The First to a Thousand Wins: The Legend of KuroKy

Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi’s list of achievements in Dota 2 dwarfs that of most professional Dota 2 players. He has accomplished more alone than other teams combined. His winnings speak for himself; he has already amassed more than $3.5 million in earnings, good for 1st place among all professional esports players across the world. He’s also one of only 34 other players to have ever hoisted the Aegis of Champions and won The International. Not to mention he’s also one of the few players to have ever competed at every The International. This is a feat matched only by two other players: his former teammate Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov and Chinese stalwart Leong ‘ddc‘ Fat-meng.

While all of these achievements makes KuroKy quite the special player indeed, one record propels him above the rest: being the first professional Dota 2 player to ever win 1,000 games throughout his career.

From Humble Beginnings

KuroKy spent much of his early childhood playing video games. He attributed this due to a disability that limited the use of his legs. Later on, when he was 10, his family bought a computer and his love for video games only grew. He eventually found out about WarCraft 3 a few years later, which paved the way to his humble beginnings with Defense of the Ancients: All Stars, the predecessor of Dota 2 and the perfect outlet for KuroKy and his drive to compete.

It didn’t take long for KuroKy to start joining German teams. However, none of them really gained any traction. In various interviews throughout the years, the 25-year-old professional Dota 2 player have tried to give his insight regarding the problems with his home country. He has often cited the main problem that players do not take the game as seriously as they should. Because of the said problems, KuroKy looked elsewhere. He would go on to join mousesports in 2008, an international Dota 2 with members such as the played-turned-caster Kim ‘Drayich‘ Larsson.

Later that year, KuroKy and mousesports would play with a stand-in at DreamHack Winter. That substitute would be none other than Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov, the one player who arguably had the biggest impact on KuroKy and his career as a professional Dota 2 player.

The Birth of the K-God

It was with Puppey that KuroKy found the most success with early on in his career. Together, they would form and join Kingsurf, along with earlier professionals such as Ivan ‘Vigoss‘ Shinkarev and Jesper ‘Mirakel‘ Nyhlén. At a time where most teams were fragmented into regions, Kingsurf had the advantage of practicing with their Asian roster, and it showed in their play. KuroKy, for one, criticized European players at the time, saying that the supports were simply lower-skill players who weren’t good enough to play as cores on their teams.

Unfortunately, fielding a stable roster was not the easiest thing to do back then. As a result, KuroKy and Kingsurf would go through a revolving door of players. This includes some of today’s biggest names such as Clinton ‘Fear‘ Loomis, Jimmy ‘DeMoN‘ Ho and Ben ‘Merlini‘ Wu. However, despite the unstable nature of the scene, KuroKy remained firm in his quest to prove himself in competition. He was often the standout of his teams and very rarely would his teams not find a place on top of both the literal and proverbial podium with him leading the way.

Renowned for his mechanical skill and knowledge, KuroKy later on received the monicker of “K-God”, even receiving the Carry of the Year award from GosuGamers at the young age of 16.

From Friends to Rivals

As time passed by, the unstable scene started to take its toll on the then-young carry player. In an interview with GosuGamers back in 2010, KuroKy revealed that there just wasn’t enough tournaments for the scene and that there was a lot of “fake money” put into the game back then. Nevertheless, he stayed with the game, even after his long-time friend, Puppey, left his side to join Natus Vincere.

As revealed in his blog on GosuGamers titled “Brave New World”, KuroKy expressed his doubts and almost quit the game. But, due to the urging of his then teammates, including Pers Anders Olsson ‘Pajkatt‘ Lille, he stayed with the team as their leader, vowing that he will eliminate anyone who stood in his way, including his former teammate Puppey.

Coincidentally, KuroKy’s announcement came at just the right time. A few months later, Valve would announce Dota 2. Valve would later reveal to the public at Gamescom 2011 in Germany in what has since become one of the most well-known series of tournaments throughout the world: The International.

A Rough Start

Despite his stellar play, KuroKy and his team would fail to experience the highs of winning. KuroKy would spend his first TI watching his former teammate Puppey and Natus Vincere take down the Chinese powerhouse EHOME to win the first ever TI. Afterwards, he would bounce from one team to another, finding little to no success. As a result, he was in danger of missing the second TI. However, as luck would have it, MUFC would fail to secure visas as a team and later replaced by mousesports, who picked up Kuroky as a stand-in.

While KuroKy did make an appearance, he would experience yet another heartbreak for the second TI in a row. He would exit the tournament early once again, as Puppey, who was now the captain of Natus Vincere, went on to lead his team to yet another Grand Final run, albeit losing to the eventual champions Invictus Gaming.

After TI2, KuroKy would stay with mousesports as the organization gave him the opportunity to play with a competitive all-German squad. To accomodate the changes, KuroKy would go from his position 1 or 2 role to the offlane. The players he adjusted for remain relevant to this day: Dominik ‘Black^’ Reitmeier and Adrian ‘FATA-‘ Trinks. This too would not last long, however, as Natus Vincere eventually came knocking on KuroKy‘s door.

