Steven R. February 4, 2019
Natus Vincere is headed to Stockholm for a major opportunity.
After an up-and-down start to the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season, the Ukrainian team scored a huge victory by successfully qualifying for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. It is the organization’s first berth in a Dota 2 major since the removal of mainstay Danil "Dendi" Ishutin from the team’s active roster.
Victory in the qualifier didn’t come easily to Na`Vi.
After working its way through the open qualifiers, Na’Vi’s run started in less than ideal fashion as the team took third place in its group. This forced Akbar "SoNNeikO" Butaev and company into the tricky position of having to walk the lower bracket tightrope from start to finish.
Na`Vi got off to a hot start by sweeping Winstrike Team, and followed that by eliminating The Pango 2-1. From there, a victory over fellow open qualifier winner Old But Gold set up a deciding series against Gambit Esports. Na`Vi handily took the first game in the series and posted an impressive comeback in the second to seal both the series, and with it, a trip to Sweden.
It was a needed win for Na’Vi, which has been under a microscope since splitting with popular mid laner Dendi in September.
Though the legendary player was synonymous with the brand for years courtesy of three consecutive grand finals appearances at The International, the team began a slow downward spiral in 2015 that dragged on for years. The final straw came in August when Na’Vi failed to qualify for The International for the second year in a row, which led to Dendi being removed from the team’s active roster for the first time since his joining the squad.
While Na’Vi managed to qualify for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major, Dendi was not so lucky. Playing as a stand-in with Tigers in the Southeast Asia open qualifiers, he suffered a shocking upset loss at the hands of 496 Gaming which led to his elimination from the tournament.