COMMENT: Love him or hate him, Puppey is the G.O.A.T of Dota 2

Puppey and Nisha bump fists after a match at The International 11 in Singapore. (Photo: Aloysius Low for Yahoo Esports SEA)
Puppey and Nisha bump fists after a match at The International 11 in Singapore. (Photo: Aloysius Low for Yahoo Esports SEA)

Love him or hate him, you can't deny Clement "Puppey" Ivanov is probably the greatest professional Dota 2 player at the moment.

Sure, he didn't win TI11 this time around – he came in second – but that doesn't take anything away from his achievements.

He already won TI once with the legendary Navi squad at TI11, and is the only player to have played at all The Internationals so far.

If you're a League of Legends esports fan following this – Puppey would probably be the equivalent of Faker. To be fair though, he hasn't quite won as many Worlds (TI equivalent) as the Korean pro.

But that's not the point here. Puppey is a G.O.A.T, and while I'm not the biggest fan of his style, you can't deny his greatness.

On that note, in Puppey's squad, there's a rumoured "my way or the highway" approach – and he needs a team that can take direction. Other squads may feature a more collaborative angle, but that's not for Puppey's team.

You either listen to him and perform, or you'll quickly find yourself on the way out. Supposedly.

But you can't deny the approach works. Team Secret, which he co-founded, has won plenty of Majors. He's done this with different players, with him being the only constant.

It's clear that Secret is his baby, and he's the reason why the team works.

Much like Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, who has been Puppey's teammate in Navi and in the first two years of Secret, Puppey is the reason why you build a team around them. However, while KuroKy seems to have lost his spark, Puppey's longevity is astounding.

At 32-years old, the hard support and captain still has what it takes to play at the highest levels in his 12 years as a professional player.

His recent TI11 run is a clear example of this. The team qualified through the last chance qualifier, battled through the group stages, and finished second. While Dota 2 is a team game, having an outstanding captain is equally important.

However, he's not without his controversies. There's been a video of him throwing his headset with great force and damaging a monitor.

A blog (which has since been taken down) also claimed, among other things, that he was egotistical, and would never admit when he was wrong.

That occasionally shows up in his drafts, where he will stubbornly pick the same heroes that lost, perhaps believing that it wasn't previously executed correctly and could still win (they mostly lost when that happened, just look at their repeated Leshrac picks in the TI11 grand finals).

But most great players have an ego, a confidence that they know they are correct and can win this. Without that confidence, you end up doubting yourself and losing.

That same confidence also gives him the ability to call out Valve when needed – calling this year's TI11 lacking a "magical" feeling he previously felt at other iterations of The International.

That outspokenness also makes him great for media appearances.

Whether he's doing Bane impressions for fans, or just making time to pose for them, Puppey knows how to engage with the community.

It's why fans overlook his possible problematic behaviour – though to be fair, he could already be a changed man since the earlier accusations were made some time ago.

With no signs of fading and the best TI showing yet in a decade, Puppey is likely to play on for a few more years before unplugging his mouse.

And when he does eventually retire, he will do so as the most storied esports player ever to grace the Dota 2 scene.

If Valve ever decides to stop treating Dota 2 esports like a community event and make an official Hall of Fame to honour players who have contributed to the scene, my bet is Puppey will be the first.

Sure, you can pick Danil "Dendi" Ishutin as well, but it's clear Puppey is leagues ahead at this point.

Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at Views expressed are his own.

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