Dota 2 TI10 Team Profile: Virtus.pro
Virtus.pro is one of the few Russian organizations that have stuck around since the earliest days of Russian esports, except Team Empire. With a history of successful teams across games like Dota 2 and CSGO, the Russian organization has led the CIS region in esports growth and competition. In Dota 2, Virtus.pro have often represented the sole hope for the CIS region, except teams such as NAVI during the earlier days of Dota 2. With most of Russia and Ukraine’s veteran pros either hanging up their jerseys or occupying seats on the analyst’s desk, it’s up to a new generation of players to continue a tradition of Dota 2 that goes back to the days of Warcraft 3 and Dota Allstars.
We’ve been doing team profiles on Dota 2 teams participating at TI10. Even though we’re already at the playoffs stage, the goal is to provide detailed team profiles on all teams competing to give new viewers and returning fans improved insight for this year’s event. If you’re curious, check out profiles we’ve published on Team Undying, Elephant, OG, Team Spirit, Beastcoast, SG esports, Evil Geniuses, Alliance, Team Secret, Quincy Crew and Fnatic. As always, stay on the lookout for more blogs on T10 to come in the future.
Virtus.pro – Rise of the Russian Bears
The Virtus.pro logo stands out and evokes the spirit of a squad that’s become synonymous with Russian esports even to the most casual viewer. In Dota 2, this logo was typically associated with decent players with overinflated egos. Some of Russia’s most recognizable pros, such as NS, Smile, God, Dread, and Illidan, wore the bear logo in their careers as players, but they wouldn’t see much success during the early days of Dota 2 competition. Between 2013 and 2015, Virtus.pro would take wins at events such as The Defense Season 3 and Dreamleague Season 3. Their win at Dreamleague Season 3 could be considered a fluke as 2015 didn’t see much competition in Europe outside of Team Secret, who was not present for the event. Ironically enough, Virtus.pro would defeat Secret at TI5 and ensure a 5-6th place for themselves, their best showing at a TI event up till that point.
2016 would see Virtus.pro undergo a period of revitalization. The team would recruit Russian pariah Solo, known internationally for his involvement in a match-fixing scandal during his days on RoX.KIS, as the team’s captain to lead a new roster of players. This roster would include the talented but young carry RAMZES666, Vega Squadron’s 9pasha and No[o]ne, and returning support player Lil, who had played for Virtus.pro during the days of its secondary squad, Virtus.pro Polar/ASUS Polar. Both Lil and RAMZES had caught the eye of CIS mastermind Goblak, who is well-known for scouting developing talents and utilizing them to qualify for larger events. No doubt that Virtus.pro and Solo noticed Goblak’s recruitment of these two young, talented, but untested players for Goblak’s CIS Rejects and NVMI squads.
The later half of 2016 would see Virtus.pro post immediate results as the team was able to qualify for big events going into 2017, such as The Boston Major, ESL One Genting, and DreamLeague Season 6. However, Virtus.pro wouldn’t attend DreamLeague due to scheduling conflicts with The Boston Major. Virtus. pro’s showing at The Boston Major saw them take a respectable 5th-8th place as they were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the single-elimination main event, a remarkably improved showing than what previous years had seen.
2017-2018 would be Virtus. pro’s golden age, as the team showed good team synergy and creative drafting throughout these years. Solo quickly became known as a competent leader and drafter that could rival the likes of players like Puppey and Kuroky. RAMZES stood out as one of the best carry players in Europe, let alone CIS, as many teams in both Europe and CIS at this time had not found breakout carry players for their rosters, with the exception of OG who were winning all of the Valve majors at that time and saw the development of their carry player, ana.
I still contend that No[o]ne is still the best mid laner in CIS, although he now has competition from Danil’ gpk’ Skutin and Team Spirit’s TORONTOTOKYO. 2017-2018 was No[o] ne’s year. It showed at events such as The Kiev Major 2017 and China Dota SuperMajor, where Virtus.pro took second place, and DOTA Summit 7, DOTA Summit 8, ESL One Hamburg 2017, ESL One Katowice 2018, ESL One Birmingham 2018, The Bucharest Major, and The Kuala Lumpur Major, where Virtus.pro took first, setting a record year of wins that stands out as Virtus. pro’s best season of competition.
