2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit: Dota Players Primed for a Breakout Season

Every year, we see a number of dota players enjoy a breakout season.

Some of them can come from virtually nowhere. Case in point, Maroun ‘GH‘ Merhej for Team Liquid and Topias ‘Topson‘ Taavitsainen for OG, who both were instrumental in the championship runs of their respective squads. Meanwhile, others were already playing for lesser-known squads and were just waiting for their shot, like Neta ‘33‘ Shapira and Vladimir ‘RodjER‘ Nikogosyan were prior to their breakout seasons last year.

Having said that, the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit should prove to be no exception.

Whether you’re a huge fan of their respective teams or not, it’s best to keep a close eye on these dota players as the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit approaches.

Kim ‘Gabbi‘ Villafuerte — TNC Predator

Dota Players

Although he’s won his fair share of regional tournaments, Gabbi’s career has not taken off like most people expected when he blew up thanks to his Puck play in 2016. (Celcom)

Back in 2016, the then 18-year-old Gabbi, who was still relatively new to the competitive scene, sent the entire world on a frenzy while playing for Execration at the MPGL Southeast Asian Championship when he, playing the hero Puck, made a series of twitch-fast plays that garnered praise from established pros like TI1 champion, Danil ‘Dendi’ Ishutin.

Since then, however, Gabbi has not achieved the success most would have expected from him after that single play.

 

Fast forward two years after that famed play, Gabbi now finds himself playing for TNC Predator for the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit.

So far, all signs have pointed to Gabbi not only has not lost his touch, but also has significantly improved and is now playing a more hard carry oriented role instead of the spacemaker.

While Gabbi has a lot to live up to after replacing Marc Polo Luis ‘Raven‘ Fausto on TNC Predator’s roster, there’s very little doubt that he’ll be able to play on par or even surpass his predecessor and take the team to new heights.

Micke ‘miCKe‘ Nguyen – Alliance

Dota Players

A seasoned pro at a young age of 19, miCKe is ready to take Dota 2 by storm this season. (Alliance)

Most 19-year-olds don’t really have a lot of experience competing at the highest level as a professional esports player. But, then again, miCKe probably isn’t like most 19-year-olds.

One of the last to switch over from Heroes of Newerth, the Swedish prodigy has competed as a pro for years already. He even won the HoN Tour World Finals (the equivalent of TI in Heroes of Newerth) back in 2017 before fully committing to playing Dota 2 full time.

Now, miCKe finds himself as one of the key pieces of the legendary Dota 2 organization, Alliance. And while he hasn’t played Dota 2 as a pro full-time for long, he’s already shown himself quite capable of leading the team to victory.

Having helped Alliance book their first spot at a Major since TI6 two years ago (via the stacked European Qualifiers no less), miCKe is easily one of the most exciting dota players that everyone should watch out for this season.

Deng ‘Dstones‘ Lei — Team Aster

Dota Players

A neophyte in a team full of veterans and known names, Dstones will have a lot to live up to in Team Aster. (Wykrhm Reddy)

Invoker is one of the most difficult heroes to play and learn in Dota 2. Although most top-tier mids can play the hero quite decently, only a few dota players can really call the hero their own. The shortlist of proven winners on the hero include the likes of Team Liquid’s Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi, Team Secret’s Yeik ‘MidOne‘ Nai Zheng and OG’s Topias ‘Topson‘ Taavitsainen.

By the end of this season, we’ll probably have to add Deng ‘Dstones‘ Lei to that list of players.

Playing mid for Team Aster isn’t easy. It’s a team with heightened expectations. It is, after all, basically Team DK — the legendary organization known for fielding some of the most talented lineups China had to offer. But, so far, Dstones has proven capable of carrying the weight of the oft-unreasonable expectations placed upon him and his team.

While Dstones is currently still on trial for Team Aster, don’t expect his status on the team to stay that way for long. Not when he already proved instrumental in helping Team Aster secure a spot for the Kuala Lumpur Major.

Ravindu ‘Ritsu‘ Kodippili — paiN X

Dota Players

One of the most polarizing dota players in the scene, Ritsu will finally get a chance to prove his worth as a player this season. (ESL)

Hot take alert.

Ritsu is not the most well-liked Dota 2 player. In fact, of all dota players, he’s arguably the least liked, and his past actions warrant such hate. However, from a pure skill standpoint, Ritsu’s not half-bad — he’s really, really good.

