Over the last several months, Natus Vincere has reworked its entire Dota 2 team from the ground up.
This change started after the organization failed to qualify for The International 2018 and placed top eight in the CIS Open Qualifier. This prompted the higher ups at Na’Vi to look into a shake up.
In June, Na’Vi CEO Yevhen “HarisPilton” Zolotarov said that the entire Dota 2 roster—including the coach, analyst, and manager—were placed on the inactive list.
In that announcement, Zolotarov was very frank in saying that he wanted the organization to start fresh with a new team that either focused around one of their current players or an entirely new bunch.
“It is hard to predict which players have a chance to stay, but I will share my opinions,” Zolotarov said in June. “There is a very low possibility that more than one player will stay in the roster, because there is a desire to start over from a blank slate.”
That blank slate has almost been completed as the majority of the new team has been decided upon for the upcoming season. The only player kept from the I8 roster is Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek.
They brought in Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev—someone who has been with the team in different capacities since 2015—as the captain of this new team to replace Na’Vi legend Danil “Dendi” Ishutin.
The break had been rumored even before the inactive status was handed down at the end of June. And in September, Zolotaroc announced that Dendi would no longer be with Na’Vi, ending his eight years with the organization.
Contracts aren’t like they used to be for esports players. It used to be that players could just sign with other teams once they were released or quit an organization.
Now, the contracts that players sign resemble that of more traditional sports in that they’re under contract with the team until they’re in some way released, transferred, or bought out of their deals.
So while Dendi is still under contract with Na’Vi, he’s now exploring other opportunities.
Team Secret announced on Oct. 8 that Zheng “MidOne” Yeik Nai would be resting for the event and their captain, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, was calling in a friend for some help.
Without the player being revealed in the announcement, fans quickly pieced the meaning together. And yesterday, Secret confirmed that Dendi would be their stand-in for the Autumn Brawl Playoffs.
Puppey and Dendi played together on Na’Vi until Puppey left the organization in 2014, so this is a reunion fans have waited a long time for.
There are no talks of Dendi being released from his contract or transferred following this event, but it’s a way for a player who some think is past his prime to play in front of a large crowd with a good, established team.
Regardless, Dendi’s odd situation will see him play against his contract holders when Secret face Na’Vi on Friday, Oct. 12.