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(Photo: AS Monaco Gambit)

(Photo: AS Monaco Gambit)

Russian organisation AS Monaco Gambit announced on Wednesday (26 May) that Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko and Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev have left their Dota 2 team, even after they qualified for the upcoming WePlay AniMajor, to join regional rivals Natus Vincere (Na’Vi).

AS Monaco Gambit had a rough start in Season 2 of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), losing their first three matches in the upper division of the CIS regional league. 

According to statements made by both SoNNeikO and AS Monaco Gambit, this prompted both SoNNeikO and No[o]ne to express their desire to leave the team. However, the organisation managed to agree to a compromise and convinced both players to finish the season under their banner. 

AS Monaco Gambit then proceeded to win their four remaining matches to finish third in their league and earn a spot in the Wildcard Stage of the WePlay AniMajor. 

Despite qualifying for the Major, both SoNNeikO and No[o]ne refused to attend the tournament and have now left to join Na’Vi, a move which AS Monaco Gambit allowed given that the contracts of both players expire once Season 2 of the DPC concluded.

“It is hard for us to believe what is happening right now, but it is the reality of the Dota 2 CIS scene in 2021. SoNNeikO wanted to leave the team after the unsuccessful start of the DPC Season 2, but the organisation managed to convince players to switch roles and finish the season together, which allowed us to qualify for the Major. In spite of that, Akbar and Vladimir refused to go to [the Major] and expressed their desire to leave Gambit. Given the situation, we see no reason to hold the players, whose contracts expire at the end of DPC Season 2,” AS Monaco Gambit said in a statement.

“After three losses at the start of the season I’ve informed the organization and my teammates that I no longer believe in the success of this roster and that I want to leave. We agreed to finish this season together, No[o]ne became responsible for drafts and coordination, and we managed to qualify for the Major. I decided not to participate in the Major even though other parties were willing to continue working. I would like to apologise to my teammates and to the organization and wish them success in [the Major],” SoNNeikO said in a post on Twitlonger.

“I want to say a big thank you to my teammates and the management of the organization [AS Monaco Gambit] for an excellent few months. Despite not the coolest results, it was an important experience that taught me a lot,” said No[o]ne in a post on his personal Twitter account.

AS Monaco Gambit will now attend the WePly AniMajor, which will be held from 2 to 13 June in Kiev, Ukraine, with Artem “Lorenof” Melnik and Stanislav “633” Gushan replacing No[o]ne and SoNNeikO.

Meanwhile, No[o]ne and SoNNeikO join Na’Vi to replace Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko and Andrii “ALWAYSWANNAFLY” Bondarenko. After Na’Vi missed out on the ONE Esports Singapore Major due to positive coronavirus cases within its roster, the team struggled mightily in Season 2 and failed to qualify for the WePlay AniMajor.

No[o]ne notably reunites with former teammates Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev and Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan, with whom he played with from 2018 to 2019, with his move to Na’Vi. 

Meanwhile, SoNNeikO is now in his fourth stint with Na’Vi, having played for the organisation from April 2015 to November 2016, April 2017 to February 2018, and September 2018 to October 2019.

Now having missed out on the two Majors for this year’s circuit, Na’Vi will be looking ahead to The International 10 (TI10), which will be held in Stockholm, Sweden from 5 to 15 August. Na’Vi will have to earn their spot in the US$40 million tournament through the regional qualifiers, which is expected to take place in July.

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