A very methodical and safe hard carry that knows how to pick his farming spots and avoid unnecessary team fights, Ritsu is the perfect complement to Quinn ‘CCnC‘ Callahan and his more risky approach to the game. And though the argument exists that he qualified for a Major via the relatively weak South American Qualifiers, the fact remains that he helped his team qualify.

While the Dota 2 community probably will never forget what Ritsu did in the past, you don’t necessarily have to like the guy to recognize that he’s got a lot of potential.

Ludwig ‘zai‘ Wåhlberg — Team Secret

Dota Players

While he wasn’t able to have as much success in the offlane with OpTic Gaming last season, zai figures to have a much better time this year with Team Secret. (Valve)

Somehow, it feels wrong to label zai as one of the breakout dota players for next season. But, at the same time, it also feels right as well.

Considered as one of the most skilled Dota 2 players in the world, zai is mostly known for his flashy plays from the position 4. But, once upon a time, he tried his hands on playing in the offlane for Team Secret and he absolutely crushed it.

Playing for a Team Secret squad that included the likes of Artour ‘Arteezy‘ Babaev and Gustav ‘s4‘ Magnusson back in 2015, zai was instrumental for that squad’s success in the leadup to TI5. And, had it not been for some serious internal conflict, zai would’ve probably already have won a TI by now. Alas, that did not happen, and three years later, zai is now back to his old team and a position where he was once considered as one of the best in the world.

Already one of the most successful dota players in the world, zai will likely reach even higher heights as Team Secret’s offlaner this season.

Anucha ‘Jabz‘ Jirawong — Fnatic

Dota Players

One of the more versatile players in the scene, Jabz will now look to make as much impact in a less farm-intensive role as the new captain of Fnatic. (Mineski)

For all of the teams that Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice’ Pei Xiang has played for since leaving China post-TI6, the one remaining constant is Jabz, who also has had a lot of relative success while playing different roles during his time playing with iceiceice. 

This season, Jabz finds himself thrust into another role as Fnatic’s team captain and hard support.

Will Jabz sink or will he swim? Will he no longer be as impactful as he once was as a position 4 or roaming support? We really can’t say for sure just yet considering the small sample size so far. But, considering how much a veteran like iceiceice seems to trust his judgement and how successful he has been during his relatively short career, there’s very little reason to suggest that Jabz will not succeed in his new role.

Muhammad ‘inYourdreaM‘ Rizky

 

Playing in a server known for unstable players and server connections alike isn’t good for your MMR. This is why most dota players don’t like climbing in the SEA servers. But, for inYourdreaM, navigating his way through the toxic waters of the SEA servers isn’t just normal for him, he lives, breathes, and wallows in it.

The first Dota 2 player to reach 9000 MMR by exclusively playing on the SEA servers, inYourdreaM is a highly mechanically skilled player who’s just waiting for a chance to explode into the scene, and had it not for a few unfortunate players during the TI8 qualifiers, he probably would’ve had a chance to show what he’s made of in the brightest stage of them all at TI8 last August.

inYourdreaM still has a chance, though. Tigers remain a formidable team, despite failing to qualify for the Kuala Lumpur Major.

Give or take a couple of months and better team chemistry, Tigers will be neck-and-neck with SEA stalwarts like TNC Predator, Fnatic, and Mineski, and you can bet that it’ll be inYourdreaM leading Tigers’ charge.

Michał ‘Nisha’ Jankowski — Team Secret

Dota Players

Seemingly surrounded by a team built to enable him, Nisha will be one of the most exciting dota players to watch this season. (BeyondTheSummit)

There are pub stars, and then there’s Nisha.

A player who most people would probably know as the person behind the DEBIL tag that managed to achieve 9K MMR in roughly around 800 matches back in 2017 — the said account, though now inactive, still exists and is ranked 18, with an absurd 67.78% win rate across 810 matches — Nisha is one heck of a talent.

Even when playing amongst friends in the all-Polish Team Kinguin roster, Nisha was clearly the standout player of the team.

The 17-year-old pub star was often the reason why Team Kinguin were competitive in the European Qualifiers for most of last season and ended up beating teams that they have no business even playing against once they did qualify for a LAN.

Having had very little relative success to show for his tremendous skill, Nisha’s fortunes are about to change now that he’s playing for a TI-winning captain like Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov in a time like Team Secret.

Which of these dota players do you think will break out during the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit? Who else do you believe should be a part of our list? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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