The days when Natus Vincere were the team to beat seem like a lifetime ago. Since the beginning of the professional Dota 2 scene, Na’Vi have seen it all. The Ukrainian organization went from being on top of the Dota 2 world to falling short two times in a row. As if that weren’t enough, the past couple of years have been nothing short of a letdown for the former International champions. Despite many promising players wearing the yellow and black, Na’Vi failed to qualify for the last two Internationals. But today’s announcement doesn’t come as a simple roster change — it announces the end of an era. Danil “Dendi”Ishutin is leaving Na’Vi, along with most of the rest of the team.
Earlier today, Na’Vi CEO Yevhen Zolotarov announced that Na’Vi were heading down a new patch, one without their golden boy and poster child, Dendi. Dendi has been an integral part of the organization’s success, playing under the Natus Vincere banner since 2010. He has been considered the face of Dota 2 since the game’s launch, and one of the most lovable personas in the whole of esports.
Apart from Dendi, offlaner Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini and the support duo of Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk and Fedor “velheor” Rusikhin will also be leaving the organization. The only player from the previous roster that will continue playing for Na’Vi is carry Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek.
Replacing them will be former Na’Vi support Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev, who will also be the team’s captain. Joining him will be young pubstar Idan “MagicaL” Vardanyn, who will most certainly have the biggest shoes to fill, playing as the new mid-laner. The last known addition will be Kyrgyzstani offlaner Evgeniy “Blizzy” Ree who spent the last season with Vega Squadron. With the team 80 percent complete, only the number 4 support position remains vacant.
Sonneiko has had previous tenures with Na’Vi, playing with the team from 2015 – 2016 and once again from 2017 – 2018 with moderate success. First coming into the team as a young star, he has established himself as one of the best support players in the CIS region. MagicaL is largely unknown in the competitive Dota 2 scene but has had brief stints with Yellow Submarine and Effect. Blizzy has played for the Kyrgyzstani team NoLifer5 in the past, but his biggest achievements came with Vega Squadron this past season. While their talent is unquestionable, all of them still have a lot to prove in the international Dota 2 scene.
Na’Vi’s fresh start represents a huge gamble, but could also be a step in the right direction. With Dendi’s departure, the team has lost the last member of their legendary TI 2011 winning squad, but their legacy will live on. The Ukrainian organization is getting into some uncharted waters, and while their future is looking as shaky as ever, the payoff of not being bound by the shackles of the past is immeasurable.
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