A new challenger in the CIS region is approaching.
Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev is back with a new squad largely made up of proven players. The team was revealed by Dota 2 Maincast, including a number of interesting names. Dota 2 esports fans have likely seen most of these players at one point or another:
iLTW rose to prominence in 2018 when he nearly led an unknown Espada lineup to The International. This was followed by a short stint as a substitute with OG. He bounced around from there, landing with Virtus.pro in 2020.
Afterlife is a veteran who has competed with a number of notable CIS squads. He will be rejoining a former Gambit Esports teammate in Immersion. SoNNeikO is best known for his run as captain of Natus Vincere, but most recently played for Ninjas in Pyjamas.
The freshest name of the lineup is Ergon. The Belarusian mid laner spent last season with Team Spirit and performed well, albeit on a team that underwhelmed throughout the year.
The new squad is currently nameless and sponsorless, but there is no shortage of potential landing spots for them. There are numerous prominent CIS organizations that currently have no contracted players or numerous holes on their lineup that could lead to a full reboot.
Though China’s roster shuffle season has been far more extensive than any other region, CIS hasn’t been static. The region has seen a number of prominent moves, including Virtus.pro dropping its primary lineup, Natus Vincere trialing the former FlyToMoon roster, and Team Empire building up a new team.
That makes it somewhat difficult to pin down this new team’s potential. Bringing together stacks of free agent veterans has proven to be something of a winning formula in Dota 2 in regions outside China. From 4 Zoomers in North America, to FlyToMoon in CIS, to mudgolems in Europe, it’s been shown that there’s an abundance of talent out there that isn’t attached to an organization.
It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see SoNNeikO gain footing with this new team, but their long-term prospects ultimately revolve around where they compete. The CIS region is fairly thin, especially with Virtus.pro out of the picture at the moment, but Europe will remain prohibitively deep in the new season.
It is unclear when this team may debut.