There are just two CIS teams coming this year at The International. One is Virtus.pro, the top team in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings and the other one is Winstrike, perhaps better known by the fans as FlyToMoon.
Winstrike are a new competitor on the CIS scene. They formed in the last official shuffle ahead of TI8, on 5th of February. They had no sponsor, no team house, no possibility to gather in a bootcamp. The first time the five FTM players got to play next to each other was back in April at StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5, event where they finished top six. From there on, they simply dominated in their region and claimed the only one spot available for CIS at The International 2018 qualifiers.
Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko is one of the minds behind FTM’s creation. As he told StarLadder in April, he formed the team because he didn’t get invited to any squad and he didn’t want to miss the whole season just because no one found him good enough. Iceberg is one of the young talents in the competitive field and, although he is not completely unknown to any Dota 2 fan, he has never been to an International before.
He made his debut only two years back, with Duza Gaming, but his ascension was lightning fast as he proved to be a very skilled mid-laner. In the second part of 2015 Iceberg joined CIS Rejects, a team where the carry was none other than Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev. Later on, the full roster was signed by Team Spirit and the two youngsters got to play at their first ever Valve sponsored event. It was the infamous Shanghai Major, where Rmazes’s keyboard got lost among a lot more controversial things that happened at that tournament.
While Ramzes had a clear path to the top of the Dota 2 rankings; CIS Rejects –Team Spirit—Team Empire—Virtus.pro, Iceberg had to fight more. Some are tempted to say that Iceberg is a difficult person to work with. He definitely has a different personality than Ramzes, but he is by no means less driven to succeed, nor less talented. Through his short two years career, Iceberg has been invited, more often than not, to join an already formed team. He was in most of the cases the fourth player joining and in that regard, as himself once said, he found it hard to speak out his mind, to give suggestions, to bring his own ideas to the table.
Asked at StarLadder why he chose to form a new team so late in the season he bluntly said: “It was desperation. I didn’t want to waste the season, so I wanted to find players I can play with.”
Seems like his instinct worked perfectly as by the end of the season FTM climbed the ladder to the point where they have even defeated Virtus.pro, on the big stage of EPICENTER XL. As most of the mid-laners, Iceberg is a flashy player, he excels on heroes like Lina, Mirana, Leshrac, Tinker, Windranger or Ember Spirit. He is also not afraid to hook a win with Pudge when the draft allows it. He’s done it twice in the TI8 qualifiers, which speaks volumes about his confidence and about what this player can achieve when the whole team fully believes in him and lets him play the game the way he wants.
Iceberg is joined in his quest to conquer the biggest event of the year by one who can be regarded as a CIS veteran, but who, despite his long-standing career, never got to attend an International before.
Alexander “NoFear” Churochkin has been professionally playing since the beginning of 2012 and he’s been fighting for a spot at The International for the past six years.
Through his career, NoFear played for some of the top CIS organizations, including Team Empire, Vega Squadron and Virtus.pro. Some say that he’s been one of the players who got beyond unlucky. Somehow, NoFear managed to be dropped from the teams he played for, just before TI qualifiers. He played just three times in the regional qualifiers for a TI. Once in 2016, with Virtus.pro’s roster at that time and he was eliminated in the group stage. Once last year with Cyber Anji, but he also got eliminated in the group stage. The third time was a charm and he will fight at The International 2018 with Winstrike.
His hero pool is extremely vast, which makes sense for a player who has been around for such a long time. Since 5th of February, when FTM/Winstrike was formed, until now, he played 23 different heroes. From Kunkka, Earth Spirit and Clockwerk, to Chen, Enchantress or Leshrac, NoFear proved times and times again that he can adapt to whatever his team needs. Be it a ganking oriented strategy or a heavy pushing one, he acts accordingly and he is one of the important factors in Winstrike’s team fights. It was his coordination with Iceberg that got a couple of top-tier teams in troubles at EPICENTER XL. His Chen coupled with Windranger, played either mid or Support, got Winstrike to the 3rd place at Moscow’s first-ever Dota2 Major. After they defeated VP, NoFear said in an interview with joinDota that the CIS giants didn’t respect their Chen. VP allowed FTM to pick both Chen and Leshrac in game one, while game two was won with the same amplified magic start but with the Leshrac-Ancient Apparition combo.
NoFear’s top played heroes since February until now:
|Heroes||Games in Total||Wins||Win Rate|
Chen is one of NoFear’s top three most played heroes all times, followed by Dazzle. But, his favorite seems to be Earth Spirit on which he boasts a 60,66% win rate from 61 official games played on the hero.
Winstrike will come this August to The international with three players who will make their debut at Valve’s annual event. The third one is Alexey “nongrata” Vasilev, a young offlaner who made his entrance into the competitive scene less than two years ago.
Nongrata’s first team was Chew Toy, for which he played for about six months before he was recruited by Double Dimension. With DD he passed the open qualifiers for Valve’s Kiev Major. However, the team didn’t make it out from regionals and his stint with Double Dimension lasted just a few months. He then moved to Effect, where he played for about one month. Before he was contacted by the Winstrike boys, Nongrata bounced between a few CIS stacks, but with no success. The start of the 2017-2018 Dota Pro Circuit season found him at M19 where he was playing with NoFear as a temporary standins. The two fought with M19 for a spot in the Bucharest Major and ESL One Birmingham qualifiers but with no avail.
Since the formation of Winstrike Nongrata played a total of 82 official matches with the team and has an overall win rate of 65,85%. His most played heroes are Doom, Clockwerk, Beatmaster Sand King and Night Stalker. However, his hero pool is much bigger and what seems to be a common ground between all his heroes,it is the need for action. He would often be seen playing heroes that excel at initiation, like Batrider, Puck or Nyx.
Nongrata, as all his teammates, is young and he is extremely dedicated to the common goal. Until TI8, Winstrike’s declared goal was to become the second-best team in CIS. When they were asked why they settled for second best team instead of aiming at being the best team, Iceberg said: “We set gradual tasks. After we achieve this one we can think about being the first”. With VP absolutely dominating the whole scene, second in CIS seemed a pretty fair target for Winstrike. The International 2018 is the place where they can go to the next level.