Natus Vincere are a team filled with a rich history but it has been some time since the name “Na’Vi” has echoed through a stadium in the ferocity which it once was. That said, The International 2019 is a stage that could see the CIS squad battle their way beyond a rough season and come out ahead – but that’s only if the lower bracket crawl is something they can do. We had a chance to have a brief chat with Andrey ‘Mag’ Chipenko, coach of Na’Vi and once a player for the famed squad in their DotA days.
Hi Mag, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Obviously this is The International, so I must say congratulations on reaching the playoffs. But, let’s first talk about yourself and Na’Vi in general. You have been a part of Na’Vi since DotA days and since then have moved to many other squads to play. Last year you returned to the organization in the coaching capacity. Do you feel that there is a lot of pressure on you joining or do you actually feel that it is more uplifting being back here?
Well, I like Na’Vi as a club. As you said, looking at history, I was there with Na’Vi from the old days and played with some of the big names back then. For me, it is really special being back here and I feel no pressure at all because we may have history as an organization but this is a completely new roster and we want to create our own history with this club. I am so glad that I get a chance to be coach here.
That’s fantastic to hear. So, now lets move on to the DPC season and things relating to that. It has not been a great time for the team through the season, but you’ve powered through – how has it been coaching this team and reaching TI in the first place?
It feels amazing because we have had a lot of difficulties this season. We had many ups and downs, attending only a single Major and struggling to perform there and we were eliminated in the first round. In the end though, we were quite sure we could do it.
Could you talk to me a little bit then about the path to reaching TI? As you’ve said, there were many highs and lows and CIS is never an easy region either.
We definitely got here the hard way. We expected teams like Gambit and Winstrike to be our main opposition during the qualifiers, but as we all saw it was Vega Squadron who came out looking unexpectedly the strongest. They even beat us early on in the upper bracket of playoffs there but we managed to go through the lower bracket. We had to play them again in the loser’s bracket in a very hard series but we did it.
Na’Vi had a roster change earlier this year which saw Bakyt ‘Zayac’ Emilzhanov joining the team. How has this change impacted the squad; does he fit the entire dynamic?
We made only the one roster change this season and Zayac feels really good for us. At that moment he was very good at his position and he has adapted his heroes to our pool. This roster has a lot of beyond talented players and he has filled in perfectly and given a lot to help in our success.
It definitely shows. The team seems much more cohesive now and it is very enjoyable to watch all of them play – but I must ask about one of my favourite Na’Vi players currently, Vladislav ‘Crystallize’ Krystanek. We’ve seen a lot of different hero picks come out from him so far – Morphling, Alchemist and even Bloodseeker. Does the draft revolve a lot around him or does the team decide as a whole what is better for the game?
So it is all about his comfort heroes and the team’s confident heroes. He can play the heroes that sit back and farm a lot such as Alch or Morph, like you mentioned but he is also really strong with many active heroes. However, we’ve not played those a lot, especially with having such great games with Alchemist for him.
Is this something that the team have been practicing a lot? Such as different heroes or playstyles for some of he players?
Yes, definitely. We’ve had Idan ‘MagicaL’ Vardanian playing some space-creating heroes such as the Razor which is why you see Crystallize on more carry-heavy heroes.
Let’s discuss the main event now. You guys did make it through group stages, but now unfortunately are face a daunting lower bracket best-of-one. How do you feel going into the lower bracket after a very tight race?
We’re a bit upset, it was very close between so many teams and just one win or two more could have got us into upper bracket – but we let it go. We started very well, we peaked early; while teams like Evil Geniuses and Virtus.pro, they started a bit weaker but built up. We are no strangers to lower bracket and it is fine for us.
You have Mineski in your first game of the lower bracket, a team that also have looked very shaky this season – how do you feel about this opponent?
I think that we feel really lucky that we got Mineski as our opponent, it actually could be the best team we could have got for a best-of-one. I just hope that we can play our own game. I feel everything will be alright because we played a lot of scrims against Mineski so we’re feeling very confident.
Thank you so much for your time here, Mag. It has been a pleasure talking to you and we wish you the best of luck in TI9. We are sure that the Na’Vi chants will ring through the stadium once again soon. Lastly, do you have any shoutouts that you’d like to give?
I want to say thanks to all of our fans around the world for supporting us through hard times. Thanks to the club and our sponsors for giving us all we need to get here.