Why do Dota 2 players shave their heads bald at The International?

By Kenneth Williams


Oct 21, 2022

Reading time: 2 min

Dota 2 players are shaving their heads bald left, right, and center at The International 2022, but why?

One of the best parts of any traditional sport is the weird traditions of seasoned players. For example, Michael Jordan clapping off excess chalk before taking the basketball court, and Wade Boggs eating an entire chicken before every game of baseball. Esports is young enough that we don’t have nearly as many quirky player traditions, but now Dota 2 players have begun shaving their heads bald before crucial matches at The International. The weirdest part? It works more often than it fails.

The story starts with Team Spirit carry and The International 2021 champion Illya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk. The day before the lower bracket final against Team Secret, Yatoro shaved his entire head. Many fans interpreted this move as a “sacrifice to the Dota 2 gods.” Shortly after, Team Spirit defeated Secret and later PSG.LGD to earn the biggest prize pool in esports history. 

Arteezy goes bald at The International 2022

Now at The International 2022, multiple Dota 2 pros have attempted to replicate Yatoro’s success by going bald. The list of players who have shaved their heads for The International 2022 is currently as follows, but expect to see more tributes before the end of the tournaments.

  • Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
  • Jose “Pandaboo” Hernandez
  • Rolen “skem” Ong

Do bald Dota 2 players actually perform better at TI?

While there’s no direct connection between going bald and winning at Dota 2, the trend does seem to bear some fruit at The International.

Shortly before an elimination match between beastcoast and Evil Geniuses, the TI11 panel brought out the stats showing how Dota 2 pros perform after going bald. Statistically speaking, players who shaved their heads seem to perform better in their next major series. Thunder Awaken support PandaBoo went bald and subsequently upset Evil Geniuses 2-0. BOOM captain skem used it to knock Yatoro and the rest of Team Spirit out of The International 2022.

However, that same beastcoast and Evil Geniuses series proved that it’s possible to shave one’s head in vain. The North American icon lost the match 0-2 to the South Americans, meaning that Arteezy’s buzz cut amounted to nothing. As one of the game’s most unlucky pros, it’s poetic that Arteezy is the first player to not be blessed by the Yatoro buff.


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