After bowing out in Day 2 of the ONE Esports Dota 2 Singapore Invitational, we sat down with Natus Vincere captain Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov and offlaner Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov to talk about the trajectory of their team as they try to bring Na’Vi back to the top of the CIS region.

You came into the Singapore Invitational with a new roster with Zayac taking over the captain spot on the team after the departure of Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev. What was the process behind that?

Zayac: I wanted to try to be the captain. Here’s how it happened: We needed a captain but we couldn’t find a player that could be our captain. So, we decided to make one of us the captain. My teammates said they trusted me so I became our captain.

How has the transition to captain been for you?

Zayac: It’s kinda hard to be captain. Two years ago [with Vega Squadron], I tried to be the captain but now it’s hard for me. But [Na’Vi coach] Andrey “Mag” Chipenko and 9pasha have really helped me, so I cannot say I’m the real captain for now.

Can you tell us more about how that dynamic works?

Zayac: We have something like three leaders, 9pasha helps me in-game and [Mag and I] do the drafts together. 

How did changing captains affect how Na’Vi play as a team?

9pasha: After we changed players, we decided that we will work on the main idea of our game: What we want to do on the map and how we want to play. We are still thinking about it because it’s a new patch.

Na’Vi also acquired Ilyas “Ilias” Ganeev this offseason. Not many people outside of the CIS scene know about him, can you tell us how you found him?

9pasha: He’s a guy from matchmaking we found because some of our players have played with him in some games, and they said he’s a good player. We asked him to play in some test games and after a few games, we decided he’s actually a really good player.

Aside from being the team’s Position 5 support, are there other things that Ilias brings to the table?

9pasha: He doesn’t just play well with heroes in his position, but he’s also helping us with his own ideas. Like, whenever we’re doing something wrong he’ll tell us. 

What will the team be doing next?

Zayac: We will go on holiday for two weeks, but I think we’re just gonna play pubs. After the new year, we’re gonna go on a bootcamp for the next Major.

How are you going to prepare for the next Major in Leipzig?

Zayac: For now, we really got a lot of problems to figure out and fix. This patch is too big, people don’t really understand it right now. We just need to play more Dota to get more stretches and get stronger. 

9pasha: We have to change many things before the Major. It’s good that we found out our mistakes and weaknesses, so we can work on them right now. We have a lot of work to do very soon.

Sometimes we just pick whatever hero and then our plan just disappears. All our players should understand what we are going to do during the game and the games will be much easier.

How is Na’Vi doing in terms of team mentality heading into the next Major?

9pasha: I think we are getting better and better. I think we have not been doing everything that we want. We have a good plan for our games, but sometimes we just forget about it. We have an idea to have good heroes, good lanes, we know what we want to do.

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