NaVi punishes Gambit ahead of WePlay AniMajor 2021

There are two impostors in AS Monaco Gambit, or so they say. Gambit was looking forward to playing at the WePlay AniMajor next week, but with two players kicking the bucket it’s looking grim for these boys.

For starters, the CIS team has much to blame on Natus Vincere for the fiasco they are in.

Navi dota roster

Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev

Navi Dota 2 poaches two players days before the Major

Natus Vincere welcomes Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko and Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev to join their line-up. In the official announcement, Natus Vincere addressed their concerns about their miserable performance at the Dota Pro Circuit 2021 (DPC 2021). The CIS powerhouse placed sixth at ESL One EEU S2, which is embarrassing, considering they were first runner-up last season.

Most fans probably have no issue with Navi’s roster change. After all, qualifying for the International 10 (TI10) is top priority for any team. However, the decision was more disruptive than your typical roster shuffle per se. Because both players were from Gambit’s active line-up, a team that qualified the WePlay AniMajor.

This is one of the more blatant casees of player poaching, in a region that is regularly hailed as the most notorious for the practice.

AS Monaco Gambit and DPC rankings

Besides screwing up Gambit’s probability of success, the move also forced them to take DPC points deduction for the players’ departure. As per DPC rules, changing a player will deduct a percentage of the team’s overall points. And since there are two players out of the team, Gambit’s DPC scores decreased from 370 to 267.33 points.

While it was possible for Gambit to theoretically win the Major and earn a direct invite to TI10, even those chances have now evaporated.

In Navi’s defense, they claimed that SoNNeikO is not planning to play the major with his former team anyways since he doesn’t believe they will make the cut. Whereas, No[o]ne already had intentions of joining Navi prior to the entire shenanigans, presumably due to Gambit’s poor showing at the Singapore Major.

Interestingly, Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev has left and rejoined NaVi’s active roster at least four times. Him and Artour “Arteezy” Babaev are seemingly developing a battle for “most rejoins in a Dota 2 team”, and SoNNeikO just took the lead.

With Dota 2 odds stacked against Gambit, they need nothing short of a miracle to pull off success at the WePlay AniMajor. On the flip side, their confirmed substitutes, Stanislav “633” Glushan and Artem “Lorenof” Melnick could be their saving grace. Both players performed decent this season and could potentially salvage Gambit’s chances. If not at the Major in a regional revenge match against NaVi.

Whats up with poaching and the CIS region

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time such cases of player poaching have occurred in the CIS region. Last year, was called out by Navi for poaching Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov using ‘grey areas’ in his contract. While we don’t know the actual outcome after the spicy CIS drama, it’s clear that there is some unhealthy rivalry among CIS powerhouses.

Now, many fans argued that there’s nothing wrong with players leaving a team if they are supportive of the decision. As Navi shared under the pretense of a common goal to qualify for TI10. Yet, we raise our pitchforks against teams that kick their player, worse yet right before a tournament.

Dendi himself has previously accused VP of poaching as well, once Cooman was stolen from his B8 roster a year ago.

Perhaps the root cause of the situation is the unsustainable CIS Dota 2 scene, when compared to its European and Chinese counterparts. CIS players who just debuted their pro career are in dire need of stable income, and oftentimes, only powerhouses can provide that. Hence, it’s a no-brainer to transfer from your mediocre squad to an esports giant without hesitation.

Nevertheless, Gambit has much to deal with, considering they only have less than a week before the WePlay AniMajor. At the end of the day, there’s always a bigger fish in the sea, and it’s Navi’s turn to return the favor. We bid Gambit the best of luck in their endeavor, and also will be looking forward to seeing the stand-ins deliver.