The start of The International 2022 is less than a month away. The eleventh tournament of the series is about to open its doors to spectators at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Center and hundreds of thousands of fans online.
An event of this magnitude is a celebration for the entire industry, not to mention Dota 2 in particular. And it is the players who make it so.
In our material, we recall performers who have been asking for Aegis for a long time, but cannot achieve their cherished goal. All of them will get another chance this year, but for some it may be the last.
How the TOP players were formed
Before starting, I want to note that almost any TOP (with the exception of dry extracts of statistical data) is a purely subjective perception of the author of this top. Our case is no different, although we used some metrics for convenience.
So, we chose representatives of each (!) region. This may, and most likely will entail not being included in the list of seemingly obvious candidates and the inclusion of several unexpected options in it. A representative of a region is equal to a citizen of a country in that region.
In addition, when forming our TOP, we took the players who will play at The International 10, INCLUDING players from the teams that qualified for the Last Chance Qualifiers.
1. Ludwig “Zai” Wåhlberg. Europe
Where he plays: Team Liquid
Achievements at tournaments of The International series: 3rd place at TI 4, TI 6, TI 10, 4th place at TI 9.
Opens the list of uncrowned Ludwig Wahlberg, aka zai. 25 year old Swede, one of the most titled players in the history of Dota 2.
Having moved to Dota 2 from HoN in 2013, zai quickly found a place for himself in North America. The first major club for zai was EG, with whom the Swede began the history of “failures” at The International.
In 2014, Ludwig and his team took 3rd place, missing Vici Gaming in the final of the tournament, who eventually lost in the championship match against Newbee.
zai’s next entry at TI was a performance together with Team Secret at The International 2015. Then the “super team” sensationally lost to VP at the TOP-8 stage, and the former club zai EG won the Aegis.
In 2016, zai rejoins EG in the hope of repeating the success of a year ago, but the TOP-3 threshold could not be overcome: fellow countrymen from Digital Chaos did not let EG into the final.
There were attempts to raise the Aegis in 2019 and 2021. Again with Team Secret, and again no higher than 3rd place. At TI9 under the leadership of Puppey, zai took 4th place, losing a crucial match against Team Liquid, and in 2021 he failed to overcome Team Spirit, who ended up winning Aegis.
At The International 2022, zai will play for Team Liquid. A repetition of Ludwig’s best result may not happen, since for this Liquid must overcome the Last Chance Qualifiers, and only after that they can claim high places.
2. Arthur “Arteezy” Babaev. North America
Where he plays: Evil Geniuses
Achievements at tournaments of The International series: 3rd place at TI 4 and TI 8, 5-6 at TI 9.
Arteezy is directly related to zai and, like the Swede, has been going around and around the Aegis of Champions for a long time. Artur began his path to a seemingly unattainable trophy in 2013 when he joined Kaipi.
In the mix, Kaipa Arteezy has established himself as an up-and-coming performer. In those days, Arteezy played in 2nd position, and his moves quickly migrated to cuts on YouTube.
With zai, Arteezy connects the common past in EG and Team Secret. Arthur was close to the championship with EG and, like zai, after a close to triumph, but still a failure, he exchanged the club’s banners for the prospect of a “super team” in Team Secret.
In retrospect, that transition was a pivotal one in Arthur’s career. After leapfrogging from Secret to EG and vice versa, Arteezy once again entered the TOP-3 in 2018, and then began a free fall in terms of performance.
The apogee of Arteezy’s performance at the TI series championships was 2021, when EG were eliminated from Vici Gaming at TI 10. Now Arthur will have another chance to rise on the champions’ podium, but the likelihood of such an event is very low.
EG in the current roster is “storming” to the fullest. Here you have substitutions, relocations, and losses in the regional league against TIR-2 teams.
Arteezy is a meme man. But the main meme will be his victory at The International 2022.
3. Wang “Ame” Chunyu
Where he plays: PSG.LGD
Achievements at tournaments of The International series: 2nd place at TI 8, TI 10, 3rd place at TI9, 4th place at TI 7.
