Ukrainian esports organization Natus Vincere has announced the departure of Yaroslav “Jady” Nikolaev from its Valorant roster, just ahead of the VCT EMEA Stage 2 Main Event.
Jady had been one of the most promising players on the roster on KAY/O and Viper. In a TwitLonger post explaining the move, the Russian player cited the need to take a break and work on his mental health.
Former forze and One Breath Gaming player Nikolai “zeddy” Lapko will step in to replace him. The 23-year-old previously found success in the CIS region, winning VCT 2021: CIS Challengers twice and the First Strike CIS tournament.
Zeddy replaces Jady on the NAVI Valorant roster
With Jady, NAVI looked much improved in 2022. They came close to qualifying for EMEA Challengers in the first CIS qualifier, losing only to eventual EMEA Stage 1 champions FunPlus Phoenix in a closely-contested grand final match. They finally prevailed in the second qualifier, taking down 5MOKES to qualify for the VCT EMEA Stage 1 group stage.
On One Breath Gaming, zeddy last competed in the Valorant Regional League CIS. This will be his first time in the big leagues of European Valorant, where NAVI will have to contend with giants like M3 Champions (formerly Gambit Esports) and Team Liquid in their group.
NAVI will be looking to improve on their 2-3 record in the group stage in Stage 1, where they failed to make it to the playoffs.
Its roster is now comprised of Russian and Belarusian players. Most of the NAVI team has moved to Serbia and begun training, possibly in anticipation of any travel restrictions resulting from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
NAVI Valorant roster
- Artur “7ssk7” Kyurshin
- Denis “dinkzj” Tkachev
- Mikhail “Duno” Fokin
- Kirill “Cloud” Nekhozhin
- Nikolai “zeddy” Lapko
The other four members of the team have been with the organization since last July, when NAVI signed the roster of No Pressure.
NAVI will play their opening match of VCT EMEA Stage 2 Challengers against BBL Esports on May 13.