With Natus Vincere finally returning to The International stage after a two-year absence, Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov, Na’Vi’s position four support known for his unorthodox hero pool, is raring to go.
Zayac is the newest addition to a new-look Na’Vi squad hungry for success. Despite the organization’s previous pedigree as holders of the Aegis of Champions, Zayac will be heading to the main stage for the first time in his life.
As a position four with rapidly-rising stock, Zayac addressed his prowess in the TI CIS Qualifiers during an official Na’Vi AMA. A fan asked about his individual performance overshadowing the team’s, but Zayac replied humbly. Despite saying that there’s “truth in this,” he believes he was “overhyped in these qualifiers.”
Contrary to his answer, even pro teams were wary of his unconventional hero pool. His signature heroes, Techies and Nyx Assassin, were banned by numerous teams throughout the qualifiers. Both heroes are known for being extremely obnoxious, with Nyx being one of the few supports in the game with an invisibility spell and an annoying counter-stun mechanic, while Techies’ obsession with gunpowder and tendency to prolong the game is simply the worst.
Zayac believes that his Techies was so feared because “it is just inconvenient to play against the hero, and the opponents did not want to risk it.” Considering Techies’ explosive skillset and the constant need to play around it, the rising star clearly understands the hero’s strengths and weaknesses.
With Na’Vi’s two-year absence from TI, diehard fans were clearly anxious about the team’s chances this year. Zayac admits that team preparation is a big factor, but he’s set his personal goal as “no less than the top 8.”
Given Na’Vi’s history on the International stage, fans do have cause for concern. The organization was one of the earliest dynasties in Dota 2, winning the first International and achieving runner-up status twice in the following two years.
Led by the former face of the game, Danil “Dendi” Ishutin, and legendary captain Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, Na’Vi were a dominant force in the early years before fading into irrelevance. A brief revival in 2016 led to them falling short at TI6, obtaining dead last, and they haven’t played at the International since then.
With Zayac’s frightful hero pool and stellar position four play leading the charge, Na’Vi might be able to recapture their TI magic once again. The ninth edition of The International starts on Aug. 15.