The creation of the CIS division, which was previously a part of the greater European region, for the Kiev Major has only stoked the flames of an already fiercely competitive scene. With just one invite spot for the entire CIS region, the qualifier playoffs began Sunday featuring four familiar teams; Virtus.pro, Team Spirit, Team Empire and Na'Vi, all vying for the chance to be the defacto home team at the Kiev Major.
The clear frontrunner in this list was Virtus.pro, with its 9-0 record during the round robin stage serving only to reinforce this truth. Virtus.pro enjoyed the quickest route to the grand finals, despite both of its series wins beforehand going the full three-game length. After a disappointing 5th-8th place finish at the Boston Major and a subsequent balance patch, Virtus.pro has struggled to regain its momentum , finishing in 5th-6th place at Dota Pit Season 5 after a 3rd-4th place finish at ESL One Genting.
Its opponent in the Grand Finals, Natus Vincere, was one it had seen before. After losing to Virtus.pro in the opening playoff match, Na'Vi battled all the way through the lower bracket to set up a rematch in the Grand Finals. Na'Vi easily bested Team Spirit in the first round of the lower bracket, avenging their previous round robin loss. Their next series against Team Empire was more of a struggle. With their backs against the wall following a Game 1 loss, an excellent performance by Victor "GeneRaL" Nigrini on Batrider in Game 2 and solid teamwork in Game 3 carried Na'Vi through to the Grand Finals for their second-chance matchup against Virtus.pro.
The Grand Final matchup between Na'Vi and Virtus.pro was a letdown compared to the previous pair of high-intensity series. This was Na'Vi's third best-of-three of the day, and would have been a tough series for them regardless of their opponent. The fact that it was Virtus.pro just made it worse. Neither of the two games were close, clocking in at just over 50 minutes of total game time. After defeating Na'Vi for the third time in as many days, Virtus.pro has shown that they are clearly the best team in the CIS region, but their recent appearances against international competition does not inspire much confidence. The Kiev Major will be a huge test for Virtus.pro, and determine if they truly belong among the top teams in Dota.
This season, we're the strongest team in the region and will represent it at this spring's main tournament in late April. pic.twitter.com/KcgBA4WKoJ- Team Virtus.pro (@TeamVirtuspro) March 13, 2017