Who do you think are the best Dota 2 players in the world? Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi, the 21-year-old carry player for Team Liquid who’s done nothing but win since turning pro in late 2016? Or is it, Abed Azel ‘Abed‘ Yusop, the first-ever player to reach 10K mmr?
While there’s a great argument to be made for each of the said players, it’s hard to argue against the case we have for who we believe deserve the title as the best Dota 2 players in the world — the ones who’ve made it to every International.
These four aren’t typically considered as the best Dota 2 players, but they have been at it for years and despite the circumstances, always seem to find a way to make it to Dota 2’s most prestigious tournament.
Saahil ‘UNiVeRsE’ Arora
Universe inclusion on this list isn’t totally safe. Technically, he was only a substitute for OK.Nirvana.int at the first International back in 2011. But, we’re including him, since Valve seem to count Universe when listing players who have been at every TI, so there’s that.
As a TI staple, Universe has been mostly successful, although his first two go-arounds as an official player weren’t quite so. Back in TI2 and Ti3, his teams bowed out at 9th-12th-place. His most recent exit as part of Evil Geniuses at TI7 was also equally forgettable as Evil Geniuses went on to lose to Team Empire and failed to break into the Top 8 in their first year since Peter ‘ppd‘ Dager vacated the captain role.
In between the said disappointing showings, however, is a run that only one other player on this list can match.
With former Heroes of Newerth pros like ppd and Ludwig ‘zai’ Wåhlberg, as well as pub star Artour ‘Arteezy‘ Babaev, on board, Evil Geniuses quickly became a powerhouse and took top three at The International 2014.
The following year at TI5, Evil Geniuses ended up winning it all, with Universe cementing himself in the history of Dota 2 with a game-sealing Echo Slam on his Earthshaker in the Grand Finals. TI6 was not so kind to the defending champions as they fell short, coming in third once again, before the aforementioned 9th-12th place finish at TI7.
At TI8, Universe will be playing for Fnatic and for the first time in a long time, not as one of the heavy favourites, but as a dark-horse team.
Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov
Enigmatic and polarizing, Puppey has been a fixture in Dota 2’s grandest stage ever since its first inception.
As part of Natus Vincere, Puppey played in the Grand Finals of a TI for three years in a row from TI1 to TI3, winning the maiden tournament before losing to Invictus Gaming and Alliance in the Grand Finals of TI2 and TI3 respectively. And though he’s long spurned the black-and-yellow to start his own organization, Team Secret, he has remained solid at the helm of his own band of misfits, year in and year out, albeit not quite as successful as his earlier years with Natus Vincere.
This year, however, looks to be different.
With a roster that has surprisingly remained intact all season long, Team Secret head into TI8 as one of the favourites yet again. They took fourth-place in the season standings, winning three DPC tournaments, including a Major earlier in the season. They also spent all season experimenting and redefining the meta, as has always been Puppey’s MO.
So long as Puppey is at the helm, Team Secret will always be relevant. But, winning another TI remains uncertain. Because, for all the tactical genius that Puppey is, his penchant for thinking outside of the box gives Team Secret a floor as low as high as their ceiling can be.
Expect Puppey to try and lead Team Secret the furthest they have ever been at a TI in August later this year, but don’t put it past them to bomb out early either.
Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Salehi Takhasomi
Favourites very rarely win it all at a TI, if at all. Call it a curse, if you’d like. Although it’s probably because they’re the most studied, so teams often have prepared the most to take them down. That’s been the case every year, except, maybe, for last year, when Team Liquid won it all and KuroKy finally got to lift the Aegis of Champions.
Heading into TI7, Team Liquid spent the last couple of months putting on a clinic against some of the top teams in the world en route to winning three straight LANs and taking their fourth at TI7.
For KuroKy, this title was long time coming. Once considered as one of the best Dota 2 players in the world, specifically for his core play in his early years, the closest KuroKy ever got to the title prior to Team Liquid’s win was with Natus Vincere back in TI3 where they lost in the Grand Finals to Alliance.
Now a crafty veteran and a staple at TI, KuroKy is looking to make history as the first to win a TI twice.
This might just be a pipe dream for many, but for KuroKy this is a definite possibility. The reigning champions proved that the TI curse was not real by winning the first DPC tournament and by winning the last one. All in all, Team Liquid won five LANs this season alone, finishing outside of the Top 4 just twice in 13 appearances.
With the same squad that won it all last year, Team Liquid have a real good chance of going back-to-back.
Leong ‘DDC’ Fat-meng
Easily the less heralded of the four players on this list, DDC is the only non-western player to ever make it to every TI, as absurd as that may sound. He’s also the only one who has yet to win a TI.
The furthest from a superstar as you can think of, DDC is a veteran support player who almost always finds a way to make it to TI, which is amazing considering he’s done it with a whole bunch of squads throughout the years.
DDC started off with a Top 6 finish at TI1 with Invictus Gaming, following it up with a third-place finish with LGD Gaming. He would stick with LGD Gaming for the next two years, achieving less at TI3 and TI4 before moving to EHOME who made a surprise Top 6 run at TI5 and finally finishing in last place at TI6 as a veteran presence in Vici Gaming Reborn.
Last year’s TI was easily the most financially successful run of DDC’s long career as LGD.ForeverYoung edged out most of their more known competition to take third place. In fact, had it not for their Newbee finding an excellent niche pick for Xu ‘Moogy‘ Han in Bloodseeker at just the right time, they would have made it to the ultimate round, and who knows what might have happened?
Alas, that is all in the past, and now, DDC once again finds himself as one of the few veterans in a team looking to make some noise at TI8.
The Best Dota 2 Players in The World
A lot has been said about how short the playing career of pro gamers are, but these pros serve as living proof to refute that notion. If we look back at their careers, we’ll see that it is possible to keep on striving to be one of the best Dota 2 players in the world for years and years to come and make a career out of playing Dota 2.
These four aren’t just exceptions to the rule either. There are plenty of other pros who’ve made a respectable living out of playing the game that they love. Players such as Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice‘ Pei Xiang, Clinton ‘Fear‘ Loomis, and Rasmus ‘MISERY‘ Filipsen have been playing the game for years, and though they may not have made it to every TI, they have made multiple TI appearances in the following years. Some, like Troels Lyngholt ‘syndereN‘ Nielsen, have also since transitioned to a career as an analyst/caster.
Having said that, The International 2018 is going to be an absolute blast, and it’s largely thanks to the contributions of the four veterans we listed above.
Click here for a complete preview of The International 2018.
Which of the four best Dota 2 players we listed above do you think will drop out next year at TI9? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.