Not once has the title holder failed to even qualify for the next Major event in CS:GO history until now, and even if this designation has only applied in the past few years due to automatic invitations, VP’s performance here has to go down as a spectacular failure, even worse than the debacles of Cloud9 and Gambit in their so-called title defenses. Counter-Strike is a numbers game, but the eye test has always immediately made it clear that this trio doesn’t belong in the pantheon, and for the final CS:GO Major, it’s nice to get confirmation of this.
There’s always going to be some variance in a knockout bracket of any competitive discipline. (There’s a reason why you won’t find 100% accurate March Madness brackets knocking about the place.) Sometimes the best teams will end up facing each other early on in the competition, paving the way for an unlikely candidate or two to make a deep run.
Virtus.pro, then known as Outsiders due to the org’s ban by tournament organizers due to their connections with the Russian government, barely squaked into the team list for Rio to begin with, finishing 3-2 in the Europe B RMR. Victories over IHC (#bajillion), Vitality (#2), Fnatic (#19), NiP (#11), Spirit (#13) and MOUZ (#9) earned them a spot in the playoffs. Though their victory over the Pro League winners was undoubtedly impressive, none of their other opponents could be classified as elite-level opposition.
Then they got not one, but two rematches on their way to the grand final, going up against Fnatic and MOUZ again, before defeating Heroic in yet another rematch – the Danes got the better of them on Overpass in the opening best-of-one of the Legends Stage – joining a select few of CS:GO elite without truly having proven their mettle against the best of the best.
This is when the inevitable question crops up: were they underrated, and this was their time to show their true potential, or was a combination of fortunate brackets and overperformance for an outlier result? Well, much like Gambit and Cloud9 before them, Outsiders then proceeded to do the square root of fuck all elsewhere in the circuit – this is where the tasteless joke about Jame and masturbation goes – before bombing out of the subsequent RMR.
In a way, the past is prologue as the VP org was also responsible for taking up tons of undeserved invitations with their Polish core long past their sell-by date, scoring 0-3 after 0-3 in what was a tragic end to their epic story.
From a spectacle perspective, does one really mind VP’s elimination? The Jame time playstyle is not particularly attractive to casual viewers and also hasn’t proven particularly effective across a large sample size.
The same goes for Cloud9 and Gambit: say what you will about their positions in the rankings at the time of their victories, or any additional factors, they never passed the eye test, and they were quickly found out once the spotlight shone on them and internal issues rose to the surface. Wherever they went from that point onwards, they just simply weren’t good enough. VP’s case is further exacerbated by the fact that they were also not fun to watch in their CS:GO matches.
Then there was the late-breaking story of Kair0N-‘s removal, another reason to root against the mild bunch. Of course, every team is free to make adjustments to their squad, even if this one at such a late stage was silly at worst and desperate at best. However, the fact that the org shut down any questions about the subject is unacceptable. Rumor has it there were visa issues and incompetence in the background, though Jame’s vlog suggests it was simply just an idiotic choice to bring n0rb3r7 back at such a late moment, not that this would be the first time that players had to run interference for their own shady orgs.
BLAST going along with VP’s request to shut down the subject is also unacceptable – and while the two things are not directly related, the timing of the VP brand’s return coupled with all this also leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The TO hasn’t lived up to expectations so far, with baffling design decisions combined with tangible competitive integrity issues (including the Legends Stage seeding brouhaha) serving as a poor start to their long-awaited Major performance. Normally, this is where you would say that there’s still time to turn things around and fix issues until the main event, but it’s already too late for the teams impacted by day-long delays, stage violations and broken headsets. What a mess.
At least VP won’t be stinking up the place, and we will always have Paris. Good riddance.
Photo credit: HLTV