Natus Vincere managed to keep the StarLadder StarSeries trophy away from Team Secret with a 3:1 win, securing their first championship title in two years. With The International 6 on the horizon, Natus Vincere fans should draw cautious optimism. They would be wrong to believe the path from here to renewed success is straightforward, but they can rest assured that Na’Vi seems eager to start marching down it.
The last test for several teams before The International 6, StarLadder StarSeries has generated its share of headline-making news and has definitely grabbed the Dota 2 community’s attention.
The microscope was set to granular. Every single play was scrutinized. Patterns were identified, conclusions were drawn.
While it has definitely been a fun tournament to watch, StarLadder StarSeries is weak sauce compared to The International 6 excitement that awaits around the August corner.
Up until the Grand Finals, StarSeries had been gradually building toward an almighty high.
Sunday’s Grand Finals have been billed as a battle between Puppey and Dendi, as the two former Natus Vincere teammates looked to lead their respective teams into winning the last championship title before TI6.
Team Secret have had the upper hand against Na’Vi in recent times and were regarded as firm favorites. However, the StarSeries Grand Finals saw Na’Vi come back into things, winning their first title in two years and taking an important confidence boost right before The International 6.
Na’Vi returns to winning ways
Na’Vi got their StarSeries run off to a winning start by defeating Fnatic, 2:1, in the quarterfinals. They continued to be sharp and dangerous in the semifinals, where they stunned Evil Geniuses with a clean 2:0 sweep. Team Secret put an end to Na’Vi’s Upper Bracket run in the Winners’ Finals. Showing a refreshing willingness to prevail, Natus Vincere eliminated Fnatic in the Lower Brackets Finals, 2:0, and secured a spot in the StarSeries Grand Finals, to face Team Secret once again.
In the Grand Finals, Na’Vi won and did so despite falling behind. They dropped the first game, but came back to claim the next two and then secured the third one in under 20 minutes. They seemed well organised and honed by rigorous preparation, they showed good pace and incisiveness – all promising glimpses as far as their upcoming TI6 journey is concerned.
Apart from that, the biggest revelation to come out of StarLadder StarSeries for Na’Vi is that they have finally found the right attitude: a good mentality and the killer instinct to win matches.
After a lengthy drought of achievement, Na’Vi seem to be fired by a burning desire to return to winning ways. The re-establishment of their reputation as a Dota 2 powerhouse is a main talking point. They longed to be feared again, to be deemed favorites and not the underdog.
Dendi’s loyalty to the Ukrainian organization has certainly earned a brow lift or two, in the past. Like a wounded lion, Dendi accepted Na’Vi’s fate, faced reality and helped build a lineup for a brighter future.
Na’Vi is a rare breed among Dota 2 organizations. They do not pluck the best players from other teams – they create their own. After two years of struggles, their plans are coming to fruition. After all, great things are often achieved on the back of big struggles.
With a proper team spirit, one of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases out there and talented players, Na’Vi have three major assets. However bright the future might seem for Natus Vincere now, this renewed winning mentality is not enough. In order for them to go several steps further and have a real chance at TI6 glory, Na’Vi need to stay grounded and focus on continued improvement.
Natus Vincere fans will have been heartened by the team’s performance at StarSeries. The International 6 is a whole different environment, however, and the danger of jumping to conclusions must be avoided. It will take Na’Vi more than they managed to do at StarSeries to get their feet properly under the table, but, at last, a start has been made after two years of waiting.
Their StarLadder StarSeries win doesn’t mean Na’Vi are the best team going into The International 6. There are plenty of things that could go their way and a lot of others that could go against them in Seattle.
Team Secret has more reasons to be optimistic than pessimistic
Millions of Terabytes have been devoted to chronicling Team Secret’s every move – their unorthodox ways of plucking other teams’ brightest players when least expected, their seemingly inflated egos, their rises, their falls, and their rises again. So, I’ll make this brief: let the StarSeries Grand Finals be yet another reminder that whatever pedigree a team may have, at kickoff, it’s 5 vs. 5 and anything can happen.
Team Secret had a nearly flawless run at StarLadder StarSeries, only to collapse in front of Na’Vi, in the Grand Finals. They missed several chances and were made to pay. On any other day, the title could very well have been theirs.
Thankfully, Secret’s players know a thing or two about bouncing back to reach the top. This rather unexpected loss to Na’Vi in the StarSeries Grand Finals could spur them on and turn out to be the platform for future successes at TI6.
For now, Team Secret has more reasons to be optimistic than pessimistic. Nonetheless, they need to look closely at the mistakes they made during this tournament. They surely don’t want to make the same mistakes in Seattle. They won’t have time to be hungover from the StarLadder defeat.
In order to claim The International 6 title, Secret will have to show more than they did during StarSeries and prove that they can last the distance. Their defeat at the hands of Natus Vincere in the StarSeries Grand Finals should not be in any way regarded as a death knell for their claim of supremacy at The International 6.