The clock is ticking on teams looking to qualify for The International 2019, and that is prompting some heavy roster shakeups.
One organization making serious changes is Winstrike Team. The CIS staple recently suffered a series of departures, but have put together a compelling new roster for a push into the EPICENTER Major.
Joining Winstrike are longtime Virtus.pro player Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk and former OG carry Igor "iLTW" Filatov. The team also confirmed the return of captain Alexander "Nofear" Churochkin. Though there are no guarantees in Dota 2, this likely marks a big boost for Winstrike’s chances going forward.
Winstrike burst onto the Dota 2 scene last year when it signed surging CIS stack FlyToMoon. The Andrey "ALWAYSWANNAFLY" Bondarenko-led team established itself as a force late in the season, taking third place at EPICENTER XL and turning that into a sponsorship with Winstrike. It qualified for The International 2018 by coming out on top of a competitive set of CIS qualifiers, and actually entered as a popular dark horse pick to win the event.
It posted a respectable ninth-place performance at the event and was widely expected to be a real contender in the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season. When the team failed to qualify for the first two majors of the season the wheels came off, resulting in constant turnover with the roster.
Leaving the latest iteration of Winstrike are Milan "MiLAN" Kozomara, Dmitry "Oli" Dorokhin, and Dino "dnz" ?avuk. The trio joined Winstrike together in March but were inexplicably absent from the MDL Disneyland Major qualifiers. The lineup instead debuted with a flop in the CIS qualifiers for the OGA Dota PIT Minor, resulting in their departures from the team shortly thereafter.
A debate can be had about how the new Winstrike lineup stacks up against the previous one from a technical perspective, but the team can only go up from here in terms of results.
ILTW joins following a serviceable run with OG. After he was added to that team as a substitute for Anathan “ana” Pham, he performed ably at events like ESL One Katowice 2019 and WePlay! Dota 2 Winter Madness.
Lil joins following a largely inactive eight months. Despite being a staple of Virtus.pro from 2015 to 2018, he was suddenly traded to Natus Vincere last season and became a free agent after the team failed to qualify for TI8. He has struggled to find a steady home ever since, with his highest profile run being a mere two-day stint with Flying Penguins.
The new Winstrike Team is not scheduled to compete at any event, but there are plenty of possible landing spots for them over the coming weeks.