Changes in Na'Vi roster come with big price

Dota 2 Cristy “Pandoradota2” Ramadani

Photo courtesy of Epicenter

Na'Vi has replaced Nikola "LeBronDota" Popović with Russian player Fedor “velheor” Rusikhin. Not only will the move cost the Ukrainian team any chances for a TI8 direct or regional invite, but they have also withdrawn from participating in ESL One Birmingham

Despite having 1199 points and being ranked 10 in the DPC, Na'Vi went ahead with a bold decision heading into the last month leading up to TI8 contention.

While it may seem shocking to many fans and the community, the change comes after a string of unsuccessful performances and the belief that hedging on the open qualifiers with a change in the lineup would produce better results. 

We've decided to replace the player now and withdraw from Birmingham, which was uncertain anyway due to visa issues. At the beginning of the next week we will gather for a short bootcamp in Kyiv, after which we'd go for a 1-week bootcamp in China for the full-fledged Supermajor preparation. Upon the return from China we would return to the training base in Kyiv again, and will be playing TI8 open qualifiers from there.
I would like to thank Nikola for the time and effort dedicated to the team. He is a great person and a teammate to work with. It might not be obvious to many, but he was contributing a lot to the team. However, we did not manage to get to mutual understanding between the support and core players. One could say LeBron sacrificed himself in this tough moment to save the team

Ilya 'Lil' Ilyuk will move into the position 5 role and the newest member will assume the fourth position. With the adjustments in roles and lineup, the team will not appear at ESL One Birmingham as originally planned next week, but will instead head to bootcamp for intense training and work for the TI8 open qualifiers scheduled to start in exactly one month —June 14th. 

ESL is now in the process of finalizing a replacement team and will announce soon.

It was only three months ago —on the heels of one of the most surprising roster shuffles of the season, that Na'Vi was hoping to put all the drama behind them and make a serious run for TI8 qualifying points in the second half of the season.  Finalizing their roster in enough time for the locks, the CIS team added longtime Serbian player LeBronDota who became the only non-Ukrainian player on the team. LeBronDota will return back to EPG, playing alongside former teammates once again.

Velheor has played over the last season for various Tier 2 Russian based teams such as SFT-esports, Cascade and Suicide Team.

Na'Vi Roster:
Ukraine Vladislav 'Crystallize' Krystanek
Ukraine Danil 'Dendi' Ishutin
Ukraine Viktor 'GeneRaL' Nigrini
Ukraine Ilya 'Lil' Ilyuk
Russia Fedor “velheor” Rusikhin


Do you think this was a wise move?

Yes, I agree with it!
Thank you for voting!
No way, this is stupid
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Cristy “Pandoradota2” Ramadani
Pandora is a behind the scenes Dota 2 professional Jack of All Trades. When not busy with Dota 2 work, she is out trying to save the world or baking cupcakes. Follow her on Twitter @pandoradota2


  • Johny "Shaze" Shaze ,
    It was necessary. If you don't see any improvement, someone has to go. Lil needs to be the captain now and everyone else, especially Dendi has to focus on his play in the game and trust Lil to make game making or losing decisions.
  • Michael "Dovv" Bryant ,
    For me this move was unnecessary, They did a good job at Epicenter. The lost they've suffered vs OG and Pain were merely coz of drafting. To me they have improved a lot, i hope this move is the right choice even tho i dont agree with it. .lul
  • James "Yared" A ,
    We know how bloody the qualifiers can get. Now they will have to play under real pressure. At least they have a chance to prove fans their grit.


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