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The greatest Dota 2 players of all time and how to be like them

Just like in sports, professional Dota 2 players got to where they are mostly through determination and dedication to the game. Training to become the best is only part of their journey, though. Greatness comes with many costs, and mastery of Dota 2 through practice isn’t enough.

Take a look at some of the greatest Dota 2 players of all time and see what skills and virtues they have which you can take inspiration from:


Johan ‘N0tail’ Sundstein is one of the highest-paid esports players in the world and is known to have made a mark on the pro Dota 2 scene early on in his career upon joining The International (TI) 2013 alongside his long-time teammate Tal ‘Fly’ Aizik. They were met with even more success the following year as they dominated almost every DPC tournament they went in, much to the delight of fans and Dota 2 betting enthusiasts.

What made N0tail a legend in the Dota 2 esports scene is his capacity to work well with the people he is playing with. Even without his trusted teammates Fly and Anathan ‘ana’ Pham, N0tail managed to win back-to-back TI titles. It just goes to show how N0tail is a great teammate to have.


Kuro Salehi ‘KuroKy’ Takhasomi is one of the only two players to have attended every iteration of The International up until 2019. KuroKy made his Dota 2 debut in 2011 and had learned the ropes of the game’s pro scene at the biggest stage of them all. He made progress in his TI run back in 2013 when he rejoined his former teammate and friend Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov under Natus Vincere (NAVI) and in 2017 when he led Team Liquid to a TI title.

This TI staple became a well-loved personality in the pro space due to his leadership style which brings out the best out of his teammates in order to win games. He has a keen eye for talent, being able to scout the players who will make up the Team Liquid roster that eventually brought him a world championship.


Peter ‘ppd’ Dager is one of the best Dota 2 players North America has ever produced. He is also known to be an outspoken player who often voices out his opinions on competitive integrity and player rights via social media. Ppd is perceived by many Dota 2 fans as a player who is massively driven by competition. He showed this drive by leading Evil Geniuses (EG) with an iron fist which resulted in them winning it all at The International 2015.

As a player, ppd showed great skill in outdrafting his opponents and being an influential strategist overall. His leadership style may be different from that of KuroKy’s, but it had proven effective in ushering in an era of supremacy for EG. Because of his pragmatic and straightforward approach to leadership, ppd was appointed CEO of EG from 2016 to 2017.


Before he founded Team Secret, Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov was one of the first Dota 2 players who have earned a reputation globally for being the captain of NAVI. He was with the squad when it won the very first TI in 2011 and he also captained the team to two more grand finals appearances in 2012 and 2013. He created Team Secret in 2014 and became its captain for the next six years.

Being a tactical genius is what led Puppey to success in The International. This leadership style rubbed off on his old friend KuroKy which is why they were a formidable duo when they were together at NAVI. Being the other player to have competed in every TI, Puppey shows consistency and confidence in the face of multiple adversities.


Dota 2 is, at its essence, a game, so it’s only natural that people have fun while playing it. Danil ‘Dendi’ Ishutin shows this aspect of Dota 2 even in the pro scene. He made his debut as a pro back in 2011 when he played support for NAVI, the team that eventually won the very first TI event. Back then, Dendi was known for popularising the ‘Pudge fountain hook’ strategy that easily killed enemies even as he retreated.

Dendi is an unforgettable pro Dota 2 player due to his funny personality and crazy antics in-game and in real life. He is known to use and pull off unorthodox picks that will make most players scratch their heads. Dendi’s imagination and creativity was his only limit. Coupled with his excellent hand-eye coordination, he was able to propel himself to TI fame.

Essential skills that Dota 2 players must possess

The five players on that list may have risen to fame due to different reasons, but there must be some common qualities they share that makes them future hall of famers in pro Dota 2. What, then, are the skills that can be learned from the best of the best in this game? Here are some that are worth emulating:


High-ranking casual players may take this skill for granted, but staying calm is something that pro players master even before they become battle-hardened veterans. Keeping your composure will improve your focus in achieving the different objectives across the map. Ignoring the pressure and taunts from the enemy team is something you can even bring to the pro scene.


Since Dota 2 is a team game, communication is the best way to show synergy among your heroes and initiate game-winning combos. If you have an idea in mind for a good setup, relay it to your teammates so they can see if it will work. Likewise, you can report any enemy positions and potential ambush zones on the map. Don’t forget to listen to your teammates as well if they want to call some shots.


Most casual Dota 2 players think they’re better than everyone else. Admitting you were like this in the past is the first step in being self-aware as a player. It’s impossible to be on a winning streak if all you do is keep a self-righteous attitude towards your teammates and enemies. Learn to accept responsibility for your mistakes and make up for your shortcomings by listening to players with better experience.

Positioning and map awareness

Taking a peek at the minimap is always a must while playing Dota 2. This way, you will know where your teammates are and even secure some areas where you can strategically place wards. Being map aware also means keeping track of the creep wave on all lanes and knowing when it is safe to cross the river. Stay alert and avoid areas where enemies might gang up on you. Ask your teammates for further information if you aren’t sure where to go.

Situational awareness

Securing your team’s objectives is no easy feat if you are facing off against opponents of equal calibre to yours. There is also a chance that miscommunication may lead to some mistakes and momentum shifts in favour of the enemy team. In such cases, it is important not to lose hope and think of short- and long-term strategies that ultimately lead to your victory. Quick thinking is essential, especially when the pace of the game gets too fast.

Embodying some of the best virtues and skills that great players have is something that aspiring pros do. These Dota 2 skills may not assure you of a spot in a pro team’s roster but it will elevate your level as a player and raise your standards when it comes to playing and looking for teammates. Try showing these kinds of skills in-game and you might earn some respect from higher-ranked players.

Words by: Jean Razal