However, when it came to The International, Virtus.pro would struggle to break into the grand finals of the event, exiting both TI7 and TI8 at a 5-6th place, typically losing due to some small hiccups during games that the more experienced teams of Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid could exploit. The Virtus.pro squad felt frustrated after two years of deferred opportunities to win the Aegis, leading to the squad to decline slightly during 2019 before completely bottoming out at TI9, which saw Virtus. pro’s worst result at The International since 2014 when they were eliminated during the qualification stage of TI4.
After a disappointing 2020, the Virtus.pro roster would be sent in different directions, as the team wouldn’t recover from the departure of RAMZES666, 9pasha, and No[o]ne. Eventually, Solo himself would depart after a disappointing 7th-8th finish at OMEGA League EU, causing the team to implode on itself and for Virtus.pro to go inactive. A few months later, a new Virtus.pro squad would form, consisting of baby bears coming from Virtus. pro’s academy team, VP.Prodigy.
Virtus.pro – Recent Results & Roster Changes
The VP.Prodigy team would consist of players Save and Nightfall (formerly epileptick1d) who had previously played for Virtus.pro on a trial basis before playing for the academy squad. DM would be coming into the team after some time playing for Americas region team Chaos Esports Club. Gpk and Kingslayer (formerly Illias) would be coming from inactivity on rosters like Gambit Esports and NAVI.
2021 saw Virtus.pro dominating domestically but showing their inexperience at majors. VP managed to win both DPC Regional Leagues for CIS but showed disappointing results at the Singapore Major and AniMajor, where they took 7th-8th and 9th-12th, respectively. The team looked unfamiliar with international opponents, and their young age led to some anxiety playing in the main events of both majors. However, many expected Virtus.pro to perform well as long as they could keep their nervousness under wraps.
In online competitions such as ESL One Summer and Fall 2021, Virtus.pro would see better results, although most teams competing at these events were saving strategies and efforts for TI10. Virtus.pro would take second and third at both events, respectively, losing out to T1 and PSG.LGD, the best teams of their respective regions. By this point, many fans and analysts pegged Virtus.pro as the CIS favorites, noting gpk and Nightfall’s spectacular core hero gameplay.
Throughout the group stages of TI10, Virtus.pro would have strong showings against all their opponents except T1 and Invictus Gaming, winning nearly all their series 2-0. The Dota 2 main event of TI10 saw Virtus.pro managing to avoid one of their biggest obstacles, as PSG eliminated T1.LGD in a separate group of the upper bracket, leading VP into a match against PSG.LGD in round 2, which they could win if the first game goes in their favor. For the rest of TI10, the game’s name is prevention: preventing stress, preventing mistakes, and preventing lost lanes.
Virtus.pro – Predictions for TI10
PSG. LGD’s game against Vici Gaming showed that Virtus.pro can bounce back from losses and recover momentum from shutting out games. Virtus.pro has also been one of the teams to succeed with relatively unusual picks, such as the safelane carry Dawnbreaker, offlane Underlord, and support Pugna. The creativity in Virtus. pro’s drafts that enable them to play with the meta while also incorporating their comfort/pocket picks enabled Virtus.pro to create surprise victories for themselves.
Virtus.pro excels in playing an aggressive style that prioritizes team fights that lead to objectives, a playstyle emulative of Chinese teams of the past. However, Virtus.pro are more flexible in their playstyle and can switch from an aggressive, brawly playstyle to a reactive and execution-focused playstyle should the game necessitate such a change. The in-game versatility helps Virtus.pro stand out from the other Dota 2 teams competing at TI10.
Their biggest weakness can be attributed to their inexperience and age, as many of the players on the VP roster have little experience playing international LANs and TI10 will be their first time competing at The International. Experienced teams such as Team Secret, Evil Geniuses, and PSG.LGD will capitalize on this inexperience even if the Virtus. pro’s mechanics and team cohesion match or exceed their own. While the team has shown solid mental and emotional fortitude so far, the stress of The International could likely manifest if the team is knocked down to the lower bracket.
Virtus. pro’s games are ultimately their own to lose. They don’t show any significant weaknesses in terms of playstyle, so teams will have to take advantage of their inexperience. With TI10 lacking an audience, chances are VP is in a good state to continue performing at their peak as they won’t have to contend with stage fright and can easily separate the event from their performance in-game. Betting on the Dota 2 team Virtus.pro to win TI10 is ultimately a safe bet, as their performance shows them to be one of the best teams at TI10.