It’s hard to make it to the top of the Dota 2 scene, but it’s much harder to stay there.
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov and Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi have managed to do that for nine years to this point. The pair of captains are set to become the last two The International All-Timers, competing at every installment of The International in Dota 2’s history.
Longtime Dota 2 fans likely need no introduction to Puppey’s start in the game.
In 2011, Puppey took the first Dota 2 championship at The International 2011 with Natus Vincere. The monumental victory served as a springboard for the Na’Vi brand and established Puppey and teammate Danil “Dendi” Ishutin as two of the most popular players in the game.
The pair made the grand finals of The International two more times in 2012 and 2013. Puppey parted ways with Na’Vi following The International 2014, and founded the Team Secret organization.
Secret has long been one of the top teams in Dota 2 but Puppey reached new heights this season, winning two majors and a number of other events. The team stands as one of the favorites heading into The International 2019, with Puppey being well-positioned to become the event’s first ever two-time champion.
The only other player to compete at every International tournament is someone Puppey shares a good deal of history with.
KuroKy appeared at The International 2011 with GosuGamers. In The International 2012, he replaced Alexandru “ComeWithMe” Craciunescu for Mousesports due to visa issues. He then played alongside Puppey for the next three iterations of The International, playing with Na’Vi for TI3 and TI4, then with Secret at TI5.
In 2015, Kuroky formed a new team around himself which was later signed by Team Liquid. The team showed promising results in different major tournaments, but only landed in the top eight at The International 2016. They rebounded the the next year, winning The International 2017 with a 3-0 sweep in the grand finals against Newbee. Liquid didn’t post a repeat performance at TI8, but landed in a respectable fourth place.
Though Puppey and KuroKy are the only The International All-Timers, they aren’t the only players at TI9 looking to become two-time champions. The entirety of OG’s The International 2018 championship lineup is returning at TI9, as are the other four players from KuroKy’s TI7-winning team. TI5 winner Peter “ppd” Dager will look to bring Ninjas in Pyjamas to the top, while Evil Geniuses have a pair of TI winners in Syed “SumaiL” Hassan and Gustav “s4” Magnusson.
The International 2019 begins on August 15.