A multiplayer online battle arena game that was released as a sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA) in 2011, DotA 2 today is one of the most popular eSports games and is often regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time.
With millions of players worldwide playing DotA 2, the game is also one of the largest on the eSports scene, with multiple teams from around the world participating in various leagues.
Here, we look at ten players who have not only acquired great success in the game but have also left their mark.
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Johan “N0tail” Sundstein
There isn’t much debate about this one — Sundstein has been the finest to have ever played the game.
A talisman of OG, Sundstein led his team to two back-to-back The International trophies in 2018 and 2019. He started off with Fnatic in 2012, switching from Heroes of Newerth to DotA 2. His start to DotA 2 wasn’t what he expected, though, as he failed to win any major trophies during his time with Fnatic.
Sundstein moved to Team Secret in 2014. A year later, he moved to Cloud9, but failure to win anything saw him part ways with them as he created his own team, (monkey) Business.
A promising start with (monkey) Business saw Johan rebrand them into OG. He was instrumental in taking his team to victories at the Majors, winning the tournament a record four times. Coupled with his Major success, N0tail also led OG to consecutive The International championships, cementing his and his team’s place in DotA 2 history.
Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi
If there is anyone who can give N0tail a run for his money as the greatest of all time in DotA 2, it would have to be Miracle-.
Miracle- started off his career with the Balkan Bear in 2015, but it was a short stint with them as he was removed from the roster soon enough. He took this opportunity to develop his game, and even though he didn’t have a team, Miracle- slowly became the #1 player in the European division and then the world.
Miracle-’s rise was not neglected, as N0tail roped him in at the newly-formed (monkey) Business in 2015. Miracle- flourished with his new team and then, when they reformed as OG, won two Majors with them in Frankfurt and Manila.
Miracle- left OG in 2016, moving to Team Liquid, and although the start was slow for him, he slowly fit into the setup of his new team and won several premier tournaments with them, including the StarSeries Season 3, StarLadder i-League, EPICENTER and DreamLeague Season 7. The cherry on the cake, though, was his win at The International in 2017, where he was one of the key players who helped Liquid take the trophy.
Anathan “Ana” Pham
From a young age, Pham knew he wanted to pursue a career with DotA. After relocating from Melbourne to China to follow his dream, Pham got his professional career underway in 2016 as he joined Invictus Gaming.
Pham tasted immediate success with Invictus Gaming, winning the NEA 2016. He moved to OG in 2016 and was immediately off the mark, winning the Elimination Mode Season 2 and the Boston Major.
With OG, Pham went on to win the Kiev Major and then went into the record books as consecutive The International champion in 2018 and 2019. He played a crucial role in OG‘s 2019 win.
In June 2021, Pham announced his decision to retire from competitive DotA.
Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
Starting his career with Speed Gaming in 2013, Babaev played a key role in Speed Gaming’s victory at the MLG Columbus. His talents were quickly noticed, and he was signed up for the then-newly-formed Evil Geniuses.
With Babaev, Evil Geniuses found immediate success as they won the Monster Energy Invitational. They were one of the favourites for The International but fell short, taking third place.
Babaev continued his strong form and moved teams in 2015, joining Team Secret after having internal issues with EG. He was instrumental with Team Secret, but failure to win anything substantial meant he returned to Evil Geniuses later that year.
Although he failed to win The International, Babaev continued his strong personal form and was even the highest ranked player in the 2016. After shuffling between Team Secret and EG a couple of times, Arteezy joined EG in 2016, where he has been ever since. He played an important role in winning The Manila Masters tournament, and although he put in stellar performances for EG at The International, he is still waiting for that elusive The International trophy.
Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan
Hassan started his professional career in 2015 after Evil Geniuses signed him up following stellar performances in the North American Elite League.
Hassan immediately showed his talent and skill, helping EG win The International in 2015. His stellar performances earned him a spot in TIME‘s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2016.
Hassan left EG in 2019, joining Quincy Crew, but that was a short-lived venture as he moved to OG in 2020. In early 2021, he left OG to fill in a stand-in role at Team Liquid before rejoining OG.
Hassan currently is a member of the Team Secret roster.
Luo “Ferrari_430” Feichi
One of the finest ‘solo middle’ role players, Feichi started his professional career with iG.Z in 2011. His time with them wasn’t as fruitful as he would have wished, though, and he moved to Invictus Gaming.
