The creation of the CIS division, which was previously a part of the greater European region, has only stoked the flames of an already fiercely competitive scene. With just one Kiev Major invitation for the entire region, the CIS online qualifier playoffs kicked off Sunday and featured four familiar teams: Virtus.pro, Team Spirit, Team Empire and Na'Vi, with Virtus.pro coming through clutch and punching a ticket to the Kiev Major.
The frontrunner on this list was Virtus.pro, its 9-0 record during the round-robin stage only reinforcing this. Virtus.pro enjoyed the quickest route to the grand finals, despite both of its wins going the full three-game length. After a disappointing 5th-8th place finish at the Boston Major and a struggle to adapt to the new patch, Virtus.pro has struggled to regain its momentum, finishing in 5th-6th place at Dota Pit Season 5 after a 3rd-4th place finish at ESL One Genting.
Its opponent in the grand finals, Natus Vincere, was a team it had seen before. After losing to Virtus.pro in the opening playoff match, Na'Vi battled all the way through the lower bracket to set up a rematch in the grand finals. Na'Vi easily bested Team Spirit in the first round of the lower bracket, avenging their previous round-robin loss. Their next series against Team Empire was more of a struggle. With their backs against the wall following a Game 1 loss, an excellent performance by Victor "GeneRaL" Nigrini on Batrider in Game 2 and solid teamwork in Game 3 carried Na'Vi through to the grand finals for their second chance matchup against Virtus.pro.
The grand final matchup between Na'Vi and Virtus.pro was a letdown compared to the previous pair of high-intensity series. Neither of the games were close, clocking in at just over 50 minutes of total game time. The Kiev Major will be a huge test for Virtus.pro and will determine if it truly belongs among the top teams in Dota.