Since having been promoted to the Pro League and signed by Natus Vincere, the UK-based Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) roster has been a powerhouse in the European (EU) scene.
Despite finishing at the top of the EU standings in Season 10 of the Pro League, Na'Vi had a difficult top-flight debut as Jack “Doki” Robertson was given a six-month ban for toxic behaviour. As a result, he had been barred from the final few games of the season, the Pro League Finals -- which the team eventually won -- and the Six Invitational 2020.
“I am excited to participate again in an offline event and show what we can do, it’s been two years,” started Doki. “Meanwhile, I was on the sidelines, helping the coaching staff and the players”.
With Na'Vi set to appear at the Mexico Major, next week is going to be Doki’s first international LAN appearance since DreamHack Valencia 2019. But the time away from the global stage has not added “any pressure at all” for him.
“At the end of the day I will be playing the same game. I do not have to prove anything to the viewers, just to myself,” said the Scotsman.
Despite Doki's return to play, Na’Vi’s 2020 campaign was dicey. The team ended both stages of the European League (EUL) in fifth place, earning a combined amount of 450 SI Points -- just outside the 16 SI-qualification spots in the Global Standings.
Later on in the year, the surging Mkers roster beat Na'Vi to the final European spot at the Invitational, which was followed by a fourth place at the European League Finals to cap off a tough season.
“We had a lot of issues going on, so it was expected,” explained Doki. Something had to change. We replaced [Kendrew] and [Joe], two very difficult decisions, however we were doing what we felt to be the right thing.”
Coming in to fill those spots were the signings of Nathan “Nathan” Sharp and Rickard “Secretly” Olofsson.
“We added Secretly and Nathan and we feel like both of them fit,” Doki said of the changes. Secretly is a very experienced player although he had never been part of a successful squad before, while Nathan lacks of experience but his flexibility was something that we needed. They have been helping us a lot.”
Natus Vincere’s renovated roster completely dominated the EU region from Day 1, finishing Stage 1 of the 2021 EUL in first place. Its only losses had been come against G2 Esports on the very last play day (2-7) and an overtime loss to Vitality (6-8).
Doki and Blurr had been fifth and second-highest rated in Stage 1 and kept that form going in Stage 2, finishing the stage rated third and fifth-highest, respectively.
“Although I am the entry fragger, the role changes depending on the maps and other stuff”, explained Doki. “However I usually take that role, I clear utility and bring soft destruction, which allows me to rely on my teammates to hard-support. I am super confident in myself but that is probably because I trust on my teammates.”
The final play day of Stage 2 of the EUL saw Na’Vi overtake BDS Esport for third place in the standings after a 7-3 victory over the Frenchmen. Now, the UKIN-majority side heads to Mexico at the top of the combined EUL standings.
“We really like playing BDS, we feel really confident when we play against them,” explained Doki. “That win meant a lot, although we did not need it because the Vitality loss against Secret meant that we would travel to Mexico. But we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could go to Mexico without needing to rely on other teams’ results.”
In order to make it through the group stage, Na’Vi will have to play in the only group with three teams, as the Knights were unable to travel due to Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions.
But the reduced teams will not reduce any of the pressure in Group B. Natus Vincere will have to face an old-rival, Spacestation Gaming, after both sides met at the Six Invitational 2020. On that occasion, the American roster had won 2-1, but the Europeans ended up as only one of three teams to take a map against the eventual champion.
Their third team in the group will be FURIA Esports, a team that has been quietly making waves in Brazil. Surprisingly, this will be Na’Vi’s first time facing a LATAM team and it comes at a time when the Brazilians are perceived to be dominating the meta.
“Spacestation Gaming are one of the best sides in the world right now, you have to give the credit where it’s due,” said Doki when asked about his team's Group B rivals. “FURIA have some young players that land their shots. However, we are focusing on ourselves and on our own mistakes.”
Catch Na’Vi in the Six Mexico Major opening game against SSG, set to be played on the Rainbow6Bravo Twitch channel on the 16th of August at 10 AM CDT (UTC-5).