The play. The $1 million dollar dream coil. The $6 million dollar echo slam. With 16 of the best teams in the world assembled into one bracket, it's easy for outplays and strokes of genius to be highlighted.
Among this year's teams, there's no shortage of star players. From unmatched mechanical prowess to explosive playmaking, even to drafting genius, Seattle, Washington, is currently inhabited by some of the greatest talent in Dota 2. Here are the players you should be keeping an eye on as the tournament progresses.
Amer "Miracle-" al-Barqawi, OG
9000 MMR and climbing, Miracle- is the star player in a lineup composed of star players. His prowess in the mid lane is unmatched, and teams often dedicate a great deal of resources to keep him from spiraling out of control. At the recent Summit 5, Miracle- played 10 different heroes in the mid lane, averaging a 4.07 kill/death/assist ratio (KDA) across the board. He's a threat on multiple heroes, from Juggernaut and Invoker to more obscure picks like Axe or Medusa. As a constant presence in every game -- despite a few stumbles -- Miracle- is still the mid laner to watch.
Artour "Arteezy" Babaev, Team Secret
Despite whatever roadblocks Secret may have experienced, the team's comeback at the recent StarSeries finals was spearheaded by Arteezy. With a history of leaving teams just as they reach their peaks -- look at EG before last year's International, or this year's Secret at the Shanghai Majors -- whispers went around that having Arteezy meant your team would win its next LAN.
At StarSeries, Arteezy quelled those rumors with impressive performances across too many matches to count. Ursa, Faceless Void, Alchemist, Razer -- Babaev is a multi-faceted player, and routinely finds space and opportunity across the map. This International belongs to Arteezy, and he's going to be looking for the top prize that's eluded him for so long.
Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida, Wings Gaming
Many three-roles find themselves drawing the short straw, struggling to find farm and gold against aggressive lineups. Most offlaners fight tooth and nail just to get their Blink Dagger. But Faith_bian finds opportunities.
As far as offlaners go, he's one of the best playmakers in the game. He's able to do a lot with very little, and never tries to capitalize over cores. Looking at his stats, you'll see great KDAs but low kills; he makes plays happen with minimal resources, and has the pool to always toss a monkey wrench into best laid plans. Get used to his Beastmaster? Here's Dark Seer. Think he'll run a normal lane? Now it's offlane Legion Commander ending the game with higher gold per minute (GPM) than your core.
Dmitry "Ditya Ra" Minenkov, Natus Vincere
Normally, when you talk Na'Vi, you look to Danil "Dendi" Ishutin. Yes, Dendi is a great player. But the breakout star for this new Natus Vincere lineup in recent weeks has been Ditya Ra, having made a name for himself in the one-role carry, especially on 6.88, a patch that seems made for Ditya Ra to shine.
His Huskar on patch 6.88 has a stunning 10.20 KDA, and his Alchemist averaged 1019 GPM in the two games he played at StarSeries. His Ember play was phenomenal, salvaging a losing game with help from Dendi's Magnus, and his pool is wide and effective. Ditya Ra can play core heroes to their fullest potential; on Alchemist, he farms and rushes for the items he needs while on Huskar, he looks for kills and early objectives. Many core players look to heroes that fit their mold, but Minenkov is one of the few that can mold to the hero.
Wong "ChuaN" Hock Chuan, Newbee
It might be easy to fill this list with cores, but it's important to recognize the unsung heroes in the support roles, doubly so for four-roles like Chuan. Newbee's roaming four have been in the game for some time, with one Aegis already hanging proudly on the wall. Chuan is well known for his loud manner during games and for his Enchantress play, which leads to many spectators spamming "Enchuantress" in the chat whenever he chooses to run it.
Look at the stats, though, and it's easy to see why Chuan is such a staple of Newbee. On 6.88, Chuan has averaged a 6.96 KDA leading up to TI6. An unbeaten team on the current patch, Chuan stands out with his exceptional play across supports like Lion, Vengeful Spirit, Dazzle and Rubick. In a match at the Manila Major, Chuan put up a 7/0/12 performance on his signature Enchantress against OG, a 19.0 KDA in a 31-minute game. Be wary, because Chuan can find chances to secure a kill almost anywhere on the map.