ppd Dota 2: a True Legend Retires

by Fabio

Dota 2 has had to bid farewell to one of its greatest heroes of all time. Peter “ppd” Dager has been an exceptional Dota 2 player from North America, part of the first NA team to win The International. He is most notably known as an incredible strategist, constantly beating his opponents in the drafting stage already. However, he had to work hard before he was able to earn himself a place in Dota 2’s history books.

ppd in Heroes of Newerth

His career didn’t actually begin with Dota 2. Under the alias “peterpandam”, he played Heroes of Newerth for the duration of 2012 and 2013. Most notably, he competed under compLexity Gaming and achieved a few second-place finishes with them. 

Unfortunately, Heroes of Newerth never really took off as an esport. Countless HoN players decided to transition to Dota 2, which was just starting to really pick up momentum as an esport. There, he competed in various amateur and semi-professional squads. When his latest project, ‘Super Strong Dinosaurs’ disbanded, he brought together Saahil “Universe” Arora, Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg, Clinton “Fear” Loomis and Artour “Arteezy” Babaev. This team finally made headlines, including a 19-map win streak. 

Dota 2’s ppd Gets Picked up By Evil Geniuses

While he had already been on people’s radars, this achievement finally motivated a big organisation to put him and his team und their wings. Signing with Evil Geniuses was a major step. Slowly, the team began climbing the ranks, until they were considered world-class material. 

In 2014, they landed in the Finals of multiple tournaments and won quite a lot of them as well. Their third place finish at The International 2014 was quite an achievement. Towards the end of the year, they ran into some issues and ended up on fourth place at The Summit 2. Behind the scenes, ppd and Arteezy were dealing with personal and professional differences, which prompted Arteezy and zai to leave for Team Secret. As temporary replacements, Kurtis “Aui” Ling and Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan were brought on board. 

These two players helped ppd immediately restore Evil Geniuses’ prowess. Once again, he was able to create these amazing drafts that made him so famous within the scene. At the Dota 2 Asian Championships, they made their way into the Grand Finals and decisively beat Vici Gaming. This set enormously high expectations for The International 2015, as they were now considered the world’s best team.

ppd heading into The International 2015 ( from Dota 2 TI Flickr)
ppd heading into The International 2015 (Dota 2 TI Flickr)

“The Wombo Combo Perfectly Hits from Evil Geniuses!”

Evil Geniuses were first to advance from the Group Stage at The International 2015. They had just swiped the floor with compLexity and EHOME. Unfortunately, they fell to CDEC Gaming in the Upper Bracket Finals and had to take a detour through the Lower Bracket. In the end, they managed to get through to the Grand Finals, where they had to face CDEC once again. The stakes were high and after their previous loss, they had to prove themselves again, more than ever. 

They traded the first two maps and on the third map, Evil Geniuses edged them out in a 60-minute game. Nothing was set in stone and CDEC could still overtake them at any given moment. In the next game, EG were only narrowly in the lead when CDEC attempted to kill Roshan. Had they successfully achieved that, the game might have been decided there. Instead, ppd and his teammate Universe perfectly played off of each other to dispatch of the entire enemy squad within seconds. This legendary moment, dubbed the ‘$6 Million Echo Slam’, has become a part of Dota 2 history. 

After being wiped out, CDEC never recovered and had to surrender the trophy to Evil Geniuses. Thus ppd and his companions were the first ever North American team to win The International. These moments are what fans will always associate with ppd.

The Post-TI Shuffle

Unfortunately, the Evil Geniuses roster drifted apart soon after their historic TI victory. When Aui was removed from the team, the community reacted harshly. To deal with the backlash, ppd took to his personal blog and delivered a scathing report on the atmosphere within the team. 

“I have ever been more stressed out in my life than I had been the past 3 months”. These are the words that he found for his time with Aui. Apparently, it was quite a challenge to work with the man, which cost ppd a lot of nerves. Arteezy was brought back into the squad, since ppd regarded him as a more gifted player. Most importantly, his warm personality would help restore the team’s positive atmosphere. For the remainder of the year, EG were not able to replicate their success entirely. They did, however, finish high up at events and even won The Summit 4 against Virtus.Pro. 

Unfortunately, the team underwent further changes. For some reason, Aui and Bulba were brought in as replacements for Universe and Arteezy. The team immediately struggled to connect to their previous level of play. Despite losing their TI invite as a consequence, the team decided to bring back Zai and Universe. Their performance improved almost instantly and they managed to qualify for The International 2016 regardless. At TI, they once again made a strong entrance, but faltered in the later stages. With a third-place finish and losing to Digital Chaos in the Lower Bracket Finals, they had definitely not been able to replicate their TI performance from the previous year. 

Tenure with Optic Gaming, Ninjas in Pyjamas

At this point in his career, ppd decided to take a break from Dota 2. He was announced as CEO of Evil Geniuses at the end of 2016. However, he remained open to the idea of competing again, under the right circumstances. And it didn’t actually take him long!

At the start of 2017, he was already back and playing for a mix-team called ‘WanteD’. That venture didn’t last for long, though. Consumed by his managerial duties, he refrained from picking up the mouse. Only when he announced that he was stepping down as CEO of Evil Geniuses, he finally decided to give the esports player life another try. 

He teamed up with zai, Per “Pajkatt” Olsson Lille, and Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen to create a super-team of free agent players. Their newly-formed squad was picked up by Optic Gaming within a month, before they were even able to play their first offline event. Unfortunately, ppd and his teammates never really found their way back into the upper echelons of Dota 2. In 2018, ppd went over to Ninjas in Pyjamas. A few Top-4-finishes followed, but that was all that ppd and his colleagues could muster. In 2020, Peter Dager finally decided to indefinitely hang up the mouse on Dota 2.

ppd Twitter – the legend announces his retirement

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Old Legends, New Faces

In the end, the old guard has to make way for new players and fresh talent. His longtime friend and TI winning colleague, Universe, has also called it quits. No one can blame them, they have earned and achieved enough. After so many years of competing in the esports space, ppd is arguably tired and looking for challenges beyond playing Dota 2. We can only hope that he decides to stick around the esports space, which is most likely. Though nobody can really replace him as a competitor and as a person, there are countless new players looking to kick in the door and prove themselves. 

Maybe one of them will lead North America to another TI victory once again.

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