Virtus.pro spent on ESL One Fall 2022 six matches and did not give up a single card in them. The team ends most of the fights without feeling any resistance from the opponents at all. However, in the community, VP’s online success is no longer causing the past hype. Opinion leaders and some of the fans found a dozen reasons to level the team’s merits. On the contrary, we will try to explain why Virtus.pro’s result should inspire optimism to all fans, and a possible victory at ESL One Fall will significantly increase the roster’s chances of competing for the championship at The International 10…
In the community, you can often hear talk about Virtus.pro playing their best strategies at ESL One Fall, while everyone else is “fanning” and experimenting. This is not entirely true. Yes, VP took only 29 different characters in six matches, while Alliance, for example, used 35 heroes in five fights. But is this difference indicative if the European team has not demonstrated a single truly interesting and effective idea?
In addition, Virtus.pro usually takes standard heroes for two supports, with the possible exception of the Omniknight team, which has appeared for the first time in eight months in the draft. VP is experimenting with picks for core players. At ESL One Fall Egor Nightfall Grigorenko has already used ten different characters for 12 cards. Among the heroes he played were Bloodseeker – VP had only played it three times on the professional stage before – and Void Spirit (the second match on the professional stage in his career, the first was in May 2022).
For gpK ~For example, at ESL One Fall they took Leshrac, on which Skutin previously played only three times on the professional stage, the last time in 2022. On Razor, he played more often, but that was back in the days of Gambit, and in VP this character was taken to him on the mid only once.
Dmitry DM Dorokhin As part of ESL One Fall, he first tried out the hard Lycan, and in total on the professional stage he had two games on a character up to this point, which date back to the first half of 2018. Dorokhin hasn’t played at Bloodseeker since 2022. At the same time, VP did not take for DM his most popular character – Sand King, who has now entered the meta and has one of the highest win rates in the tournament. It doesn’t look like Virtus.pro is rolling out all of its signature pieces. The team is experimenting in the same way as most of the tournament participants, only it does not do it as clumsy as Tundra with the mid Keeper of the Light or PSG.LGD with the Spirit Breaker in the center.
The failure at the Kiev Major probably hit Virtus.pro hard in terms of psychology and self-confidence. Along with this, a ton of negativity from the community fell on the team. And the criticism was largely justified, since Virtus.pro at AniMajor really looked untenable and lacking in ideology. And now, before the most important tournament in their lives, players need to feel again that they can fight on equal terms with any opponent and not lose both in individual performance and in team actions. This is not to say that at ESL One Fall, the team performs at the limit of their capabilities, they simply act more collected and concentrated than their opponents, while not afraid to take risks. And the lack of courage in the game is exactly what VP was scolded for after the Major. The inability to take risks in time is also associated with psychology, and now the team is catching the necessary courage.
Almost any professional player will say that a defeat in an official tournament, no matter how insignificant it may be against the background of TI, hits the mood and team morale. It is unlikely that SG e-sports and Thunder Predator, who did not win a single meeting at ESL One Fall and took the last places in their groups, are now quite rubbing their hands and saying: “Well, we trained well, now we are ready for TI.” Such failures, a little over a month before the main tournament of the year, can only sow uncertainty in their ideas, drafts, and most importantly, in each other.
Is good form before TI bad?
OG winning two TIs in a row after disastrous seasons has given parts of the community the deceptive impression that success in the main event does not correlate in any way with previous results during the year. This is where these tiresome lamentations about “do not fire up strategies” and so on came from here. However, in reality, the thesis that underdogs shoot at TI, and favorites fail, is incorrect.
Take The International 2019. Yes, Anathan ana Fam Most of the season was resting, and OG, without its carry, failed almost all tournaments and only thanks to the last championship was it able to get into the list of invited teams, so very few people really believed in it at TI9. What about the rest of the bands? Of the top six teams at the end of the DPC season, five made it to the top 6 at TI, with Virtus.pro being the only exception. That is, there were no random teams in the top, the leaders of the season simply castled at the top.
Let’s remember The International 2018. OG created a sensation there, but there weren’t many other surprises. The top four DPC teams entered the top 6… Moreover, three of the four DPC leaders won the tournament at the end of the season and were in good shape. Yes, OG and EG, who staged a crazy reshuffle right before the start of TI8, naturally jumped over their heads. However, the rest of the leaders were as predictable as possible, because they looked really good during the season and especially at the end of it.
In 2017, Valve invited six teams, and the rest of the rosters competed in the regional qualifiers. Of the six teams that received an invite, four entered the top 6 at The International 2017 at once, and two of them were in the final – Team Liquid and Newbee… By the way, about the composition of KuroKy – he gave a phenomenal ending to the season: the team won the last major international LAN before TI7 – EPICENTER, and literally two weeks before the start of TI went to DreamLeague Season 7, where it also took first place. And you think Liquid didn’t fire up strategies there and confuse future opponents with fake drafts? No matter how it is. The team used Necrophos and Lycan, which later had a 100% win rate at TI7 with the KuroKy roster, and also often took Earthshaker – he became the most popular roster character at The International (15 matches and an 86.67% win rate). Yes, they hid the strata as best they could.
Yes, of course, Virtus.pro will not try on the role of an underdog, whom no one pays attention to, following the example of OG. But let’s be realistic: there is no point in demanding victory at TI10 from such a young roster. Virtus.pro’s task is to enter the top 6, ideally to rise to the top 4. And this goal is much easier to cope with if you are in good game tone and feel the meta.
Online you are Leo Tolstoy, and on LAN …
The thesis that Virtus.pro is only strong online has become firmly established in the minds of the community after the team’s failure in two majors. Yes, VP really sank mentally on LAN, as evidenced not only by the end result, but also by the style of play itself, which became fearful and passive. But the problem of the collective was not only psychology. Virtus.pro players during the DPC were indeed the gods of online, but this was primarily due to the level of resistance in the CIS. The team began to be praised prematurely, although, in fact, VP was simply “beating the children in the sandbox”, in the role of which were NoTechies, EXTREMUM and others.
Now we are talking about an online tournament, which brought together teams from different regions, while seven of them will play at The International 10 at once. You can say as much as you like that T1 and PSG.LGD are not showing the best game, but these are exclusively their problems. … Why can’t Alliance, a TI member, beat the relaxed PSG.LGD, which has the Faceless Void five and Undying three? It’s so simple, judging by the statements of some media personalities!
Yes, Virtus.pro is now in a comfortable environment, playing from the bootcamp, and not on stage. However, this time she faces serious opponents with different styles and strategies. And so far none of the collectives, except for Tundra, have been able to surprise VP and put her in a difficult position. The team is now ready to adapt in a timely manner to any difficulties, including failures at the laning stage. Therefore, VP should no longer have a fear of foreign tops. And stage fright and LAN … The team admitted that it had problems, and therefore the sports director and coach joined the club, which means that the players are ready to work on their mistakes.
It is worth repeating that a possible victory at ESL One Fall will not make Virtus.pro in the current roster the main contender for victory at The International. However, a young team needs constant playing practice with strong teams from other regions. And if you are to participate in such championships, then you need to win or at least fight for the top 3, otherwise it will be a waste of time at best, and may harm you at worst. So yes, if VP raises the imaginary ESL One Fall trophy overhead, then the team’s chances of making it to the top 6 at TI10 will increase markedly. And, in the end, we will be able to once again rejoice at the success of the CIS team in the international arena, how often have we had reasons for this recently?