Virtus.pro were once the engine that drove evolution amongst an elite sub-set of teams. Throughout their upwards swing as a team, each player found bouts of form. From Pasha, to snax, to NEO. Their stars changed as fluidly as their roles, leader and primary AWPer. In the moment though, this dynamism seems to be more focussed on a disintegrating cast of legends rather than healthy change-up of in-game patterns. From the removal of TaZ, to then the depature of snax, and the upcoming absence of byali - Virtus.pro is quickly becoming a different beast of a side.
At the FACEIT London Major, Virtus.pro finished in last place, 23rd-24th, and losing three consecutive Bo1’s. They finished 20th out of 27 teams in S28 of ESEA Premier, and the last four LANs they’ve attended have all been by virtue of invites, not by successfully battling through online qualifiers. Their biggest obstacle has been against Asian sides at a tier two/three level. The days of dominating international LAN stages and brushing aside confetti has been replaced by the grind of trying to put together a semblance of a stable system. Virtus.pro have fallen, and are continuing to fall of a cliff. Byali’s last stint with the side over this period will be stored away in the furthest reaches of his memory, and for good reason.
They may be legends, but they are not granted immunity from the savage pressures of the CS ecosystem. How will they, or more specifically, should they evolve moving forwards?
As it stands, Pasha and NEO are the last remaining members of the fabled core. Byali, since the player break, has been geared towards the star role in VP’s system, counterintuitively being put in less entry heavy positoins. In his place, MICHU and pasha have stepped up as entries, NEO plays a more supportive role and snatchie has picked up the AWP. On his way out, while the team failed to put up results at least byali was able to post decent numbers, having been given the most amount of resources and favourable fragging spots around the map.
With their primary round-glue leaving however, the biggest question of evolution for Virtus.pro will be who will take-up the role of star.
Potential 5th additions aside, this call will have to be answered likely by snatchie, and then by MICHU. Snatchie was the primary star of the tightly bound together AGO core, posting big stat lines with his clutch, back-of-the-pack AWPing in a system geared around him. He proved throughout his time on AGO, especially in Valencia and StarSeries Season 5 that he’s capable of performing under pressure and against the world’s biggest sides. Virtus.pro though, lacks the same brotherhood and camaraderie that snatchie formed in the grind of qualifier play with AGO. If he truly is an international calibre star with the big green, then a disintegrating VP mightn’t be the most ideal environment to prove it, but is the one where his presence is needed the most.
With pasha being pushed of the AWP, he has taken up a lot of the roles the morelz had taken for his stand-in performances with VP earlier in the year. Pasha looks to bait for the likes of MICHU and is a dogged rifler rather than flashy star now. His aggressive tendencies are now being honed with ak’s rather than snipers. For sure though, he will not be the main point of praise in VP’s system anymore, rather, just trying to survive in a new era of play and in a new role.
Pasha’s and NEO’s transition to more ‘bitch’ roles and the arrival of snatchie, plus a potential fifth into the more star-orientated positions is a good signal as to the overall direction of VP moving forwards. The veterans are being relegated to the shadows as the new blood is being pushed harder as the saviours of the side. Whether or not the likes of snatchie, MICHU and the mysterious signing is capable of saving such a dejected team remains to be seen. But in their current roles, don’t expect the familiar names to be the one turning things around for VP.
They have new colours, new talent and a new set of problems, but very likely we could be seeing the same old results until the likes of snatchie can be made comfortable and dominant.