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eSports team Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) has come quite a long way since the first Dota 2 International Tournament, where they won the largest prize pool in eSports history – a the time – and the hearts of Dota 2 fans everywhere to boot. They ended up losing at the next International, coming in second place, but they haven't been truly competitive since.
Rock bottom was The Boston Major, where Na'Vi didn't receive a direct invite and failed to qualify through the open bracket. Na'Vi has gone through major roster shakeups in the past, but their performance in Boston led to rumors of Na'Vi disbanding its Dota 2 roster entirely – a thought that didn't seem out of the realm of possibilities, given the team's lack of success.
After failing to qualify for The Boston Major, Na'Vi then pulled out of Dream League Season 6, where they were scheduled to participate.
These rumors were put to bed earlier this week, when Na'Vi announced its new roster, returning Danil "Dendi" Ishutin and Vicktor "GeneRaL" Nigrini, and adding three new players, Per Anders Olsson "Pajkatt" Lille, Roman "rmN-" Paley and Malthe "Biver" Winther.
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The first opportunity for this new Na'Vi roster will be the at the Kiev Major in April, which will likely carry a prize-pool equal to the previous Dota 2 Majors – $3 million USD.
Each of the three new players signed 1-year deals, and, while that is basically the industry standard, what it really means is that Na'Vi will have another opportunity to evaluate their performance and the end of next year. Should they not come away with a victory at any of the larger tournaments this year, or at least show themselves to be competitive, expect the rumors to bubble up again around the late fall/early winter next year.
Even the director of Na'Vi, Yevgeniy Zolotarav, hit on this exact issue in his statement, if indirectly, saying "I also would like to say to our fans that both the organization and the players will make everything possible to bring you joy with great games and victories." Zolotarav knows that Na'Vi hasn't been winning like they're used to, obviously, and they also know that their losses have disappointed fans of the team enough to create this negative buzz whenever they perform poorly.
However, Na'Vi is safe for another year, it seems. Beyond that? We'll have to see.