2017 was an epic year for both professional Dota 2 players and fans alike. Not only did Valve’s premier MOBA set yet another prize pool record at The International 7, but the latter half introduced the Dota Pro Circuit, a year-round slate of tournaments handled by different organizers and backed by Valve themselves that aims to stabilize Dota 2’s competitive scene.
The Captains Draft and ESL One Genting Minors, as well as the Galaxy Battles Major, are three highly anticipated LAN events happening in January alone. Though you can expect the usual top Dota 2 players to capture headlines and make sure that their respective teams start off the year on a good note, there are a handful of newcomers who could upset the status quo.
Below are five relatively new Dota 2 players who we believe could make 2018 a whole lot more interesting.
Vladimir ‘RodjER’ Nikogosyan
Contrary to what most people believe, the 24-year-old Armenian support player for Natus Vincere isn’t new to the scene. He first played professionally back in 2014 with the relatively obscure Cleave Gaming team. He then bounced around from one unknown team to another for years. Eventually, he’d land on Team Empire prior to TI7, where he started to gain notoriety. Though, it wasn’t until he transferred to Natus Vincere during the post TI7 shuffle that he found his name in the conversation of the best supports from the CIS region.
Known for his wide hero pool and prowess on the micro-intensive hero Chen, RodjER is an integral part of Natus Vincere’s best season in years and will look to play an even bigger role as the black and yellow tries to gain back most of its lost luster this 2018.
Anucha ‘Jabz’ Jirawong
You know you’re on your way to becoming one of the best Dota 2 players when you’re on the same team as legendary players Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice‘ Pei Xiang and Chai ‘Mushi‘ Yee Fung yet you’re the one drafting for them.
Jabz first gained international notoriety when iceiceice picked him up to play mid for last year’s Team Faceless. Though the team has since disbanded, Jabz had made his mark. Even more so during the tail end of their run, as audiences saw just how much better suited Jabz was to the position 4 role.
After joining Mineski earlier this season, the 19-year-old has taken no time building on his performance from last season. He has helped Mineski place 2nd and 1st in their first two Pro Circuit tournaments as they play gatekeepers in Southeast Asia. Although Mineski have since mellowed down, they remain a legitimate threat, both in SEA and on the international stage, especially with Jabz now firmly back at the helm.
Under the tutelage of two legendary players, there’s no doubt that Jabz will only continue to improve and help take Mineski to the top.
Quinn ‘CC&C’ Callahan
When Peter ‘ppd‘ Dager defected from Evil Geniuses earlier this season, the biggest surprise from his newest team, composed mostly of veteran Dota 2 players, was the inclusion of CC&C.
A relative neophyte to the Dota 2 scene, CC&C’s appearance as one of the panelists during the group stages of The International 7 was surprising enough. The fact that he’d soon end up joining a team captained by the TI5 winner, ppd, was shocking to say the least. Though this isn’t exactly unprecedented; ppd has had experience helping guide a newbie in Syed Sumail ‘SumaiL‘ Hassan back in 2015 with Evil Geniuses.
So far, OpTic Gaming haven’t exactly had much success. However, with a ballsy guy manning their middle lane and the team slowly rounding into midseason form, #thegreenwall have nowhere to go but up next year.
Marcus ‘Ace’ Hoelgaard
As it turns out, all Puppey ever needed was just the right pieces in place that could make use of his often unconventional draft strategies. Ace, in particular, has been Puppey’s ace in the whole (no pun intended) since Team Secret announced their latest lineup.
Ace’s versatility and efficiency has been key to Team Secret’s dominance so far this season. Though critics were quick to dismiss them after starting the season off an absolute tear in the qualifiers only to falter in their first two Pro Circuit appearances, Team Secret have since proven everyone wrong.
Between Ace, Adrian ‘Fata‘ Trinks — whose move to the offlane has been nothing but seamless — and Yeik ‘MidOne‘ Nai Zheng, Puppey now has a three-headed monster at his disposal. Throw in Yazied ‘YapzOr‘ Jaradat and this might just be the year that Team Secret wins it all. And when that happens, we can look back to Puppey throwing a curve ball and picking up Ace, a longtime Dota 2 player who had been stuck playing mostly with Tier 2 teams for years.
Zhang ‘Paparazi’ Chengjun
This was a toss up between Paparazi and his teammate with Vici Gaming, Zeng ‘Ori‘ Jiaoyang. Either one would’ve made a fine choice. Both are flashy, talented and extremely skilled Dota 2 players. Regardless of their teams, both Dota 2 players are sure to go on to do great things. It’s just that them being teammates makes that eventuality more likely to happen soon.
We ultimately went with Paparazi, though. Why? It’s simple. Because he single-handedly carried IG.Vitality last year to an appearance at The International 7 in August and he seems only to have gotten better since.
There’s no doubt that the veterans have played a key role in ViCi Gaming’s success so far; Zhang ‘LaNm‘ Zhicheng remains a drafting genius while Ren ‘eLeVeN‘ Yangwei continues to solidify himself as a top-tier offlaner. But, make no mistake, it’s on the high MMR player Paparazi to take ViCi Gaming to newer heights this 2018.
Dota 2 Players on the Rise this 2018
We can never fully predict the trajectory of the careers of each of the players we just mentioned. Not only is Dota 2 such a complex game, but it undergoes changes nearly every month. Strategies very rarely remain the same and sometimes, the meta may favour a certain player’s typical playstyle less. However, all of the Dota 2 players we mentioned possess the skill and innate talent to succeed; they’re just waiting for their chance to shine on the biggest stage.
It’s only a matter of time before these Dota 2 players start stealing the spotlight from the more prominent pros.
Which new professional Dota 2 players do you think will make a huge impact on the scene this 2018? Do you agree with the five players we chose? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.