The Chinese region is the main donor of unlit stars. Among them, ame has a special status.
Don’t think, Somnus, fy, xinQ – they are all worthy too, but ame has a special story. Here you have a betrayal with a kick and a triumphant return – in the best traditions of the genre.
Ame is a representative of the “new school”, although he has already set his teeth on edge in the field of competitive dota. Ame’s untrodden path to the podium began in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2017 that Aegis got close.
At his first The International Ame, he took 4th place, after which OG’s “miracle” happened in 2018. Losing the Vancouver TI final created a lot of doubt in PSG.LGD, as a result of which Ame was eliminated from the main team.
As it turned out, the decision was premature and already in 2019 Wang returned to his native walls. That year, PSG.LGD took 3rd place to return to the anniversary TI as an absolute favorite, as it was already at TI 8.
10 The International was already in PSG.LGD’s pocket, exactly until Team Spirit interrupted the fantasies of the Chinese. Ame failed to raise the coveted Aegis, and now The International 2022 risks becoming almost the last chance for success for a player standing at arm’s length in the Aegis step.
4. Cheng Jin Xiang “Nothing To Say”. Southeast Asia
Where he plays: PSG.LGD
Achievements in tournaments of The International series: 2nd place in The International 10.
NTS is an unobvious choice of TOP. It’s all about the dissonance between the team for which he stands and the region, the nominal representative of which he is.
NothingToSay is Malaysian, and as we noted above, we consider citizenship to be part of the region. But not only this fact calls into question the candidacy of NTS.
If his teammate Ame is a representative of the “new school” of DotA with an already outstanding portfolio, NTS is a middle school student in a similar paradigm, and not otherwise. At the tournaments of The International series, he appeared once, but how brightly he did it.
The first debut – immediately the second place and literally a pinch of luck was not enough to become a champion.
There are plenty of stories in Dota with world champion debutants: SumaiL in EG in 2015, Topson in OG in 2018. NothingToSay deserves to join the list of such persons, and such an opportunity will open before him in October 2022.
5. Aleksei “Solo” Berezin. Eastern Europe
Where he plays: NaVi
Achievements at tournaments of The International series: TOP-6 at The International 2017 and The International 2018.
Alexey Berezin is a bright personality both in Eastern Europe and beyond. The player enjoys prestige among professional doters, at least once he almost became an outcast due to a scandal with fake matches.
The redemption of Solo began in the ranks of Virtus.pro, when the “golden” composition of the “bears” gathered around Alexei. Under the leadership of the captain, the VP roster managed to qualify for TI three times, and to be there in the status of a favorite.
Twice Alexey managed to get to the TOP-6, and twice in a bitter struggle he remained out of the race for Aegis. The 32-year-old player is the champion of 5 majors, and you won’t find a candidate more worthy of him in Eastern Europe.
Given the solid age for a professional dotter, the upcoming The International 2022 is HIGHLY likely to be the last chance for Alexey to triumph.
6. Hector Antonio Rodriguez “K1”
Where he plays: Beastcoast
Achievements at tournaments of The International series: TOP-8 at TI9.
The conditions of our top assume the presence in it of representatives of all competitive regions of Dota, and therefore the presence of a Peruvian here is in the order of things. Moreover, the personality is bright, both by the standards of his region and beyond.
Of the entire list of characters presented in the top, Chris Luck is the most not obvious candidate for the role of the “uncrowned king”. But, if we take into account the specifics of the top with the presence of representatives of all regions, then South America has such a candidate – K1.
The guest beastcoast has been distinguished by a bright playstyle throughout his entire playing career and gave a lot of highlights. Not for nothing, beastcoast has an unspoken formula of the game – “four + one”, where the role of the first violin goes to K1, and the rest of the teammates are backup dancers.
K1’s main breakthrough at The International tournaments was getting into the TOP-8 at Shanghai TI in 2019. For South America, this result was unprecedented, able to break the stereotype about the incapacity of the region in tournaments of this magnitude.
In 2022, K1, as part of the same beastcoast, will be able to try once again to break the false ideas about the strength of the region among those who still have them.