The team which was once as reliable at DPC events as they were choke-ready at TIs has finished joint last at the first Major of 2020. You can’t help but draw comparisons with the downfall of their CS:GO side, and one has to wonder what the future holds for the organization.
Virtus.pro were one of the leading lights in top level esports for years. The legend of the Virtus.plow in Counter-Strike was built on their support of the Polish scene and signing of the key members of the ‘Golden Five’, and the memories that team created have secured the organisation a legacy that lasts to this day, despite the legendary players all having left long ago.
The same is true of Dota 2, where VP are a top brand with multiple Major titles to their name, although success at The International has eluded them which is an issue for a team in a scene so dominated by a single event. The decline of the CS:GO side had not been mirrored by their Dota team – at least not until the start of this DPC season, where something seems to have gone very wrong for the Virtus pros.
For years, the four-man core of Virtus.pro stuck together, and for very good reason. The results achieved by the core of RAMZES666, No[o]ne, 9pasha and Solo was a constant at the top level of Dota – as long as you weren’t at The International, that is. Majors were their playground, and their level was good enough that even when TI rolled around fans would still wonder if this would be the year the team finally overcame their demons.
However, three of the five-man roster departed between September and November of 2019, with RAMZES666 moved to Evil Geniuses in the wake of EG losing Sumail, and 9pasha taking the Na’Vi money. Along with those two, more recent addition RodjER was also allowed to move on, being picked up by a Winstrike team that will probably not reach the heights VP had previously.
In their place came J.Storm’s Resolut1on for his second spell at VP, as well as young talents Save- and epileptick1d, 18- and 17-years-old respectively. That might look like a great move from the outside: you refresh a team that had probably reached its peak with young talent, and give those new hopes time to grow into a Dota season that has become more and more weighted toward The International with every passing year, to the point where some teams don’t even bother to play the first part of the season now.
However, the new DPC season has started awfully for the new VP, with their latest capitulation coming at DreamLeague Season 13, the second Major of the 2019/20 schedule. They failed to win a single game at the event, finishing joint last with paiN, Chaos and Reality Rift, a team that is likely a totally new name to those who don’t follow the game religiously. They have also attended the ONE Esports event in Singapore of late, which saw them finish 5-6th behind the likes of Gambit and Alliance. These are not the kind of results you associate with a Virtus.pro Dota team.
As we said, this is a young team with a lot of growth still to come, but these are still worrying times for VP fans. You don’t have to be a native speaker to hear the despair and pure defeat in the voices of the Russian casters as they recently watched VP lose a 2v5 at DreamLeague to the new Liquid side, who were known as Alliance last year. It seems pretty logical that a lot of Virtus.pro fans would have felt the same way – and they will be wondering what has become of their team.
Hopefully this is a different situation to the one their CS group faced, and the team can come back, but it must be a bit worrying to be a VP fan in 2020, regardless of which Valve game you follow. The end of OpTic has shown that no org is safe if they are mismanaged badly enough, so VP need to get their act together quickly to turn public opinion around and convince their supporters to keep the faith. The best way to do that would be with a strong showing at TI, but if they can’t improve quickly the DPC rankings will leave them behind – and Dota as a whole might too, which would be a tragedy.
Photo credit: DreamHack / Adela Sznajder via Flickr