How Did This Happen: The most deaths in a single pro Dota 2 game

by Daniel Rosen Oct 19
Thumbnail image courtesy of CC BY 2.0

How Did This Happen is theScore esports' series about scores, stats and player performances that stand out from the pack. The outliers that distinguish a game and turn it into a story worth telling.

It's not hard to find out who holds a world record in Dota. The community is incredible at collecting data and analyzing stats, and it's all super accessible.

It's a lot harder to figure out if that world record matters.

There are dozens, if not hundreds of pro Dota games being played every day all around the internet. Honestly, there are probably at least five games going on right now. That's why when I looked into which Dota 2 player has died the most times in a single pro game, I found an interesting stat.

It's a four-way tie.

That seems insane, but it's true. Four separate games separated by at least a month from each other, with four different players who each died 25 times in one game. This data comes from datdota, which maintains a records page, and lists four players who have picked up 25 deaths each in a pro game of Dota. The issue is that datadota's filters tend to be a little generous with what constitutes a pro game of Dota.

Fortunately, we can be a little pickier. The first two players to hit 25 deaths were playing in smaller leagues, and neither were professional players. The third was in an ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 3 qualifier, in yet another non-pro team.

But the fourth, our glorious, death-addicted hero, was none other than Natus Vincere's Akbar "SoNNeikO" Butaev. SoNNeikO, whose name is spelled with several unnecessary capital letters in the traditional way of those who were born among esports, died 25 times against Alliance during a qualifier match for DOTA Summit 7.

Na`Vi and Alliance have an illustrious history of playing Dota against one another. Their rivalry is years-old and is known as El Clásico, in reference to the rivalry between soccer teams Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Alliance and Na`Vi have played some of the closest, most exciting high-level games of Dota 2 ever against each other. Their Grand Finals series at The International 3 is often cited as one of the best Dota 2 series in history.

This was not a very good game of Dota 2.

SoNNeikO made some questionable decisions throughout the game. There was a lot of running into clearly losing fights, a little die-backing and, my personal favourite, two literal actual mintues where SoNNeikO sat on a tree next to Alliance's base, waiting for Jonassomfan to walk by, tried to jump him, failed, and burned a town portal scroll for his trouble.

Na`Vi was way behind for most of the game, but a decisive team fight (where SoNNeikO didn't do much of anything) knocked Loda's Phantom Assassin out of commission, giving Na`Vi a way back into the game. After a grueling hour and 49 minute game, Na`Vi somehow emerged victorious, but SoNNeiKO came out of it a bloody, battered heap.

Twenty-five deaths is a lot in Dota. It's not just a world record, it represents a loss of resources: time and gold. SoNNeikO ended the game with a halfway decent net worth, but that was only thanks to Na`Vi's rally. Both these teams were playing like garbage; this was not El Clásico, it was El Tráshico, and SoNNeikO has to suffer for almost every minute of it.

SoNNeikO averaged one death every 4.36 minutes. When you add death timers to that, SoNNeikO was spending minutes at a time staring at a gray screen by the later parts of the game. The game was long enough that every single member of Alliance registered at least two kills on SoNNeikO. Loda killed him a whopping eight times.

By the end of the game, SoNNeikO had been killed so often and given up so much gold, he was effectively a creep, shuffling towards his near-certain doom every time he came back to life.

But remember, Na`Vi won. Somehow, despite one of their players being a literal dead weight for most of the game, they pulled through and won this trash fire of a professional game of Dota. Na`Vi made the comeback, and SoNNeikO, well, look they won, alright? Let's not worry about it too much.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. He watches these games so you don't have to. You can follow him on Twitter.