TI6: the Rise of Navi?

Navi vs Team Secret in the final game of SLS2 (youtube screencap)
Navi vs Team Secret in the final game of SLS2 (youtube screencap) /
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Recent Victories, High Hopes

The grand finals of StarSeries S2

With Navi’s performance as strong as its been the past few tournaments, I think they’ve joined the ranks of the top contenders at TI6. I’ll concede that they’re still something of a dark horse. But the big question in my mind is whether their team cohesion and current strategy is going to be strong enough to make up for the weaknesses exploited by Liquid and OG in the past.

Boris and Natasha say were always full of wisdom.
Boris and Natasha say were always full of wisdom. /

To give you an idea of what you might see from Navi at TI6, I’ve put together a short description of their grand finals match with Secret at StarSeries S2, each accompanied by a highlight reel.

Game 1

In this game we saw gameplay from Secret that was truly impressive. Following this game, many analysts and announcers didn’t seem too hopeful for Navi’s chances. Secret had excellent teamplay, a strong overall strategy, and impressive individual plays that didn’t leave Navi much opportunity for a win.

I remember cringing to myself when one of the casters mentioned that Navi looked shaken following the match. I’ve been somewhat hopeful that this year would be kinder to them, and after this game concluded, I found myself doubting Navi as well.

Game 2

Dendi’s Invoker this game was truly spectacular. He struggled somewhat in mid against Arteezy (Ursa), but he didn’t let this impact his overall farm. Dendi’s exceptional timing and all-around beefiness allowed Navi to survive the pressure Secret was applying through mid-game. This gave teammate Ditya Ra (Terrorblade) enough space to snowball the late-game in their favor for a comeback win.

Game 3

The morale boost from the previous game was noticeable from the start in Navi. They couldn’t seem to stop Secret from sniping a few of their heroes for early game kills, but in mid- and late-game saw Secret heroes drop en masse, giving Navi more than enough breathing room to press their advantage. As a sidenote, Secret seemed to be having timing issues at this point in the series, suffering late-game from a lineup less suited to longer games.

Game 4

Navi, riding the wave of their previous two victories, finishes out this series victorious against Team Secret. Whether due to low morale or inferior play, Secret just couldn’t stop Navi. They only managed 4 kills this match to Navi’s 14. Navi did not relinquish their advantage for a single second. They kept the pressure on until the very end of the game.

Congratulations, Navi! Let’s see what you can do

After so many close calls and what Dendi referred to in a tweet as the “grand finals curse,” it’s encouraging to see them pull through with a win. I’ve seen some harshness over Navi’s invite to TI6, and honestly I don’t understand it. I get the whole team rivalry thing, but after standing the test of time in the turbulent environment that is pro-DOTA, I think they’ve earned it.

Don’t you?

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