TI 7 profile: Firecrackers and Fireworks - Virtus.Pro's dazzling display

Posted by Cristy "Pandoradota2" Ramadani at 27 July 2017 10:30

From the first spark ignited, Virtus.Pro was explosive and burst onto the scene with a sonic boom that resonated deep within and with an echo that resounded for a year.

They were a dazzling display of talent, a spectacle of color - vibrant against the backdrop of darkness they had come from and the stars they were aiming to land among.

Lighting the Fuse

On June 30th, Virtus.Pro CEO, Anton 'Sneg1' Cherepennikov had dissolved the entire Dota 2 roster after the team’s lamentable track record for the season and failure to qualify for The International 6. Over and over again the team had struggled to find any sustainable results and were constantly knocked back down to the bottom with another loss in hand - only to pick themselves up again and try once more. The powerhouse of an organization finally had enough, drew the line in the sand, cleaned house including management staff and now seemed to intent to toe it without any nonsense.

The announcement on August 5th came with the typical pomp and circumstance one has come to expect from teams revealing their new rosters. A new beginning surrounded by hype and promise of a bright future - a natural recourse following the previous lackluster season.

On paper, reading the new roster to be led by Alexey 'Solo' Berezin fans were not quite sure what to expect. The team was a mix of dynamic personalities  - brazen, bursting with flashes of brilliance and even a bit noisy. The news left many scratching their heads, trying to figure out what the mix of chemistry would yield as an end result.

First Sparks

It took three months for the answer to appear. At the end of September, BTS EU Series 4 had come to an end and crowned Virtus.Pro the new champions. The completely revamped roster had taken their first title for the new season and demonstrated a very strong start and performance. It was just the spark that ignited a firestorm of achievements in the upcoming 8 weeks.

Only one week following their first title, VP had the fortuitous luck and nod of recognition given to them when OG, Evil Geniuses, and Team Secret were replaced by Team NP, Imperial, and Virtus.Pro for DreamLeague Season 6. Answering the call to step in on a moment’s notice the team would eventually need to withdraw from the event due to an extraordinary schedule that ended up flooding their calendar. Virtus.Pro were firing on all cylinders barreling through events and qualifiers and taking coveted spots for LANs. Between October and the end of November, the team began upsetting and decimating tournament favorites and top tier teams.

Mid October the team claimed the coveted EU spot for the Summit 6, their first LAN for the new season after they overwhelmed Ad Finem, 3:1 in the region’s Grand Finals. Only one week later Virtus.Pro became the second team to qualify for Dot Pit Season 5 defeating Team Empire 3:0 for the CIS regional spot.

Their momentum propelled them forward at skyrocketing speed and awe. Merely three days later, a knockout performance granted them the top seed in the EU Boston Major qualifier playoffs. Running through the group stage with relative ease, they dropped only one game to Ad Finem for an 8:1 final record and the top spot. Then, they reached new heights. Days later Virtus.Pro punched their tickets for Boston Major.

Once lit, nothing seemed to be able to extinguish the fuse. Continuing to fan the flames, a week after securing their place in the Major, Virtus.Pro became the first team to qualify for ESL One Genting 2017 after besting OG 2:3 in the Grand Finals of the qualifying event.

No one could help but to stop and stare in awe at the spectacle unfolding before our eyes. Mesmerizing, the team had painted the Dota 2 landscape with color and pop.

As fall approached, The Summit 6 started with a bang. Virtus.Pro were hands down the clear winner of the first day, advancing into the Upper Bracket finals. The team had blown away the competition to become a somewhat surprising front runner. After knocking the Chinese powerhouse EHOME down, then absolutely shellacking the TI6 champions, Wings Gaming, 2:0 they ended OG’s flawless run in the event to take the first spot in the grand finals. There, they thumped over OG 3:0 to walk away with the title and further tighten their grip on their newfound form.

Snuffed out

From the sunny hills of Los Angeles, California for the Summit, Virtus.Pro traveled to the chilly East Coast of the US to Boston for their first Major appearance with the new roster. It was only two weeks between events and the team had been running on a single tank of gas since erupting onto the scene.

