The CEO of Ukraine’s most famous esports organization had some choice words about the future Na’Vi.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Natus Vincere CEO Yevhen Zolotarov has stated that the team is unwilling to work with people who live in Russia or pay taxes in the Russian Federation. The Na’Vi executive went on to heavily imply it would be cutting players that do not relocate from Russia.
The interview, which covered numerous topics related to the war in Ukraine, touched on its CS:GO, Dota 2, and mobile divisions. The CEO talked about his own background as a Russian-speaking Ukrainian and the ongoing conflict’s effect on the company. He also mentioned plans to disband several mobile rosters.
Na’Vi’s Dota 2 issues
Dota 2 gets a special call-out in the interview from Zolotarov, as the CEO pointed to “issues” surrounding the game. But he specifies that it’s not political issues: “It’s more about Valve deciding not to do the second season for the CIS region because of the war. And the third major is going to happen in the United States.”
“We don’t know what the perspectives are for “Dota 2” in our region in general. I called our region “CIS” before, but I wouldn’t do this anymore. But it’s not about our roster; it’s more about Dota 2 in our region in general.”
A leaked document recently outlined a trio of hurdles laid by Valve for CIS/EEU teams before they were willing to restart the postponed DPC season. One of these directly referenced Visa issues, which Zolotarov mentions.
Na’Vi is currently has Russian player Alexey “Solo” Berezin, source of the infamous 322 meme, on their roster. The team also has a Russian manager, former pro CS:GO player Aleksandr “Lk-” Lemeshev, attached to their organization.
Na’Vi’s CEO on its CS:GO roster
In a direct question about Na’Vi’s CS:GO roster, Zolotarov explained that they will keep the superstar roster that features Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. Na’Vi’s main CS:GO roster features three Russian players, Denis “electroNic” Sharipov, Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov, and Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy. Zolotarov stated that all three players were willing to relocate outside of Russia.
Zolotarov also described the story of a 17-year-old player for the Na’Vi Junior roster, who spend a week in a basement with his family. The CEO explained that several employees still lived in Kyiv. “They sleep in shelters… Every night, for a month.”
Overall the interview paints a picture of an organization in turmoil, but one not above making hard decisions to survive. In dropping Russian players and staff, Na’Vi may cut ties to a lucrative audience. But with sanctions and a new divide between East and West being formed, the Ukrainian organization is making a clear choice in its alignment.