The best CIS Dota 2 teams battled it out in the region’s qualifiers for The International 10, and it was closer for comfort than everybody expected.
If there’s anything to be said about the Eastern European side of Dota 2, it’s that you can always expect a good fight from almost any professional team. The recently wrapped-up qualifier for that single TI10 spot proved this, as almost all of the later games went the distance with each team taking a game at least, and the Grand Finals just showcasing how close things are in terms of the skill and perseverance of the the CIS region teams.
With all of that in mind, let’s go through the many highlights of the TI10 Eastern Europe Qualifiers, a proving ground of an event that’s both filled with many joys and heartbreaks.
Dendi dropping early
It has not been a good few years for Danil “Dendi” Ishutin, the legendary Pudge player and CIS region icon of Dota 2. His new team, B8, dropped out early in the Eastern Europe Qualifiers, marking TI10 the fourth iteration of Valve’s most prestigious tournament that the ex-Natus Vincere player will not be participating in.
Things looked promising at first for the newly formed team in their first qualifier, even if they were starting that run in the lower bracket due to B8 placing 6th overall in the Lower Division of the region. Dendi and co. manage to beat NoTechies two games to nil, with Dendi paving the way for rising CIS star Alimzhan “watson” Islambekov, who plays position 1.
Their next match, however, proved to be their last in the qualifiers, as Dendi and B8 faced off against Andrii “Ghostik” Kadyk and Team Unique. Ghostik was a former member of the B8 squad, right before he was moved to the inactive side of the roster in the latter part of last year. Despite putting up a fight in the second game, B8 is defeated two games to nil by the fourth place team in the Upper Division of CIS.
All things considered, while it’s indisputable that Dendi has reached past his prime, B8 may yet have a shot in the future alongside the other Lower Division CIS teams thanks to the amount of young talent brimming in the region.
Karma strikes back at Na’Vi
Na’Vi’s case at the qualifiers is the classic example of why it’s good to sometimes get with the new and out with the old. The team cemented themselves as one of the absolute top dogs in their region thanks to the acquisition of the old FlyToMoon roster consisting of relatively young players, including position 1 Alik “V-Tune” Vorobey, mid-laner Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko, off-laner Viktor “GeneRaL” Nigrini, soft support Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan and hard support Andrii “ALWAYSWANNAFLY” Bondarenko. This version of Na’Vi looked especially promising earlier this year during Season 1 of the DPC, placing second in the Upper Division.
Despite that prestigious standing, the team saw a major roster change in the form of GeneRaL’s move to the inactive roster, with Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev replacing him in the role of offlaner. A month later and after a markedly worse showing during Season 2 of the DPC, Iceberg and ALWAYSWANNAFLY are kicked, with Volodomyr “No[o]one” Minenko and Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev replacing them, respectively. The move was seen by some as unexpected and disappointing, as it was mostly interpreted as RAMZES666 filling out the team with close friends and comrades from the old Virtus.pro and Na’Vi rosters.
It was not long until these roster changes came back to haunt them, however. Despite a strong performance against EXTREMUM in their first upper bracket match, Na’Vi fell to HellRaisers in their second match, two games to one. It was one of the first big upsets of the qualifiers, and it would not be the last; a number of Upper Division teams like AS Monaco Gambit, Team Unique and EXTREMUM fell to their opponents in the Lower Division during their lower bracket matches.
Na’Vi ended their run in the qualifiers against Team Empire, a Lower Division team that defied all odds to defeat most of their Upper Division opponents and move on to the Grand Finals. The Na’Vi vs. Team Empire matches were also hyped because of RAMZES666’s comments against Team Empire’s hard support Ivan “VANSKOR” Skorokhod, and the 2-1 win was seen as karmic retribution for the once-dominant team.
Team Spirit victorious, but not uncontested
While favorites to win the final CIS slot, Team Spirit went into the Eastern Europe Qualifiers knowing that it would be the biggest test to their team yet. After two swift victories against Winstrike Team and PuckChamp, the team faced their first massive hurdle in the form of HellRaisers, the CIS Lower Division kings and fresh from their confident victory against Na’Vi. Following a brutal three-game match, Team Spirit just barely managed to eke out a win to send HellRaisers to the lower bracket (to be defeated by Team Empire shortly after) and continue on to the Grand Final.
The Grand Final was a true show of tenacity from both Team Spirit and Team Empire, who also went their entire lower bracket run without any defeats from the start. The game went on for five full games of classic CIS Dota 2, filled with tips, voice lines, and an amazing amount of heart. In the end, Team Spirit proved victorious due in large part to their incredibly diverse hero pools; a Reddit post shows that the team picked 21 unique heroes during the Grand Finals alone, a showcase of their insane drafting skills and ability to play different kinds of games for different enemies.
With this victory, Team Spirit has secured the final Eastern European slot at The International 10. They will be playing in Dota 2’s biggest stage alongside Virtus.pro, the other Eastern European contender, and 16 other teams from different regions this August 5 to 15th, although the question of where is still up in the air.