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OG’s Fly and n0tail look back at their Dota 2 career in Esports Unfold

Johan ‘n0tail’ Sundstein and Tal ‘Fly’ Aizik. Name a more iconic duo – we’ll wait. The effervescent duo have now racked up a record breaking 1,345 professional Dota 2 games together, boasting an impressive 62.33 percent win rate.

The two have both been through the highs and the lows, from their time on Fnatic through to The International 5 without each other, before forming Monkey Business which would later go on to become the powerhouse that is OG.

In our latest episode of Esports Unfold, we spoke to n0tail and Fly about how it all began and their journey together, through from Heroes of Newerth to becoming four-time Valve Major champions. Hit play above for the full exclusive video and scroll down for just some of the highlights.

“The way me and Tal, I guess, met was back in Heroes of Newerth in a public game,” explains n0tail. “He had a current teammate, he was playing with NoVa. Tal initially didn't want to play with me…” jests Johan before Tal snaps back, “Wait! That's not true! It was the other way around.”

“I mean I only saw some pictures of him, and then I saw him in person and he was completely different. He was lying to me all along, but it was OK besides that,” Fly smirks, as n0tail laughs back, “I catfish-ed you!”

Regardless, the two began to play together and would eventually become part of Fnatic’s Heroes of Newerth team. When the mass exodus from HoN began, both n0tail and Fly transferred over with the Fnatic brand to dip their toes into the world of Dota 2.

“We kind of got thrown into what was the beginning of esports, this movement, and we got thrown in at the same time,” remembers n0tail. “I don’t know how much, at least I realised at the time, that this was actually a thing. We were playing almost every day – either practising or pubbing so we ended up talking all the time,” elaborates Fly.

To this day, not much has changed either. To play 1,345 professional matches in any esport together, two players must obviously be unified and share an overwhelming passion for the game.

“We're still bonding over the game I would say. Our relationship is still very dependent on Dota and stuff. This is the thing we’ve always had in common,” expands n0tail.

“You know, he’s like a brother to me – that’s kind of where he’s at,” Fly says. “It’s not normal to play with the same person for seven or eight years.”

The professional scene quickly developed from when the two first sat down with a mouse and keyboard. At the time, it was nothing more than passion and wanting to be recognised as the world’s best at a video game. Then, when Dota 2 came around, both players as individuals, and as a team, decided it was the game to hop onto. “In the beginning, it was pretty hard, at least for me,” says Aizik before admitting he saw the light after “100-150 games.”

The inception of Monkey Business came after The International 5. Fly had competed with compLexity and n0tail with Cloud9 – but it didn’t feel quite right.

“At that point in time I was almost done with the game and the competitiveness,” n0tail explains. He concedes, however, that talking to Fly made him come back around: “Talking to Tal made me see the light and what we could do if we did it ourselves with our own team... We found the recipe.”

“We wanted people to feel comfortable and to be able to share what they want to say, whilst working towards common goals,” Fly comments on the foundations of OG. It’s an opinion shared by OG’s omnipresent manager Evany Chang. She explains, “Tal and Johan are the core and foundation. Without the two together, it’s just not the same”. It’s evident that the two players compliment each other fantastically, with Evany claiming Tal’s the ‘pillar’ whilst Johan’s the ‘heart’ of the team.

Being an OG fan can be quite the ride at times, with the team having higher highs and lower lows than most. The team have never been considered rash when it comes to roster shaking decisions, however, and the resolve between the core is evident. “Certain losses can break teams, especially when it comes to The International,” Fly says.

“These types of losses can break teams completely. All you can do is pick yourself back up and find new motivation for the new season.”

For OG, it’s an all too familiar story. With dominant performances in all of the Valve-run Majors, The International has continued to elude the Green Army. “It’s just another tournament. You’ve won against the exact same teams two months ago,” Fly says whilst musing about Dota’s flagship tournament. “It’s kind of sad in a way, but it is how it is,” he adds.

The two team-mates have been together through the good and bad. They’ve rebounded from agonising defeat to snatch the most unlikely of victories. Be it snatching the Kiev Major from under the noses of or the unlikeliest of runs through the lower bracket Frankfurt, OG have always defied the odds.

A lot of that can be attributed to the duos positivity and work ethic. “Be good to others. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Work hard. Enjoy the challenges in life and accept the failures along the way. They’re there and you can’t run away from them. Just try your best,” ends Johan in the most motivational of manners.

“Always do your best and remember to get back up, no matter where you are in life. I think that’s the real message behind everything,” adds Fly.

To watch the full episodes click here.