As with any other sport or game, pinpointing the single “best player in the world” in Dota 2 is a very, very difficult task.
First off, players who are considered to be the best and most skilled can come and go as times change, thanks to patches that completely shift the metagame away from what those players are known for. On the other hand, they could just experience a decline in skill and consistency, as we’ve seen many times before with players who reach the top and go downhill from there.
This is in stark contrast to other esports titles such as League of Legends or StarCraft: Brood War, where Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Lee “Flash” Young-ho are unanimously considered by analysts and fans to be the greatest of all time in their respective games—because it is easy to point out eras or periods of time when they were utterly unstoppable and completely dominant. Dota 2 has had very few such eras, and even teams that looked like they were about to construct a dynasty would fall flat the next year.
That said, there are still players that have historically been great at the game, as well as fairly consistent throughout their careers. They may not deserve GOAT status just yet—for as far as we and the community are concerned there isn’t one definitive greatest player—but they have made their marks on the scene either way.
Top 10 Dota 2 Players
While it’s hard to point out the number one player of all time, it’s far less daunting to round up the top ten of all time. These players have gained notoriety and fame for their immense skill, understanding of the game, and confidence in the booth. Some players, on the other hand, are notable for their Dota 2 IQ in terms of strategy, preferring to beat their opponents through the draft screen and tactics instead of sheer mechanical prowess.
Please note that this list is highly subjective, and is presented in no particular order. In the end, this is an opinionated article—and though we might try our best to include a lot of fan favorites, we feel that these players specifically are deserving of top ten status.
Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei
BurNIng comes from a legendary generation of Chinese carries, back when the four-protect-one strategy was still popular. He is credited for his incredible Anti-Mage play, such that the hero and his skill build have become associated with him first and foremost. Though he has never won an International, his accolades in other major leagues and tournaments—like the historic reverse sweep of Invictus Gaming with Team DK in 2014—speak for themselves.
Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi
Back when the Dota 2 ranked matchmaking system still used a numerical ranking value (MMR) instead of the medaled league system we have today, Miracle- was the very first to reach 9,000 points of MMR. Known for his insane mechanical skill and uncanny game sense, Miracle- is one of the flashiest mids the game has ever seen. Two Valve Major victories and an International trophy also make him one of the most successful players of all time.
Peter “ppd” Dager
Perhaps the greatest and most sinister mind in Dota 2 history, ppd is infamous for his drafting genius. His ability to play the drafting game several steps ahead of the opposing team captain is always extremely valuable, and in many occasions secured victory for his squad before the creeps even spawned. His greatest achievement: winning TI5 with Evil Geniuses by defeating young upstarts CDEC Gaming.
Syed “SumaiL” Hassan
The midlaner with an ego to match his skill in the mid lane, SumaiL is notoriously aggressive and fearless in the face of overwhelming odds. After being brought onto EG in 2015, he had his breakout performance at the Dota 2 Asia Championship that very same year—where he displayed immense bravery and guts on his now-signature Storm Spirit. He has since become a fan favorite in China, where the local fans respect and fear his talent. Oh, and his age at DAC? 17 years old.
Xu “fy” Linsen
The god of the position 4 support role, fy is best known for his numerous mindblowing Rubick plays over the years. While the position he plays isn’t normally known for being captivating from a spectator’s point of view, he makes it incredibly entertaining thanks to his own magical touch. Watch out for his highlight reel-worthy moments in clutch situations.
Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng
LaNm is one of the most versatile players to ever grace Dota 2, having played all positions from hard carry to hard support in his long, storied career. The man truly can play anything and everything, though he is most famous for his Earthshaker play. His decision-making and composure under heavy pressure have made him a household name in China, though he is also well-loved by Western fans. Alas, like his contemporary BurNIng, success at The International has eluded him until today.
Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora
If China has LaNm as their resident Earthshaker expert, the Western scene has UNiVeRsE—known to the community as one of the most stable and unshakeable (pun intended) players in the world. In-game, he is solid as a rock, regularly creating space for his teammates and allowing them to farm by way of his expertise in the offlane position. UNiVeRsE is also a master initiator, thanks to his excellent Dark Seer and Earthshaker play. TI5 was his career-defining tournament, where he lifted the Aegis of Champions alongside ppd and SumaiL.
Zhang “xiao8” Ning
Known as “The Director” in China and the world over, xiao8 is credited for leading Chinese juggernaut LGD Gaming to three separate Internationals, and for being one of the very best offlaners to ever come out of the region. The man somehow always finds his way into TI, and has been a mainstay of the world championship tournament for years now. His victory at TI4 was the quickest in the game’s history, clocking in at just below 84 minutes of total in-game time.
Gustav “s4” Magnusson
s4 is one of the greatest talents that Sweden has ever produced. He is a very versatile midlaner and offlaner—having the ability to play in either position without missing a beat—but he is perhaps most known for his Puck and Magnus. The latter is especially fitting, considering what his family name is. He has a penchant for coming up huge in clutch situations, such as when he canceled three TPs on Na’Vi’s side in the final game of the TI3 championship match.
Danil “Dendi” Ishutin
And at last, we arrive at Dendi—known to the entire community and professional scene as the “face of Dota 2”. As part of the Natus Vincere squad that won the very first International, Dendi is a huge reason why Dota 2 is as popular as it is today. His charismatic nature combined with his eye-catching play in the mid lane make for a personality that is easy to like, evidenced by the number of fans he alone has amassed over the years. Though he has arguably declined in skill and performances as of late, his contributions to the game cannot be denied.
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