(Photo Credit: SteelSeries)
Virtus.pro are one of the greatest lineups in CS:GO history. But it looks like their last place finish at the ELEAGUE Boston Major was the straw that broke the camel's back. The team not making Legends status for the first time since DreamHack Winter 2013, changes seem imminent. With the rumors that Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas is being replaced by Michal “MICHU” Müller, the longest standing lineup in CS:GO history has most likely played its final tournament.
Virtus.pro has always been a team famous for keeping their roster intact. Despite slumps and under-performances throughout their time as a team, they’ve always found an internal solution within the team. Their ability to claw their way back to the top over the years has always been impressive, and a lot of that has come down to role changes. Whether it has been the ingame leader role switching between TaZ, Filip “NEO” Kubski and Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski or the AWP role switching between NEO, Snax and Jaroslaw “Pasha” Jarzabkowski, Virtus.pro have always found a solution that has given them new life as a team.
But ever since their victory at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas in February 2017, we have only seen sporadic appearances from the good old Virtus.plow. Their performance at EPICENTER in October gave people hope that things had turned around, but it turned out to be a onetime performance.
One of the most notable things about Virtus.pro over the last year has been the downfall of Snax. Going from one of the absolute top players in the world at the beginning of 2017, to nothing more than an above average player for the rest of the year has been a critical factor in Virtus.pro’s decline. Another thing to note about Virtus.pro has been that their star player has switched over the years, with Snax, Pasha and Pawel “Byali” Bielinski being the primary fragger of the team at different times. The thing that was noticeably different with the latest decline of Snax was that nobody else could step up and take over his role as the primary star. While Pasha played well for most of the year, he never reached the same level as Snax, and perhaps more importantly, he had almost no support from the rest of the squad.
If you look at the oldest members of Virtus.pro, there are even more issues. NEO has been wildly inconsistent, being the best rated player in Virtus.pro’s wins against top 15 teams since the player break, but the second worst rated player in Virtus.pro’s losses. TaZ has been a liability for the team for most of the year. Previously, he has been a specialist in certain spots on different maps, his overall level has slowly declined throughout the year.
While it’s easy to look at Virtus.pro and be impressed with their persistence to stick with the same roster and their ability to make it work time after time, it’s also important to look at their alternatives. Outside of Virtus.pro, the Polish scene has never truly been impressive. Individual players like MICHU, Jacek “MINISE” Jeziak and Mikolaj “mouz” Karolewski have all shown occasional good performances, but none of them have been able to play consistently well against top teams. Polish teams like AGO Gaming and Kinguin could never find the right team to take it to the next level and compete amongst the top teams. Sticking with a lineup for the amount of time that Virtus.pro has is impressive, but the alternatives within the Polish scene haven’t been jumping off the page.
With that said, certain players need a shot in a top team before we truly see them shine. Most recently, we’ve seen a player like Abay “Hobbit” Khasenov coming from seemingly out of nowhere. There is a possibility that certain players within the Polish scene will rise to the occasion once they get the opportunity to play for the biggest team in the region. Combine that with some of the internal issues within Virtus.pro that will disappear, and a much needed honeymoon period, it’s necessary for the team to finally take a chance on another player in the Polish scene.
It’s crucial for Virtus.pro to make the next couple of months work. They are still getting invited to big tournaments based on name value alone, but that cannot continue forever. With the team dropping out of ESL Pro League and losing their Legends status at the Majors, they might end up in a position where they will have to go through online qualifiers to make it to big events. Online play has been a big weakness of Virtus.pro for several years now, and if they end up in a spot where they have to qualify for events through online play, we might see the team fade away altogether.
For a team with legends like NEO, Pasha and Snax on the roster, it’s almost unreal how far they’ve fallen. The problems on Virtus.pro are almost too long to list and their most recent performance is perhaps the worst we’ve ever seen from the Poles. It’s finally time for Virtus.pro to make a change, and I would go as far as to say that it’s almost impossible for the change to make the team worse. It’s unlikely that we see Virtus.pro becoming the next SK Gaming in terms of results, but with the level of players they have in their team they should be able to contend for top 5 in the world. It’s time for a Virtus.pro rebirth, for the old Virtus.pro is as dead as can be.