The CIS region’s Closed Qualifiers have just come to a conclusion. Despite good performances from Team Winstrike and Vega Squadron, Natus Vincere win a convincing 3-0 over Winstrike in the finals to secure their spot at TI9.
After going 4-3 in the Round Robin, Na’Vi brought the heat and won every lower bracket round and finished with a convincingly fast Bo5 finale.
Na’Vi has been a household name in the esports community for years. Any long time Dota player or fan of the game knows that Na’Vi won the first International, a million dollar tournament hosted by Valve.
Former star mid player Danil “Dendi” Ishutin was the face of Dota 2 for nearly five years. Known for his flashy plays and uncharacteristic interviews (seen here). Not only was Dendi a loved character by the community, he backed his humor and charisma up with skill and fun-to-watch plays. Even the controversial “Fountain Hooks” from TI1.
Unfortunately, 2016 was the last year that Na’Vi have gone to the International. And after two years of not qualifying in either 2017 or 2018, it was time for a change.
Star Players on the New Roster
Na’Vi has not been a dominant team in the Dota 2 scene since the early years of the scene from 2011-14. Since that time the organization has taken on a new roster of players and worked to bring themselves to the spotlight once again. Many extensive roster changes occurred over the years, but most notably Dendi leaving prior to the 2018-2019 season.
Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek has become on Na’Vi for a few years and has become the new centerpiece of the roster. His stellar play in the Safelane Carry role has been hard hitter which is driving home wins for the Na’Vi squad.
Crystallize has the skill of other famous top carry players such as Artour “Arteezy” Babaev or Roman “RAMZES” Kushnarev. TI9 is his opportunity to show this to the world.
People may not know of Crystallize as a star player in the pro scene since Na’Vi has not posted great results in a long time. However, qualifying for TI9 is an incredible result with the current intensity of the competition.
With the re-addition of Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev as the returning captain of the team along with the new roster Na’Vi has been able to place good results in their region and have only gotten better.
SoNNeikO has been a part of Na’Vi for many years but has not made it to TI for a few years until the current updated roster. However, he is a veteran of the professional scene and has potential to lead this stack of new skill to some upset victories on the biggest stage of the year.
Expectations at TI
Natus Vincere are still underdogs coming into this prestigious tournament. It would not be a surprise if they lose at an early spot. Do not immediately count them out because they have serious upset potential and are a big team to watch this year as team like them and Alliance reinvent themselves after years on the sidelines.
Follow Paul on Twitter @SilasDota
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