Natus Vincere CEO speaks on Zayac's departure

3 min read
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Natus Vincere

CemaTheSlayer brought in as a stand-in

Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov's sudden departure from Natus Vincere has caused a bit of a commotion in the Dota 2 CIS scene. Of the opinion that a blog post wouldn't be sufficient to cover the matter, Na'Vi's CEO, Yevhen "HarisPilton" Zolotarov released a video addressing the situation and the team's new direction.  

According to Zolotarov, Zayac's decision took the entire organization by surprise. Following Na'Vi's loss to Team Liquid at DreamLeague Season 13: The Leipzig Major, Zayac rang Zolotarov directly to inform him of his desire to leave the team for Virtus.pro. The news was a surprise because, before that point, Zayac hadn't voiced a desire to leave. 

Being one of Na'Vi's strongest players, Zolotarev had no desire to lose Zayac so easily, so he asked if they could continue the discussion the next day. Naturally, he contacted team manager Igor "Caff" Sydorenko, only to learn that even Zayac's teammates had no idea he planned to leave. 

Zayac had put the team in a very tight position. Losing one of their best players to one of their biggest rivals with only two weeks to Dota Pro Circuit Qualifier #3 was like a nightmare. Try as the team might Zayac's mind was already made up, so he promptly packed up and left.  

Being admittedly over-emotional, Zolotarev's first discussion with Virtus.pro CEO, Sergey Glamazda, didn't go so well. Eventually, though, they were able to discuss the matter properly and both parties seemed to agree on what to do next. Na'Vi would bench Zayac while the organization sought a replacement for the player, but before that could happen, Zolotarev received a letter from Zayac. In it, he stated that his original contract with Na'Vi did not give the organization any permission to extend it. So he considers himself a free agent and current contract invalid. 

In the same period, Zolotarev also received a message from Glamazda, which mostly pointed out that contracts often have legal grey areas that get misinterpreted. From both messages, Na'Vi's CEO concluded that Zayac hadn't only been approached by Virtus.pro but was also pushed to leave in this manner.  

Going to court was an option, but Na'Vi was in a weak legal position. Apparently, the organization never included a clause requiring advance notification from players with an intent to leave the team until after The International. Funny enough, it was Zayac's extension, but when Caff had gone about adding an addendum to the contract, he accidentally omitted this crucial clause. As Na'Vi is built upon trust, they had never needed to force any of its player's contractual obligations. The organization had operated for a decade without any need for such a clause. Hence Caff's mistake.  

This wasn't the first time Zayac had decided to leave the team though. After The International, the Kyrgyz pro player accepted an invitation to join Gambit Esports. Na'Vi had managed to persuade him to stay that time, but it led to a raise, bonuses based on DPC points acquired during the season, and even his position as captain of the team.  

Zolotarev said that Zayac's behavior hurt not just the players but the entire team. At first, he was willing to receive a transfer fee in exchange for them completing the deal in silence, but changed his mind. Choosing to share the truth over a paycheck, he decided to go public with the whole situation.  

Transfer rules

The Dota competitive scene doesn't have any governing rules on how transfers are done, with Zolotarev doubtful that Valve will ever make any such provision. This is why he has decided to gather all team CEOs in the CIS in the next few weeks to discuss how transfers should be handled in the region. Before the situation with Zayac, the CIS handled transfers based on mutual respect and understanding between organizations. Calling Caff's actions underhanded, he hopes that together they will be able to avoid situations such as this from ever happening again.  

Some ideas he had floating around were setting transfer value restrictions and what sort of repercussions should follow if any player or organization fails to comply with them. The goal of this meeting would be to better serve and protect both the player's and organization's interests regarding transfers. 

Rumors, misconceptions and the future

Zolotarev took the opportunity to dispell rumors circulating that Akbar "SoNNeikO" Butaev's departure had something to do with Zayac's arrival. He stated that even if they had known of Zayac's departure at the time, SoNNeikO would have still left. He also assured fans that felt Na'Vi should have received a transfer fee that they "overestimate" Dota's transfer market. In a nutshell, receiving that money wouldn't make much of a difference to the organization's financials. 

Na'Vi's CEO also announced the identity of Zayac's replacement. After observing several free agents, the team has taken on Semion "CemaTheSlayer" Krivulya as a stand-in. He will remain with the team for the upcoming qualifiers, but his performance and the team's chemistry will determine the next step afterward. 

You can watch Yevhen "HarisPilton" Zolotarov's entire message here

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