Feichi found instant success at IG, taking his team to The International win in 2012. He further won the World Cyber Games, Frankfurt Major, WPC 2014 and G League Season 2 with IG. During his time with IG, Feichi was regarded as the best solo player on multiple occasions.
Feichi left IG in 2017 and had short stints with Newbee Boss, Big God, Young Dumb, Mr Game Boy and EHOME, with the latter being his final team before he retired.
Danil “Dendi” Ishutin
Regarded as one of the most stylish players of the game, Ishutin started his professional career in 2006 with Wolker Gaming. He spent two years with the Ukrainian team, where he made it to the finals of the MYM Prime Defending before joining Kinsurf.international when they merged with Wolker Gaming.
Ishutin joined DTS in 2009 and took them to second place at the ESWC 2010 and third place at the WDC the same year. His strong performances eventually saw him get signed up by Natus Vincere (Na’Vi).
Ishutin went on to win The International with Na’Vi and almost won the next year too, falling short as they finished runners-up. Ishutin took Na’Vi to greater heights during his time with them before finally being released in 2018.
After Na’Vi, Ishutin had a short stint with Tigers before he created his own organisation called B8.
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Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka
JerAx started his professional career in 2013 with Finnish team Rat in the dark. He was soon signed up by QPAD Red Pandas.
JerAx joined 4 Anchors + Sea Captain in 2014 and was team captain before leaving for Team Tinker in 2015. He didn’t find the results he was looking for, though, which saw him shift rosters again, this time moving to MVP HOT6ix. He found success with the Korean team, winning the MPGL Season 7.
Although he found success at smaller tournaments, JerAx failed to win The International with MVP HOT6ix. He then joined 5Jungz in 2015 and put in stellar performances that led to Team Liquid signing him up in late 2015.
With Team Liquid, JerAx won The Defense Season 5 and finished runners-up at the Frankfurt and Manila Majors. His strong performances with Liquid saw him get signed up by OG, with whom he enjoyed an abundance of success.
The Finn won the Boston and Kiev Majors with OG before taking first place at the MDL Macau in 2017. He finally won his maiden The International in 2018 and backed it up with another win in 2019.
JerAx announced his retirement in 2020 before joining the Evil Geniuses roster in November 2021.
Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi
KuroKy was a professional Defense of the Ancients (DotA) player before shifting to DotA 2 in 2011. He spent his early career with GosuGamers.net, Virtus.pro, Uebelst gamynG, mousesports, The GD B-Team and Team Zero before getting his first major breakthrough with Natus Vincere in 2013.
KuroKy was a member of the Na’Vi team that finished runners-up at The International in 2013. Na’Vi failed to build on that, however, and a disappointing 2014 season saw KuroKy leave the Ukrainian team for Team Secret.
They did win multiple LAN events, but heading into The International 2015 as favourites, Team Secret failed to perform well, which saw KuroKy part ways with the team as he looked at different avenues to win the biggest competition in the game.
KuroKy later formed his own team, 5Jungz, but that wasn’t successful, and soon he was signed by Team Liquid in 2015. His move to Team Liquid was the one he was waiting for, as he won EPICENTER 2016, StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season3, EPICENTER 2017 and also took home The International in 2017.
KuroKy‘s success with Team Liquid also saw him become one of the finest support players in the game. He came close to a second International title in 2019 but fell short as his team lost to OG in the finals.
After four extremely successful seasons with Team Liquid, which also saw him become the first-ever professional DotA 2 player to register 1000 wins, KuroKy left Team Liquid to form his own organisation, Nigma, with other members of Team Liquid.
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov
Like KuroKy, Puppey was a DotA player as well before making the shift to DotA 2 in 2011.
Puppey was already a professional DotA player for Natus Vincere, so, when DotA 2 was launched in 2011, he remained on the Na’Vi roster for the new instalment.
Puppey was the captain of the Na’Vi team and led them to multiple tournament wins such as the Alienware Cup, StarLadder Star Series Season 7, and The Defense Season 4 and also took his team to a second-place finish at The International in 2012. His greatest triumph, though, came at The International in 2011, as he led his team to victory.
After a runners-up finish at The International in 2013 and a disappointing 7-8th finish at The International in 2014, Na’Vi released Puppey. He then joined Team Secret in 2014 and enjoyed more success with them, winning the Shanghai Major 2016, Dream League Season 8, Chongqing Major, MDL Disneyland Paris Major and the DreamLeague Season 13.
Puppey is currently the captain of Team Secret and is the only player to have participated in every The International event.