Na`Vi: The era of ordeal
This year was without doubt one of the most eventful ones in the history of Natus Vincere’s Dota 2-squad. They experienced ups and downs, victories and losses; they cheered us up and got us down. Nevertheless, as the famous proverb says, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
The International 2015 is close at hand and our team has already arrived in Seattle. Now, guys are putting all their effort into adapting to the atmosphere of the tournament and focusing on upcoming matches. Meanwhile, their fans are not sitting still. They are also preparing for the tournament by getting pubstomp tickets, installing big screens at their homes, and buying chips and popcorn. Let's reminisce all key moments of the year to make this preparation even more enjoyable.
Step 1: Dota 2 Asia Championships
Step 2: Funn1k leaves Na`Vi
The first disappointing news of this year was concerned with the team’s hard-laner Gleb “Funn1k” Lipatnikov. The fact that he had left upset a lot of Natus Vincere fans. This guy had been the part of The Born to Win roster for 2 years and such changes made a lot of people doubt the future of the team. However, the team was moving on and invited Asus.Polar’s hard-laner Alexander “DkPhobos” Kucheria instead of Funn1k.
Step 3: Major All Stars, the loss of the captain
Major All Stars championship was held in Kuala-Lumpur between 20 and 22 March. Undoubtedly, this event was extremely important for its participants, as it was one of the last LAN-tournaments before The International and, consequently, one of the last chances to get a direct invitation to the main tournament of the year. All teams tried to do their best to practice and win, while Na`Vi, as always, experienced difficulties. Due to the health problems, Ivan “Vanskor” Skorokhod couldn’t come to Malaysia and Vladimir “yol” Basov had to play as a stand-in.
Little wonder that with such approach the results of the team weren’t satisfying — they took 4th place. This and a few other circumstances made another player leave the team. This time, Natus Vincere has lost its captain, as Artur “Goblak” Kostenko wasn’t its part anymore. Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev, a former Power Rangers player, joined the team as a stand-in.
Step 4: Na`Vi roster consists of 4 players
This time. the announcement about new Natus Vincere roster changes came as no surprise to the fans. Aleksandr “DkPhobos” Kucheria, who had recently joined the organization, has left the team. Overall, many people were skeptical about the future of Dota-2 roster after this streak of disappointments. Organization, in its turn, kept on looking for the ways out of this difficult situation.
Team roster: Dendi, XBOCT, Vanskor, standin SoNNeikO.
Step 5: «ArtStyle» and «Funn1k» return, «SoNNeikO» officially joins the team
When the breaking news about Gleb “Funn1k” Lipatnikov and Ivan “ArtStyle” Antonov’s return came out, many people were dissatisfied with this decision of the organization. All of them could be divided into two groups with completely opposite opinions. First group consisted of those who were happy about the team’s reunion and expected great results, while others described these changes as the final nail in Na`Vi’s coffin. Nevertheless, the first steps of the players were quite successful, as they managed to show great performance in the match against Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP). Ivan, the legendary captain that once led the team to TI 2011 victory, proved that he is still well on track by playing Chen. In addition to this, SoNNeikO officially joined the team. Full Na`Vi roster was finally complete and ready to work hard.
Step 6: The Summit 3 Redemption Vote
After the Lower Bracket 2:0 loss to NIP, Natus Vincere still had one last chance to take part in The Summit. To do this, they had to win the Redemption vote. Apart from our team, such teams as Alliance, Invictus Gaming, Asus.Polar, Ehome, HyperGloryTeam, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Empire, Leviathan, NewBee were also among the participants.
The first stage of the Vote had to determine three leaders that would advance to the second stage. Teams with the help of their managers did their best to win. Interviews, dancing, giveaways, contests and a lot more other things were done to encourage the fans to show their support. For example, Natus Vincere showed a live stream from their Summit bootcamp, while IG promised to do a funny photo shoot in maid costumes. Even though our guys managed to reach the second stage, their fans weren’t active enough to overdo the fans of a Chinese team. As a result, IG has won the slot.
Step 7: Red Bull Battle Grounds
While everybody was waiting for the results of The Summit Vote, our players managed to achieve some pretty impressive results in Red Bull Battlegrounds qualifiers. They clinched wins over Virtus.pro and Team Empire in bo1 matches, but due to the lack of luck were defeated in a close game by Hellraisers. Another tournament that could help our team to get a direct invitation to The International was missed.
Step 8: ESL One 2015 — Frankfurt
Step 9: The International 2015: all directly invited teams revealed
In the early morning hours of May 7 Valve revealed a full list of directly invited TI 2015 participants. Unfortunately to all Natus Vincere fans and the players themselves, our team wasn’t among them. For the first time in the history of International Na`Vi wasn’t invited and had to compete to earn desirable slot in European qualifiers, along with 4ASC, Burden United, Alliance, Power Rangers, NIP, London Conspiracy, Vega Squadron, HellRaisers, Yellow Submarine.
Step 10: Na`Vi win European qualifier
In fact, European qualifiers were the most awaited and the least predictable among tournaments in all regions. Every Dota 2-lover was uncertain about the team that would get a slot on the main event, hoping that the one he was rooting for will show the best results.
The beginning wasn’t successful for our guys, to say the least, — they lost their first match against little-known team London Conspiracy with a 0:2 score. All fans were extremely disappointed and doubted team’s chances to reach TI. However, one of the most thrilling features of Na`Vi is their ability to find the way out. That is exactly what happened in those games: our players took three great victories, making everybody recall who they are.
Step 11: MarsTV Dota 2 League 2015
The only things that Na`Vi needed after such an impeccable performance in qualifiers were to practice and play with other teams. For sure, they tried to find this opportunity at MarsTV Dota 2 League, but couldn’t use it to the fullest because of Ivan “ArtStyle” Antonov’s visa problems. Luo “It” Tao was taken as a stand-in, but the absence of captain made a serious impact on the quality of the game, and Na’Vi lost 4 times against Team Secret, CDEC Gaming, IG and LGD.
Step 12: Asus ROG DreamLeague Season 3
Asus ROG DreamLeague Season 3 was the last step before The International and the team went to Jönköping with their full roster.
The first match ended in Na`Vi’s favor, as they won Alliance 2:0. Afterwards, they took even more significant 2:1 victory over Virtus.pro. They had to face them off once again in grand final, but the second attempt was unsuccessful and they lost with a 2:3 score.
Step 13: Hidden threat
After all tournaments ended and Na`Vi started their bootcamp, it seemed that nothing could hinder them from proving themselves at TI. But these days were just the calm before the storm, as Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev’s visa application was rejected three times.
Fans tried to help the team in all ways they could. They were supporting Akbar, organized flash mobs and even wrote their own petition to US Embassy. Luckily, Valve and senator Maria Cantwell decided to help SoNNeikO, and a few days later, Akbar got his visa.
Step 14: ?..
What will happen next? Only time will tell. The International 2015 will start in just a few days and we’ll be able to see everything with our own eyes. It is fascinating, how long and difficult Natus Vincere's road to this year’s tournament was. If somebody heard this story, for instance, a year ago, he would most likely laugh and compliment you on your nice sense of humor. Could you name another team that overcame similar difficulties?
Right now, everything that fans need is team’s good performance at TI. Let’s wish our guys the best of luck and hope that everything will be okay.
Author credit: Yehor Sarapenia.