As one might expect, very few Dota 2 players have been a part of every The International tournament since its inception. To do that, one has to maintain an extremely high level of play for nearly a decade.
But there are two players that have been able to compete at every TI in history: Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi and Clement “Puppey” Ivanov.
Once enemies, then teammates, and now rivals again at the top of the Dota 2 world, KuroKy and Puppey are the last All-Time International players. At the original TI in 2011, Puppey helped Natus Vincere claim the first Dota 2 Championship.
At the time, KuroKy was just a young player on the rise that was eliminated early as a part of GosuGamers. The next year was more of the same. Na’Vi looked dominant and made it back to the finals before losing to Invictus Gaming. KuroKy also returned to the biggest stage, this time as a stand-in for mousesports, who finished in 14th place.
From there, KuroKy and Puppey’s paths became intertwined for several years—KuroKy joined Na’Vi, a team Puppey captained. Together, the duo and the rest of their now-legendary team took second at TI3 before dropping to eighth at TI4.
Following the 2014 season, Puppey left Na’Vi to found Team Secret’s Dota 2 team. He invited KuroKy to join him. In their first season under a new banner, Secret placed eighth at TI5 before the duo broke apart and KuroKy split from Secret. He eventually landed with Team Liquid as the captain of his own team that would go on to become another dominant force.
At TI6, KuroKy and Liquid actually outplaced Puppey and Secret, taking home his third straight eighth-place finish at The International. As a team already at the top, Liquid proved over the next season that they were going to be in every title conversation from then on.
That was proven a year later when Liquid dominated the group stage and made an incredible losers bracket run, which included eliminating Secret, to win TI7. Liquid’s roster is now recognized as one of the greatest of all time as they continued dominating through this season, when they made their first player swap in more than two years.
Puppey nearly made it back to the top at TI8, but fell just short of defeating his former teammate as Liquid eliminated Secret for the second straight year.
Heading into TI9, Secret, despite being the season’s most dominant team, has shown some rust and shaky moments in recent events. Liquid surged in the middle of the season before replacing Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen with Aliwi “w33” Omar.
Another of Puppey’s former teammates, Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora, who departed Forward Gaming before the team made their late run to qualify, will miss his first TI this season. Leong “ddc” Fat-meng, a player who battled KuroKy and Puppey many times at TI while playing for EHOME and LGD Gaming, will also miss his first International.
This season has been very turbulent for most teams, so really anything can happen in Shanghai when The International 2019 begins on Aug. 15.