Although Natus Vincere were the undisputed best Dota 2 team in the west back then, some of their players had begun to lost motivation post-TI2. As a result, the CIS-based organization decided to let go of Sergey ‘ARS-ART‘ Revin and Dmitriy ‘LighTofHeaveN‘ Kupriyanov. To replace both players, Alexander ‘XBOCT‘ Dashkevic brought in one of his friends in Gleb ‘Funn1k‘ Lipatnikov, while Puppey convinced Natus Vincere to buy out KuroKy from mousesports.

Reunited, Retooled and Rejuvinated

Now reunited with Puppey and with Danil ‘Dendi‘ Ishutin manning the middle lane, the new Natus Vincere came out with renewed vigor. But, with the roles already set in stone, the newcomer KuroKy had to adjust. So, from playing as one of the cores, he shifted to the support role, an unfamiliar territory for a player who has long been hailed as one of the best carries in the world. Even so, KuroKy was determined to make it work, and with Puppey, the two would go on to man the backlines for one of the most successful Dota 2 teams of all time.

With KuroKy in the fold, Natus Vincere would not only maintain its status as the top Dota 2 team in the West, but they would actually improve. Natus Vincere would then head into TI3 with some serious momentum, having won three straight LAN tournaments in a row.

Unfortunately, despite being the heavy favourites, Natus Vincere would fall just short of winning the whole thing. Alliance, an up-and-coming all-Swedish powerhouse, would play the spoilers this time around. They, along with Natus Vincere, dispatched every other Dota 2 team in the tournament until their first meeting in the Winner’s Finals. Alliance would draw first blood, sweeping Natus Vincere. This sent them down to the lower bracket finals where they came away with a hard-fought win against Orange Esports to set up a Grand Finals that has now become the “El Clasico” of Dota 2.

A Roller Coaster of a Ride

The Grand Finals of TI3 became the perfect way to showcase Dota 2 to the rest of the world. To date, many still regard the game-winning “Million Dollar Dream Coil” made by Gustav ‘s4‘ Magnusson as the best and most clutch play in Dota 2 history.

With the boost in Dota 2’s popularity came in a new breed of players and more organizations willing to invest in the game. As for KuroKy, he would stay with Natus Vincere as they set out to rebound and avenge their loss at TI4, but it would never come. Instead, they would find themselves eliminated early by Cloud9.

The team so used to playing in the biggest stage of them all watched as newly-minted organizations Evil Geniuses and Team DK made deep runs, while another relative newcomer in Newbee ended up winning the coveted title.

What followed next for KuroKy was a roller coaster of a year as he teamed up with Puppey to form Team Secret. Supposedly a “player-owned” organization, Team Secret had the makings of a powerhouse; Alliance’s captain s4 came aboard, while the duo of Tal ‘Fly‘ Aizik and Johan ‘N0tail‘ Sundstein rounded out the roster; Evil Geniuses’ own dynamic duo of Artour ‘Arteezy‘ Babaev and Ludwig ‘zai‘ Walhberg would displace Fly and N0tail.

It was this very roster that took the world by storm. In fact, many were so ready to give them the title of champions already before the start of TI5. Unfortunately, despite bagging 4 LAN titles in 6 tries prior to their trip to Seattle, internal conflict and drama would split the roster apart. This resulted in a modest, but ultimately disappointing 7th-8th place finish that saw Team Secret fall to Virtus Pro in a series filled with confusing plays.

Redemption at Last

After TI5, KuroKy sought to win on his own terms, his reputation be damned. He called up his former teammate FATA- and took the risk in three promising players:  Lasse ‘MATUMBAMAN’ Urpalainen, Jesse ‘JerAx‘ Vainikka, and Ivan ‘MinD_ContRoL‘ Ivanov.

The team, named 5Jungz, took no time to gel. Barely a month after playing together, they were picked up by Team Liquid. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since taking up leadership, KuroKy has led Team Liquid to 371 wins in 562 games, which is good for a win-rate of 66.01%, the highest percentage among all Dota 2 teams who have played a minimum of 126 professional games since October of 2015. To date, KuroKy continues to play with MATUMBAMAN and MinD_ContRoL. Though the roster have since changed, with Amer ‘Miracle‘ Al-Barkawi and Maroun ‘GH‘ Merhej replacing FATA- and JerAx post TI6.

Perhaps an even more amazing statistic is that their latest five-man lineup, which has played together since November 25, 2016, is currently the winningest Dota 2 roster in history (with a minimum of 126 professional games played) with a 72.80% win rate in 239 games.

With 1,001 career wins and a TI in tow, as well as with Team Liquid looking as spry as ever after having won 7 of the last 10 LAN tournaments they’ve attended, there’s no doubt that KuroKy will continue to achieve even more in the months and years to come.

Do you think that KuroKy is the best Dota 2 player of all time? If not, then who do you think deserves the title? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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