Though most of these are likely to be one-off squads including various journeymen, Natus Vincere may have cobbled together the best team in the CIS region. The organization has announced the releases of Andrii “ALWAYSWANNAFLY” Bondarenko and Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko. Replacing them is a superstar duo including former Na’Vi captain Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev and five-time major winner Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko.
The TI10 qualifier roster for Na’Vi will be:
“Despite the replacement just before the start of this season and numerous attempts to keep the squad together, we were unable to show consistently good results. Discussions with the guys led to the conclusion that the squad in its current form won’t continue playing together and, therefore, changes are inevitable. We would like to thank Bogdan and Andrey for their dedication, hard work and positive emotions,” Na’Vi COO Aleksey Kucherov said in a statement on the organization’s website.
Хочу сказать большое спасибо моим тиммейтам и менеджменту организации @gambitesports за отличные несколько месяцев. Несмотря на не самые классные результаты, это был важный опыт, который многому меня научил.
— Noone (@Noone_dota) May 25, 2021
The new Natus Vincere roster is a highly credentialed and talented team with a proven core. The trifecta of No[o]ne, RAMZES666, and RodjER make up 60% of the highly successful Virtus.pro roster that dominated Dota 2 esports from 2017 to 2019. Virtus.pro dissolved the roster after a disastrous run in The International 2019, but the individual players from that roster have crossed paths on multiple occasions.
Na’Vi will likely be spending the coming weeks practicing with this new team. Expect a debut to come in the TI10 qualifiers.
The Na’Vi roster is worth getting excited about, but many are likely asking why No[o]ne and SoNNeikO are leaving AS Monaco Gambit less than two weeks before the start of the WePlay AniMajor. Exact answers are unclear, but AS Monaco Gambit stated on twitter that the pair simply “refused to go to Kiev.”
— Gambit Esports (@GambitEsports) May 25, 2021
SoNNeikO spoke out on the matter on Twitter and stated that he made the decision after the team lost the first three games of the ESL One CIS League Season 2, and apparently the team winning out and qualifying for the WePlay AniMajor wasn’t enough to change his mind.
“After three losses at the start of the season I’ve informed the organization and teammates that I no longer believe in the success of this roster and that I want to leave…I decided not to participate in the major even though other parties were willing to continue working. I would like to apologize to my teammates and to the organization and wish them success in Kiev,” SoNNeikO said.
It is possible that Na’Vi simply poached the players from Gambit to strengthen itself and weaken one of its main regional rivals. Still, the situation shows how many loopholes there are in a new Dota Pro Circuit system that was meant to bring stability to the game.
AS Monaco Gambit will still play in the WePlay AniMajor, but will be fielding Stanislav “633” Glushan and Artem “Lorenof” Melnick in its roster to replace the departing duo.