The CIS region just got a lot more competitive. The Pango is reforming to compete for a spot at The International 2019 with Danil “Dendi” Ishutin heading the new roster.
Andrey “Ghostik” Kadyk, one of the original Pango players from when the team was still called no-ex Pangolier, is sticking around as the once formidable CIS stack that challenged Virtus Pro and other top teams early on in the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit tries to make a comeback.
After failing to qualify for several events, Pango disbanded following the Chongqing Major and only a few players remained on the roster. Ghostik continued to play under the banner with fill-in players and other CIS veterans like Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko.
But after placing decently at ESL One Mumbai, head manager Igor “Bad Playa.” Gorevoy decided to check the market and see who was available. Apparently, the CIS market was heavy and Pango is back with some quality players.
Four new players are coming in to make one last push at making TI9, and this collection of talent could be just what was needed to tip the scales of the CIS away from Gambit. They could just flame out, though, since it’s unlikely that these players have had any time to practice beyond what will happen over the next few days.
The combination of Dendi, Vladimir “Chappie” Kuzmenko, Danial “yamich” Lazebny, and Mihail “Misha” Agatov is replacing former team captain Semion “CemaTheSlayer” Krivulya, Iceberg, and Danial “XSvamp1Re” Alibaev. Aybek “Naive-” Tokaev is still on the team but has been moved to the inactive roster, which means he could either leave the team or play as their substitute if needed.
These changes seem a little odd, especially when some of the players Pango let go have more experience than others on the new roster. It might have made sense to keep someone like Iceberg around, but the additions of Dendi and Misha heavily outweigh the other options.
Dendi is perhaps the most legendary player in Dota 2, playing for a handful of dominant teams in his nearly eight-year stint with Natus Vincere. He’s been to six different iterations of The International, winning the very first TI and placing second at the following two.
His time with Na’Vi as a player came to an end after the team failed to qualify to TI8 and decided to move in a new direction. He’s still technically under contract with Na’Vi, but they loaned him out to the Tigers roster, where he spent the majority of the season trying to compete in Southeast Asia.
That roster fell apart in March after losing their second star, Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung, when he signed with Team Aster in China. Dendi did well in smaller events during his time with Tigers, but they just couldn’t break into the DPC events.
In comments made on Tigers’ Facebook page, Dendi thanked the team for their support but said it was time to try something new.
“Thank you for giving me a great opportunity to play in SEA for Tigers. It was a great experience and fun times,” Dendi said. “Unfortunately our results were not very good so I decided to try something new. I really wish you to find success and achieve the goals you want.”
More than two months after leaving Tigers, Dendi joins Pango in his old stomping ground in CIS with hopes of making a return to the biggest stage in Dota along with his new squad. If this doesn’t work out for them, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the roster decide to disband once more.
As one fan put it in the announcement on Twitter, could this be the mustache of hope Pango need to claim a trip to TI9?
Open regional qualifiers begin on July 3 and run until July 7 in SEA, which means Pango won’t have long to prepare.