Boston Major started out just perfect for Virtus.Pro as they shut out their opponents with spectacular performances landing the top seed for the main event. Once again, the team had put on another performance that held us captive. A double rampage by Vladimir 'No[O]ne' Minenko closed out their first match against Team NP in less than 30 minutes with a score of 19:3. Not to be outdone, or disappoint his fans, the Ukrainian followed it up to end VP’s second game with another rampage. Between both matches in Virtus.Pro’s opening series No[o]ne achieved five rampages. The dominating CIS squad then carried on to destroy Newbee in a 2:0 sweep, ending their night with a thrilling comeback.

However, Virtus.Pro – the new titans of the professional scene, struggled against their opponents in the main event and were eventually knocked out by EG in the single elimination brackets taking a disappointing 5-8th finish. The gas in the tank seemed to be starting to drain.

One month later in January Virtus.Pro took 3-4th at ESL One Genting 2017. Virtus.Pro’s woes continued to cast darkness on the CIS team’s results and prospects. The team encountered a myriad of trials since returning from Malaysia. Departing from the big island to then play in Dota Pit League Season 5 in Split, Croatia the following week. Virtus.Pro claimed a disappointing 5-6th place finish at the event at the end of January.

Playing two major LAN events, essentially back to back the team was now running on fumes as they headed home to participate in the DAC 2017 qualifiers less than a week later. There was little to no time for recovery or to fit anything else in the schedule and the team made the decision to withdraw from StarLadder iLeague StarSeries Season 3 one day prior to Phase 3 of the European qualifiers beginning.

They were then eliminated from DAC qualifiers due to default losses caused by internet issues and ultimately fired their Dota 2 manager. The strain from the string of events comes at a crucial time leading up to the Kiev Major qualifiers.

Their fire had gone ashen, all but extinguished. The team now had to turn their attention on the upcoming Kiev Major Qualifiers and attempt to relight the fuse that had once shattered into a thousand sparks. They had just over four weeks to prepare.

Reigniting the Fire

The time off proved to be essential for the CIS juggernauts. The team were quick on the uptake and once again shot out of the cannon with a bang.

A flawless run secured the team the top seed in the CIS Kiev Major qualifier playoffs. Virtus.Pro had barreled through the qualifiers like a beast, taking down all of their opponents without so much as breaking a sweat and remaining undefeated. They utterly dominated and emerged unscathed for the single spot to represent the region - and become the hometown heroes of the event.

The CIS team breezed through the group stage of the Kiev Major with compelling performances - dropping only one game to Team Random to take a second place group stage finish. Their journey through the playoffs were just as impressive, always coming out ahead and as the better team slaying all three of their Chinese opponents. Virtus.Pro had once again found themselves front and center of everyone’s attention with the air crackling with electricity and excitement. The team pushed OG to a five game thrilling and grueling grand finals but fell slightly short at the end, taking up the second place spot on the podium.

Once again, the next six weeks would become a dizzying exhibition of strength, stamina, and talent. The team had gone on to take 1st place in Mr. Cat Invitational, 4th at DreamLeague, 1st in the Russian esports Cup 2017, 5-6th at EPICENTER 2017 before heading once again to the United States to defend their Summit title - having gone full circle and ending the season where it all began at the BTS house in Los Angeles.

Contrary to what was expected of a team that could have been starting to run on fumes again, Virtus.Pro exceed expectations of an entertaining show. Fans were left standing with their mouths open gaping in awe as the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ were uttered in disbelief. Virtus.Pro had defended their title at the Dota Summit 7 by playing 81 unique heroes. Only four heroes were repeated throughout their entire series. A feat that began when the team was criticized for having a very limited hero pool.

The Grand Finale

Just as expected in a phenomenal pomp and circumstance of any sort, the show builds through time, reaching a heart racing climax. Going into The International 2017, the CIS team is considered to be on of the favorites and expected to perform at the same stellar caliber fans and opponents have come to expect from them. It can only be hoped that the grand finale of their year will be a blockbuster - ascending to new heights and leaving the smell of gunpowder under everyone’s noses and clouds of soot and ash beneath them.


Virtus.Pro roster:

Russia Alexey 'Solo' Berezin
Ukraine Ilya 'Lil' Ilyuk
Russia Roman 'Ramzes666' Kushnarev
Russia Pavel '9pasha' Hvastunov
Ukraine Vladimir 'No[O]ne' Minenko

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Will VP continue to impress and light up the event with their performances?

Yes for sure, can't wait!
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Maybe not, all brightness soon fades
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