Big Dota 2 Roster Changes in the CIS Region
Due to unclear reasons, two very powerful Dota 2 organizations from the CIS region (namely Natus Vincere and Virtus.pro) have recently made important changes to their rosters.
At the beginning of February, Na’Vi and Virtus.pro agreed upon a trade in which Ilya ‘Lil’ Ilyuk, Virtus.Pro’s position 4 support player, and Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan, Na’Vi’s position 4 support player, have swapped teams.
From a competitive perspective, the trade doesn’t make a lot of sense because both Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere were doing just fine with their former rosters. Virtus.pro was the 3rd placed team in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings and had won a Major this season (ESL One Hamburg 2017), while Na’Vi was sitting at number 11 and was playing excellent Dota.
Many people speculate that the swap was most likely motivated by business reasons regardless of what the two teams say to their fans. Both Natus Vincere and Virtus.pro belong to the same holding company, and Valve’s new qualification system for The International creates a unique opportunity given the circumstances.
What I mean is this: in the new TI qualification system, the top 8 teams in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings are directly invited to The International based on the number of qualification points they’ve earned during the season. A team’s qualification points are obtained by summating the number of points owned by its top three players. Furthermore, when a player moves to a different team, he takes his points with him. As a result, the receiving team (the buyer) could potentially benefit a lot from his transfer.
Now consider this: Lil currently has 900 points as a player, while Na’Vi had 315 points combined before his transfer. After Lil’s transfer, Na’Vi immediately jumped to 1110 points and is currently sitting at number 5 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings.
In the short run, both Virtus.pro and Na’Vi will have to work hard in order to integrate the new players in their system of play and not fall victim to lesser teams with better coordination. Individually, Lil and RodjER are both very strong players, although it is generally believed that RodjER is a considerably better roamer than Lil.
Unlike Virtus.pro, Na’Vi has an additional problem to solve. Soon after the “RodjER for Lil” trade was announced by the two organizations, Na’Vi’s captain (Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev) left the team. This was a big setback for Na’Vi, as there are very few free agents that can also be captains and play in a CIS team. Most players from CIS teams are either Russian or Ukrainian and speak their respective languages instead of English.
Na’Vi’s solution to this problem was to bring in a Serbian player who had played as a stand-in for them before: Nikola “LeBronDota” Popovic. He will play as position 5 support while Lil will become the team’s new captain.
It remains to be seen how these two CIS teams will fare against the opposition with their new rosters. The first real test for them will be the ESL One Katowice 2018 Major.