posted by EskayDota,
Danil 'Dendi' Ishutin is the most recognisable name in Dota 2. As he moves on from his beloved Na’Vi, let’s take a look back at the longest storyline competitive Dota has to offer.

The Beginning

Dendi’s rise to fame began at the very first International, back in 2011. Natus Vincere’s famous run at TI1 saw them drop only a single game throughout the entire tournament, quite possibly the most outstanding run in TI history. As a result of their resounding success, Na’Vi as an organisation, alongside their players, defined the term ‘fan favourites’.

The Ukranian superstar was seen as the front man to Na’Vi’s success, and the media attention that followed saw his face become synonymous with the Dota 2 professional scene. Documentaries were made, articles were written, and the Na’Vi organisation earned the respect and adoration of thousands upon thousands of fans.

“There’s moments of eSports that are landmark, and this is one of them”. – Toby ‘Tobiwan’ Dawson

With Na’Vi’s victory and the mainstream media watching, Dendi’s story was underway. Winning one TI was something, but Dendi had his sights on making history before it had even started.

The International 2012

Some champions fall, but Na’Vi remained strong throughout the year following their success. Shortly after TI1, Ivan 'Artstyle' Antonov departed from the roster, leaving room for Sergey Antonovich 'Ars-Art' Revin. The team didn’t falter in their dominance throughout the upcoming year. So much so that 'dominant' might even be an understatement.

Of the 11 tournaments they participated in throughout the year, they won six, placed 2nd or 3rd in the remaining four, and fell short in a solitary competition, the preliminary fixture in the run up to TI. Seamlessly, Na’Vi soared their way into the finals once again.

“The play” saw Dendi and Dmitriy 'LightOfHeaven' Kupriyanov combine to wipe Invictus Gaming in the later stages of the Upper Bracket. Yet another iconic moment in Dota’s history was born, despite IG’s triumph over Na’Vi in the Grand Final. Once again, the organisation gained even more international reputation, and brought their players even more fame.

Dota’s Sweetheart

If you ever ask a fan why they love Dendi, they might mention the hype behind the accolades Na’Vi surmounted. However, they’re more likely to mention his amicable, electric personality. From interviews to livestreams, any situation with a camera has provided an opportunity for Dendi to make people laugh.

From TI success to goofy camera interviews, Dota’s adoration of Dendi hasn’t stopped there. Pudge has been picked in over 620 million games of Dota 2. The next closest hero is Phantom Assassin, sitting at 465 million, a significant discrepancy. From this alone, it’d be easy to conclude that Pudge — the most played hero in the history of the game — is considered by many as the most fun hero to play. Dendi, Dota’s sweetheart, was also considered the best Pudge player the scene had to offer.

The International 2013

The International 2013 is one of the more memorable tournaments to fans of the game. With fountain hooking and rat Dota down to the final second, there was seemingly endless excitement delivered by the players.

Na'Vi's incredible turnaround in the final game of the Upper Bracket Finals against TongFu* didn't just give fans a once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience, it provided the ultimate storyline — once again with Dendi at the heart of it all.

Not only did the play secure Na'Vi's spot in the Grand Final of the tournament, but it also meant that for three years in a row, Dendi and Na'Vi had made it to the final of every International. Alongside Clement 'Puppey' Ivanov and Alexander 'XBOCT' Dashkevich, their legacies were set in stone.

Times of Uncertainty

Life post-TI3 saw some changes for Dendi. The organisation made it to TI4 with the same roster, but failed to make it to the Grand Finals. Na'Vi decided to change their roster somewhat drastically. Puppey, the figurehead of the team, decided to depart, hoping to reap the rewards of a new venture which would become Team Secret.

With Dendi at the helm of the new team, the organisation would rebuild around their frontman, but it wouldn't be an easy road ahead. The next four years would present unstable rosters, challenging tournaments and finally, failure to qualify for The International.

Having participated in 104 competitions over 7+ years, finishing in the top 3 in over 45% of them, whatever is in store for Dendi he leaves behind a legacy that will be unparalleled and always untouched. The Dota world waits with baited breath to see where he ends up next.

Photo credit: DreamHack - Jennika Ojala
Photo credit: Valve

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