The International 2017 qualifiers recently ended, and with it came a shocking ripple in Dota history. For the first time since its inception, Natus Vincere will not be attending The International.
But, like the changing of the seasons, there will be replacements. With Virtus.pro looking strong enough for a direct invite to the tournament, the CIS region will have a good flagship team to represent them at the forefront.
However, VP will not be flying solo, as there was a team to emerge from the CIS qualifiers with a bit of spunk, and just enough attitude to match (at least that's what we can tell from their Twitter account.)
Team Empire have been having a turbulent year. Completing a new roster in January with the addition of Chappie and fn, with RodjER replacing KingR 2 months ago, they started strong in the Dota Asia Championships group stage, but fell in sequential matches in the playoffs, going 1-2 in both matches.
The rest of their matches have been a smattering of losses in qualifiers and sub-par placements in minor LANs. However the Main Qualifiers of TI are arguably the most important, as they give Empire the opportunity, to pull something great out of nothing.
7-2 in the groupstage, 7-0 in playoffs— Team Empire (@team_empire) June 29, 2017
almost perfect #TI7 CIS qualifier
Not to mention that if Virtus.pro could make such a turn around and become viewed as a top-tier team after the Kiev Major, who's to say that TI7 could be the ignition for Empire? As we have just seen, CIS has a volatile potential.