The Final Virtus Throw
One of the oldest lineups of Counter Strike, Virtus Pro, seems to be ready to break up, after a run of poor performances, ending with the most recent one at CEVO Series 9. What exactly happened that changed everything for VP?
Just a few days ago, Cevo Gfinity Professional Series 9 kicked off, with teams such as Tempo Storm, Dignitas and SK participating. Virtus Pro (VP) was a clear favourite in this tournament, they were the most experienced and seasoned players there. However, Virtus.Pro lost the tournament in the end, and Cevo Series 9 showed very little promise for the future of one of the oldest lineups in Counter Strike. Is what TaZ said true? Is VP's time really up?
Virtus Pro has been a bad performer online for a while now. However, it seems their offline performances tend to make up for that. These were their last two performances in high-tier offline tournaments;
MLG Columbus Major:
Virtus Pro found themselves in a group with Natus Vincere (Na'Vi), G2 and Cloud9. VP stomp G2 in the BO1, only dropping 1 round, but then receive similar treatment from Na'Vi. In the BO3 match to get out of groups, VP met G2 once again, and won 2-1 to get out of group stages. They were then 2-1'd by Luminosity, who won the major after this. Overall a decent performance.
Malmo also showed promise for Virtus Pro. They sailed out of group stages, beating out FaZe and Tempo Storm. They then met NiP in the quarter finals and lost 2-0 to them. However, NiP ended up winning Malmo.
These two performances were close together, but they showed that Virtus Pro were still competent on LAN. Due to their recent form, they were heavy underdogs in both quarter final match-ups, and the teams ended up winning the respective tournaments, so its not as if those teams were weak either.
CEVO Series 9 changed all of this. Virtus Pro was the only obvious Tier 1 team in this league. The other strong contenders were mostly up-and-coming teams. Here is a round-up of all seven teams;
Dignitas had a strong performance at Malmo, but they couldn't show us anything at MLG since they did not qualify. They are a strong team though, and the closest to Tier 1 out of the opposition.
Tempo Storm have also been up and comers for a while now, and the Brazilian squad has shown promise to grow. However, they are relatively new to the scene.
Selfless, Splyce and OpTic all seem like strong NA teams, but they have not had too many offline performances.
HellRaisers have been performing for a while, but they have just had a roster change. They look stronger, but it should have taken time to settle.
SK are an exciting new Danish team, but their performances have been all over the place.
Splyce vs Virtus Pro
So this should have been VP's tournament, but everything went awry. Their first match was against Splyce. Splyce have had exciting runs and poor outcomes. Splyce did not qualify for the qualifiers of the MLG Columbus Major, so they were pretty much out of the major completely. However, luck struck the team as teams such as Mongolz, Cyberzen and the Chiefs could not get VISAs to go for the qualifiers, and Splyce was their next choice. At the qualifiers, they were the first team to qualify, surprising everyone. At the major, they bombed.
Splyce wandered on to Mirage for the first map. It looked like that should have started an easy 2-0 for VP. The first half was easily secured by VP, and the score was 10:5 as VP went to the t-side. But just when it looked like it was done and dusted, Splyce began a solid recovery and took the lead on Mirage. VP then dragged the map back and won it 16:14.
Then came Cobblestone, and Splyce looked solid on this map. VP had no answer to Splyce's aggression and won the half 10:5. This time, VP couldn't really claw back, and Splyce levelled the series 1-1.
Overpass ended with a 11:4 half-time score in favour of VP, and ended with VP winning the series 2-1. But there was a solid chance that Splyce could have actually 2-0'd VP on Mirage itself. This was a shaky start for the Poles, and it got a whole lot shakier.
VP vs Hellraisers
VP's second match was against the new HellRaisers. They looked much stronger than Splyce, and their new teammate, Bondik, is no stranger to performing on LAN, as he used to be the star performer for Flipsid3. This should have been a close match-up, but ultimately VP's to win. However, somehow VP were 2-0'd by HellRaisers. Credit where credit is due, HellRaisers looked as if they brought their A-game, but it seemed to be the same old problems for VP. It was not expected that VP would be in the relegation match with OpTic.
OpTic vs VP
However, OpTic were smashed by Virtus Pro. This was the only performance that went exactly as expected. Not much fuss, not much noise, and VP completing two 3:12 first halves to pretty much close the map. That was exactly how the game against Splyce should have looked, but it shows their inconsistency on LAN, and that inconsistency costed them in their final matchup, against Tempo Storm.
Tempo Storm vs Virtus Pro
Virtus Pro have dragged their feet all the way into the semi finals, now it's time to close. They are meeting a strong Tempo Storm, but that should not have been a problem, as their experience should carry them through. However, once again, VP make a large fight of this matchup, and they lose.
Virtus Pro started out by banning cobble, which was interesting, since it meant that they left Dust 2 in. VP play very little Dust 2, and so it was pretty much a gifted map for Tempo Storm. Tempo Storm 16:9'd VP on Dust 2 and started their march to victory.
Then came Train, a chance to even the odds. Train is vastly considered VP's map; it's the map they look most comfortable on. Tempo Storm, however, seem to also like Train, so it looked like it was going to be a fight. It wasn't. VP won 7 rounds to Tempo Storm's 16, with a poor 12:3 half loss.
Inferno seemed to put the brakes on Tempo Storm. Virtus Pro came out in their dominating fashion, the same way they did against OpTic. They just outperformed and outskilled the Tempo Storm side, and closed the map 16:4
Cache was a much longer fight, and VP had to win this to get to the third map. Tempo Storm won the first half 9:6, but it wasn't entirely convincing. VP were always right behind them in terms of rounds, and 6 rounds on T-side is a good performance. VP showed that 6 rounds was enough by narrowly closing out the map with a 16:14 scoreline.
The final map was once again Mirage. Virtus Pro's old stronghold, and they looked good on it against OpTic. But as soon as the game started, the "Virtus Throw" came into effect. It was odd, but Tempo Storm did not struggle in shutting down every attempt the veterans had on the T-side, and ended the half 12:3. VP clawed back, but there were just too few rounds in that score. Tempo Storm won 16:11, VP were sent home.
Tempo Storm went on to win the tournament, but this result was clearly a huge blow on morale. TaZ's post seals the deal for Virtus Pro, something is going to happen. And according to their performance here, it's going to have to be something big. This was a tournament VP should have looked good at, and instead they fought tooth-and-nail at almost every stage, and with Tempo Storm, the jig was up. There was no more comeback, no more great finish. They were defeated on the very map the old VP were considered gods on, and it is fitting that a loss on Mirage sent them back this tournament. Make no mistake, VP are a team with incredibly strong players, but maybe after 704 official maps as Virtus Pro alone, it is time to change something. Hopefully in CEVO Series 10, we will see the new, regenerated VP, ready to win once again!