This past week saw both Zheng ‘MidOne’ Yeik Nai and Lee ‘Forev’ Sang-don join the ever-growing list of Dota 2 players who have acheived a matchmaking ranking of over 9,000. The two players, who both came to Europe after TI6 to play for Team Secret, have thrived in the European online scene, even if their results in pro matches may not have been as good as they might have hoped.
However, this is still a feat that only a handful have ever achieved. Amer ‘Miracle-’ Al-Barkawi was the first one to hit the milestone last year, and since then some big names, as well as a few dark horses, have joined the club.
With MMR constantly changing it is often difficult to keep track of the growing list, so that's exactly what we've done by gathering all the players that have hit 9K MMR at least once so far.
Amer ‘Miracle-’ Al-Barkawi
Team Liquid’s Miracle- was the first to hit the 9K milestone in the middle of 2016. He actually hit the milestone while in Moscow, playing at Epicenter. His famous match saw him play Anti Mage and dominate his opponents to hit the 9K barrier in somewhat mundane fashion. He's one of only three players currently above 9K in the world, with the other two hitting the milestone in the last week.
Zhang ‘Paparazi灬’ Chengjun
Zhang ‘Paparazi灬’ Chengjun is the position one player for iG Vitality in China and is one of the best pub players in the region. Way back in January 2016 he actually became the first player to break 8K MMR on the Chinese server, and continued to climb to 9K. He has lead iG.V to some big victories in recent months and looks set to have a fantastic 2017 season both online and in pro games.
Roman ‘RAMZES666’ Kushnarev
At just 17 years old, Roman ‘RAMZES666’ Kushnarev is one of the younger pros out there, but it feels like he has been around forever. Stints on Team Spirit and Team Empire saw him become one of the best position ones in all of CIS and now on Virtus.pro he is part of one of the best teams in the world. With 9K done and dusted, and him still hovering around that mark, you have to assume his focus now is on finally winning a major or TI.
Lasse ‘MATUMBAMAN’ Urpalainen
Lasse ‘MATUMBAMAN’ Urpalainen’s rise from good player on a poor team to arguably the best position one in the world was unexpected to say the least, but it's been very entertaining. Unlike some who hit 9K and then drop off the face of the earth, MATU has stayed around that mark and continues to play incredibly well. Liquid are looking pretty unstoppable right now and that is partly thanks to the fact they have three players in the illustrious 9K club.
Wang ‘Ame’ Chunyu
Wang ‘Ame’ Chunyu can certainly be classed as an up-and-coming talent in the professional Chinese scene, but his ability in pubs is unquestioned. He constantly hovers around the 9K mark and always looks good. As a pro he currently plays position one for LGD, but was on CDEC Youth for most of last year. Expect his name to pop up more and more this year.
Ilya ‘ALOHADANCE’ Korobkin
A few years back Ilya ‘ALOHADANCE’ Korobkin was part of the Team Empire roster that many considered to be the best in the world. However, the time since has not been as kind to him. Last year he jumped between Empire, Virtus.pro and F.R.I.E.N.D.S. a lot and couldn't maintain his previous level in the pro scene. He did however manage to hit 9K MMR, proving that he can still play with the best in the world, he just needs a settled roster – unfortunately a luxury that is hard to come by in the CIS region.
Artour ‘Arteezy’ Babaev
Hitting 9K MMR was simply too easy for Arteezy, as he was only the second player to hit the milestone. He acheived it back in June 2016 when he was on Team Secret (for the second time). Now back on EG he continues to do well on the MMR leaderboards, but seems more focused on making sure he makes this year the one in which he finally wins TI.
Vladimir ‘No[o]ne’ Minenko
Vladimir ‘No[o]ne’ Minenko rose to fame with the old Vega Squadron roster that surprised everyone with just how good they were. He went on to hit 9K MMR and then secure a move to Virtus.pro to become a part of their scarily good roster who are still together. With No[o]ne and RAMZES666 on the same team every pro team should be keeping an eye on VP this year.
Lee ‘Forev’ Sang-don
Lee ‘Forev’ Sang-don has had a rough time of things since leaving MVP Phoenix after TI6. His stint on Secret was short lived, so he returned to MVP before leaving again after the Boston Major. Now with a new home on B)ears he is a part of a top EU team and seems to be back to his usual self. This also allowed him to hit 9K MMR this week, currently sitting at a grand total of 9,003 MMR at the time of writing.
Maroun ‘GH’ Merhej
Liquid’s newest recruit, Maroun ‘GH’ Merhej, seems to have revolutionised the team that struggled post TI6, becoming one of the best supports in the world. He was picked up by the organisation mostly because of his impressive MMR and pub skills, and fortunately that seems to have transitioned well into the top-level pro scene. You can be sure that as he continues to improve in the pro scene his MMR will continue to rise.
Linus ‘Limmp’ Blomdin
Alliance’s mid-laner is not someone you associate with the biggest of plays and the most impressive skill, but it turns out he is actually really quite good both at the pro level and in pubs. Clearly his skill from Heroes of Newerth transitioned well over to Dota, which allowed him to quickly become one of the best in the world.
Song ‘Sccc’ Chun
Song ‘Sccc’ Chun is one of the biggest successes of China’s youth system after it was overhauled a few years back. After a long stint on Newbee Youth, Sccc transferred to the main roster after TI6 and has made everyone else look a bit silly in the mid lane. His skill is certainly unquestioned and hitting 9K MMR was no surprise. We expect him to be one of the best in the world over the next few years.
Zheng ‘MidOne’ Yeik Nai
Zheng ‘MidOne’ Yeik Nai currently has the highest MMR in the world according to the official Valve leaderboards, sitting at 9,155 MMR at the time of writing. Secret’s mid-laner has proved that he can get it done in the EU as well as SEA with his move over after TI6. His new status in the 9K club is further proof of that. We expect him to stay around the 9K level for quite some time and he could even be in the race for the first to 10K, if that ever happens.
Akbar ‘SoNNeikO’ Butaev
Akbar ‘SoNNeikO’ Butaev was one of the few good things to come out of Na'Vi’s rocky few years since TI4. The support proved to be one of the best in the world and his 9K MMR status goes to show that. What's even more impressive is that he did it mostly playing supports, which is something most others on this list can't say. Unfortunately he has dropped a lot of MMR recently, and now sits below 8K, so the grind back up may take a while.
Hu ‘Kaka’ Liangzhi
Hu ‘Kaka’ Liangzhi is regarded by many as the best support in China, if not the world, and for good reason. He was a key part in Newbee’s ridiculous undefeated streak last year and has brought the team back up to the top of the scene. Not only has he turned Newbee into a powerhouse once again, he has also hit 9K MMR, and remains one of the best pub players in the region.