As a consequence of poor results in some cases, and questionable business motivations in others, multiple Dota 2 teams from three of the world’s top regions have made important changes to their rosters or even dropped them completely.
Natus Vincere and Virtus.pro swapped players
At the beginning of February, Na’Vi and Virtus.pro agreed to make a trade in which Ilya ‘Lil’ Ilyuk, VP’s position 4 support player, and Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan, Na’Vi’s position 4 support player, have swapped teams.
From a gameplay perspective, this trade doesn’t make much sense because both Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere were doing just fine with their former rosters. Virtus.pro was sitting at number 3 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings and had won a Major this year, while Na’Vi was sitting at number 11 and was playing increasingly better.
As many people have speculated, the swap was most likely motivated by business reasons regardless of what the two teams declare on the surface. Both Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere are owned by the same holding company. And given Valve’s new TI qualification system, in which the top 8 teams are directly invited to The International based on the number of qualification points they’ve earned during the season, the trade between these two CIS teams makes perfect sense.
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. Subsequently, that team could potentially benefit a lot from his transfer. Long story short, Lil currently has 900 points as a player, while Na’Vi had 315 points combined before his transfer. Now it has 1100 and is sitting at number 5 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings.
In the short run, both Virtus.pro and Na’Vi will be weakened by this trade, simply because the new players have to be integrated in their new teams. Individually, Lil and RodjER are of roughly the same strength, but they will still need a fair amount of time in order to adapt to the new playstyles and strategies.
SoNNeikO leaves Natus Vincere
Soon after the “RodjER for Lil” trade was announced by Virtus.pro and Na’Vi, Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev (Na’Vi’s captain) decided to leave the team. This is a huge blow 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.
We’ll have to see what solution does Na’Vi come up with in the next few days, but regardless of the team’s choice, it will most likely weaken it as a result.
ddc leaves LGD.Forever Young, joins VGJ.Thunder
LGD.Forever Young was a huge revelation at The International 2017, where it crushed the opposition during the Group Stage and then went on to finish the tournament in 3rd place. Leong “ddc” Fat-meng was the team’s captain at the time and his contribution was vital for this huge success.
However, after the new competitive season began, FLY simply vanished and went from one disappointment to another. Ultimately, the organization decided to start making changes, the latest one being ddc’s transfer to VGJ.Thunder.
As a result of this move, FLY is simply done for and has little to no chance of qualifying for The International 2018, while VGJ.Thunder is likely to become one of the strongest teams in China.
VGJ.Storm dissolves its Dota 2 roster
Unfortunately for VGJ.Storm, the signing of Brian “BananaSlamJamma” Canavan and Jaron “monkeys-forever” Clinton at the start of this year did not lead to the level of success that they’d hoped for. As a result, the organization decided to completely dissolve their North American Dota 2 team and let everyone go.