the Regional Qualifiers. Showing a significant turnaround, OG managed to beat new team Wind and Rain to become the only European Qualifier team at TI 2018.  

At the tournament, OG managed to capitalize on their underdog status. After securing a place in the Upper Bracket, VGJ. Storm chose OG as their opponent in what they perceived would be an easy win. OG managed to beat them in two straight games. They would then face their old teammates Fly and s4 in Evil Geniuses, with OG beating them 2-1. The handshake between N0tail and Fly following the match became a big talking point after the latter’s departure from the team.  

After beating favourites PSG.LGD, OG secured a spot in the grand final. The final would be a rematch with PSG.LGD which went to a full five games, only for OG to pull through in the last game to secure victory and win TI 2018. It was a historic comeback for the team from the Open Qualifiers and became a defining moment in Dota 2’s competitive scene.  

In 2019, OG returned to TI and managed to win for a second time, becoming the first team in Dota 2 to be back-to-back champions. They also took home the biggest prize in esports history with $15,603,133 (£12.1 million).  

OG Seed 

In November 2019, it was announced OG would be shifting focus to grow new team OG Seed. It’s a shift into coaching territory for N0tail and the OG roster, who are dedicating attention to building their new squad. They also confirmed they wouldn’t be taking part in DreamLeague Season 13: The Leipzig Major in order to help OG Seed qualify in the European Open Qualifiers.  

Will the experiment pay off though? Whatever the outcome, it’s another bold move for the biggest and arguably the best Dota 2 team in the world.  

Adam Starkey

Adam Starkey

Written by GINX redaction

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