Virtus.Pro Launches Brand New CSGO Youth Roster, VP.Prodigy
Virtus.Pro has announced the foundation of a second CSGO roster, VP.Prodigy. Made up of young up and coming CSGO pros, and not intended to compete on the same level as their main roster, VP.Prodigy was a brainwave conceived after the youth Dota 2 roster found success.
On the new roster is:
- Aleksandr “mefixs” Ilukhin
- Serhii “muR” Hres
- Maxim “awesome” Zyuzko
- Vadym “h1glaiN” Tanasiuk
- Evgeny “Norwi” Ermolin
- Vladislav “flash_1” Bykov (coach)
The team is entirely constructed of rising stars from across CIS and Russia. This initiative should help to foster talent development in the region, and will likely serve to give young CSGO pros another reason to keep grinding.
In a time that’s been dominated by tier 2 and 3 players leaving the game for Valorant, this is very important, and a good sign that VP is still willing to invest more into their CSGO teams.
Trust in the Children
Youth squads aren’t anything new in esports, but these sort of academy squads typically aren’t taken very seriously by their parent organization. However, it’s clear that VP doesn’t agree with that sentiment and after seeing what VP.Prodigy has been able to do in Dota 2 (outclassing even the main roster, who was benched earlier today.)
It’s clear that after this success, VP is using this squad to do a few things – motivate their main roster, and possibly hedge their bets that this roster could end up being better than their main CSGO squad. That main CSGO squad has not been doing great as of recently, as even in the online age of CSGO where anything can happen, they’ve only won one small event from BLAST, the CIS Premier Cup. The rest of their results have been not so great, with a pair of third-place finishes being the highlight.
“After VP.Prodigy’s success in Dota 2 it became obvious that youngsters squads are the next big thing, that’s why we decided to continue on this path,” Sergey Glamazda, CEO of Virtus.Pro. “There are a lot of different tournaments right now for our second roster to participate in, without interfering with our first roster. Two squads can successfully coexist in the ecosystem. Launching a second roster is yet another way for us to display our eagerness to develop young players and esports in general.”
Most of the VP.Prodigy roster are unknowns in CSGO, players that have played on extremely small organizations. The exception would be H1glaiN, who played for ESPADA for most of 2019 before being released. Their coach, Flash_1, is a former pro player and played for a number of tier 3 orgainzations, most recently for Revolt back in February. He coached 100PingGods for most of 2020 before being brought onto VP.Prodigy.
“We started off this summer searching for a team leader — a coach capable of leading young players. We have watched a ton of demos together and communicated with lots of players,” Mikhail Artemyev, CSGO branch manager. “Our main goal was to find not only skilled players, but also interesting personalities who could avoid conflicts and work together as a team. As far as I can tell, we’ve managed to build a perfect squad in terms of team morale and potential.”
Academy Squads Coming Back Into Vogue
For those still confused as to why this is important, look at the current climate. Every day, more and more professional and amateur CSGO players are being attracted to the Valorant scene, which has a lot of money, interest, and that all-important shiny factor attracting these players. Add in the backing of Riot, a developer who consistently has shown that they will (for all their own faults) at the very least have an actual esports department and people who are passionate about growing the esport, unlike Valve’s hands-off style, and you have a recipe for players to leave their home game en masse.
It’s not a good environment for tier 2 and 3 organizations to invest in CSGO. Even well-established tier 2 and 3 grassroots teams, like Swole Patrol, haven’t been able to survive. And that’s why it’s up to the tier 1 organizations like Virtus.Pro, who might’ve fallen a bit by the wayside in terms of results, to invest in the next generation of CSGO players and nurture them. After all, a player who’s hungry is most likely to go where the money is, whereas a player that’s at least got some support of a major organization behind them is less likely to leave.
It’s a win/win from an organization level too. Players that perform well in the youth squad could be looked at as replacements for the main squad, or the main squad could be released altogether with the Academy squad taking on the challenge. This should serve to light a fire under the asses of the older players, knowing that they could be on the way out should they not step it up. Of course, they could always go and play Valorant instead…