The Western European qualifiers for Dota 2’s The International 2023 have been the theater of dreams for the youngsters. But for someone’s dreams to become a reality, others’ dreams have to burn out. And today marked the end of Puppey’s TI all-timer status as Team Secret failed to qualify for TI12.
Secret arguably endured the toughest season in its franchise history this year. After placing second at TI11, the team couldn’t recover from losing star player Michał “Nisha” Jankowski. While trying to find the right balance, Secret found themselves in the second division, which ruled out a direct qualification for TI.
Despite the odds being stacked against them, Secret hit the ground running in the WEU qualifiers for TI12. A 2-0 victory over OG was the ultimate morale booster for Secret, but that boost failed to materialize against Entity, causing the team to drop out of the upper bracket.
In the lower bracket, Secret fought off Level UP and ultimately faced Quest Esports, a team that started clicking right before the qualifiers. Though Secret forced a third match against Quest, they couldn’t break through the energy of the youngsters.
Quest’s win over Secret also marked one of the most crushing upsets in Dota 2’s 2023 season since it meant the end of Puppey’s TI all-timer status. As of now, there isn’t a single Dota 2 player who has attended all TIs, and the record is also set at 11.
Puppey has been an integral part of the competitive Dota 2 scene. The legendary captain has been competing since 2007, which means he’s been around long enough to see the switch from Dota to Dota 2 and even won the first International ever held. While many pros retire after achieving their dreams in Dota 2, Puppey came back to keep pushing forward and achieve new heights in his career.
During his 11 years of TI history, Puppey nurtured new talents, formed his own organization, and even came close to winning TI again in 2022, but finished in second place. Over the last five TIs, Secret have been improving their TI placements, finishing the event with a better result each year. Considering Secret came in second in 2022, many fans hoped they’d finally win it all in 2023—a prophecy that may have also jinxed the team’s track record.
At time of writing, Puppey hasn’t made an official announcement regarding his competitive future. Secret will start the 2024 Dota 2 season from the second division, meaning there will be lots of work to do regardless of whether Puppey stays or decides to retire.