The Return of Natus Vincere to The International

Today, we continue our series looking at the top contenders of TI9 as we make our way into the most prestigious event in eSports. The historic success of the Natus Vincere tag is very closely related to The International’s Dota 2 tournament series.

In 2011, the Ukrainian team, led by Ivan ArtStyle Antonov, won against EHOME at the first championship in Cologne. The EU side earned a record million dollars at the time. NAVI then played twice in a row in the finals of The International – against Invictus Gaming and Alliance – but they could not win a second Aegis.

Series of poor results

After several years of dominating the professional scene, NAVI’s results have deteriorated dramatically. The team began a series of reshuffles, but none helped them to return to the top. In 2015 and 2016, the Ukrainian club was among the first to leave The International, and at TI7 and TI8, NAVI players could not even progress through regional qualifiers.

Due to unsatisfactory results, the lineup was reassembled several times almost from scratch , until the managers hit upon an optimal roster. This year, there is some hope for the EU side. After a long break, fans will finally see their favorite club at The International 2019.

According to Esports Earnings, Natus Vincere’s Dota 2 lineups have earned more than $4.1 million. This is a million more than the sum of the prize money of the most successful CS: GO team. If NAVI performs well in China, this gap can widen. The TI9 prize pool has already exceeded $30 million and has become the largest in the history of eSports. However, it’s too early to talk about the club’s claims to victory in Shanghai. 

Road to Success

Before the start of the 2018/2019 season, Danil “Dendi” Ishutin , who had played for NAVI for almost eight years, left the team. Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev returned to the position of captain. Meanwhile, Idan “MagicaL” Vardanyan, Evgeny “Blizzy Pu,” and Evgeny Chuvash “Makarov” came on as newcomers. In addition to the new roster, the management also changed their coach – instead of Alexander XBOCT Dashkevich, Andrei Mag Chipenko was invited to take on the role.

This new composition couldn’t qualify for The Kuala Lumpur Major, but made its way to the Swedish Major DreamLeague Season 10. In Stockholm, NAVI came in second, losing to the Tigers in a tense final series 2-3. After that, the Butaeva team showed a strong game at the MegaFon Winter Clash, where they dealt with Virtus.pro and PSG.LGD, but lost to Team Liquid in the grand final.

Road to TI9

DreamLeague Season 11 was the only major Dota Pro Circuit this season where Natus Vincere made it to the main event. The team finished in 13th-16th place with a 3-6 record on the cards – they beat Chaos, but lost to Evil Geniuses, Vici Gaming, and J. Storm. In April, the team visited the non-DPC competition ESL One Mumbai 2019. There, they took third place, but this did not stop them from making further reshuffles. After Butaev’s return, the roster dropped Chuvash, and Bakyt Zayac Emilzhanova took his place.

Even with this unwanted change, NAVI qualified for the TI9 in brilliant style and would love to replicate their early form on the main stage.

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