Neslyn A. January 1, 2020
Dota 2 legend Danil "Dendi" Ishutin won his first tournament in over two years. The longtime Natus Vincere mid laner has put together a new squad in Team MR and took the top prize at the Rivalry Winter Blast.
Team MR placed third in the group stage and earned a spot in the lower bracket of the playoffs with a 4-4 record. MR started its run by defeating CIS squad Extremum and went on to face OG Seed.
MR opened the series with an eccentric draft by putting support player Nikola “LeBronDota” Popović on Viper, a strategy that Evil Geniuses famously used in the ONE Esports World Pro Invitational Singapore event, alongside a carry Pangolier in Arslan "xannii" Shadjanov. MR won the game in convincing fashion.
With its back against the wall, OG Seed came back stronger in the second game. Although Dendi won his mid lane matchup against Rasmus Johan "Chessie" Blomdin’s Broodmother, OG Seed took control elsewhere to force a third game. Dendi shined brightly in the deciding match, dealing huge damage and consistently eluding OG seed with Templar Assassin en route to a series-clinching victory.
From there, MR defeated Nemiga Gaming and Team Empire Hope to earn a spot in the grand finals, where it faced Team Singularity.
The grand finals games went back and forth, but MR consistently found a way to close things out. Team MR took first place in 3-0 fashion, which earned them the $7,500 top prize.
Dendi’s new team has skilled roster, but tough road ahead
Team MR was formed in December and has been fairly active of late. Dendi has largely surrounded himself with skilled veterans from the CIS region:
- Arslan "xannii" Shadjanov
- Danil "Dendi" Ishutin
- Alexey "nongrata" Vasilyev
- Rinat "KingR" Abdullin
- Nikola "LeBronDota" Popović
Dendi gained a huge following across the world thanks to his run with Natus Vincere, which included a victory at The International 2011 and grand finals appearances at TI2 and TI3. His playfulness and exciting style in the game set him and his team apart from the rest of the competitive scene of the time.
The organization went on a steady decline from 2014 to 2018, which saw Dendi deactivated from Natus Vincere’s roster and released entirely in 2019. While he was on Na’Vi’s bench, he played as a substitute for a number of different teams including Vega Squadron, Tigers, and The Pango. Team MR’s win at the Rivalry Winter Blast is the first top placement for Dendi since Na'Vi won the Adrenaline Cyber League 2017.
Team MR has a solid roster and could make some noise during the season. That said, they have a tough road ahead in a competitive CIS region that includes formidable foes such as Virtus.pro, Gambit Esports, and the new Na’Vi.