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| 31. August 2021

Dota 2 History Series #2: Virtus.pro’s Glory Days and Humble Beginnings

Virtus.pro is one of the oldest organizations in esports. It’s been around since 2003 and its Dota 2 division was created in June, 2012. After close to a decade, it’s clear that the CIS region has a lot of talented players both in CS:GO and Dota 2. In this article, the focus point will be VP’s Dota 2 results over the last 9 years and its chances at the next edition of The International.

A Brief History of Virtus.pro

VP ventured into Dota 2 just one year after the first edition of The International. No doubt, Na’Vi’s success played a big role in their decision. Up until that point, making large amounts of money from esports events was a hard thing to imagine. But Valve made it all possible and started a snowball that would become immense over the next 10 years. Nowadays, Dota 2 events have prize pools ranging from $100,000 to millions of dollars. And The International 10 is off-the-charts in this regard: $40 million.

The first roster of Virtus.pro consisted of many players that are still around. Some have transitioned to casting and streaming while others are still competing at the highest level. If you’re from the CIS region, you’ve probably heard of Dread and NS. And if you’re watching Dota 2 events regularly, then you certainly know who KuroKy is.

It may sound strange nowadays to mention KuroKy as part of a CIS team. But back in the old days, he played not only for Virtus.pro but also Natus Vincere. And he was part of the 2013 Na’Vi roster that lost the Grand Final of The International against Alliance.

Humble Beginnings

Virtus.pro did not take off right away. In fact, they needed more than one year to start getting decent results at significant tournaments and their first TI participation was a major disappointment: 13th – 16th place. The 2013 – 2014 season wasn’t any better but the team made it to The International again, only to be humiliated for the second time in a row: 18th – 19th place.

The first iteration of VP was the one from 2014 – 2015. That season, the team won multiple big events, finished in the top 4 of several more and then obtained its best result ever at The International 2015: 5th – 6th place. However, the very next season, VP completely lost its way and struggled to find important results at key events. But the biggest disappointment came toward the end, when the team failed to qualify for The International 6.

The Glory Years

dota2 virtuspro lil 1

Virtus.pro became the great team we know today, although with a completely different roster, at the start of the 2016 – 2017 season. Initially, their new roster was made up of RAMZES, No[o]ne, 9pasha, Lil, and Solo. Along the way, Lil would get swapped with RodjER, a move that made VP even stronger.

With its new roster, VP managed to do great things. Solo proved to be an exceptional captain and his “322” incident was completely forgotten. In every role, the team had a highly competent player who knew exactly how to take advantage of every situation.

The first success came at The Summit 6, where VP defeated OG in the Grand Final. Then came The Boston Major, a tournament in which VP finished 5th – 8th, which was a great result for them at the time. For the next 4 – 5 months, the team struggled to find success. But in April 2017, at The Kiev Major, they nearly won the biggest trophy in the organization’s history. Coached by Artstyle, VP had a 2 – 1 lead in the Grand Final against OG. In the end, OG won the match. But this was just the beginning for the CIS crew.

Several small trophies followed after the Major, a 5th – 6th place at EPICENTER 2017, and then a 5th – 6th place at The International 2017. The team that ended their Lower Bracket run was Team Liquid, which would then go on to win the Aegis of Champions for the first time. The captain of that team was KuroKy, VP’s former player. No doubt, it was a bittersweet feeling for VP’s management.

The Peak

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The 2017 – 2018 season was full of events. The Dota Pro Circuit format was introduced that year and every tournament organizer seems to have had the same idea: “let’s put our org on the esports map!” Virtus.Pro managed to win a lot of tournaments and finished the regular season in 1st place, with 12372 qualification points for TI 8. Needless to say, it was among the top 8 teams that received a direct invite to the tournament. Since then, the rule has been modified to include the top 12 teams instead of the top 8.

Because of everything that had occurred during the season, VP was now expected to win The International 8. But the pressure got the best of them and they ended up losing to Evil Geniuses and their new captain, Fly. The CIS squad finished the race in 5th – 6th place, but decided to stick together despite this setback. This proved to be a great decision in the 2018 – 2019 season, in which they played in the Grand Final of 3 of the 4 Majors. They only won the first but the performance was still very impressive. Overall, Virtus.pro finished the regular season in 2nd place, less than 1000 points below Team Secret.

At The International 9, VP dropped the ball. It’s not clear what happened, because the team had finished 3rd at EPICENTER Major just 2 months earlier. But the result was bad: 9th – 12th place. And this time, the players or perhaps the management lost their patience and wanted a change. This pretty much ended VP’s glory years, until the org would find a great academy team and then turn that academy team into its main roster. This happened toward the end of 2020.

VP’s Current Form and Its Chances at The International 2021

With its new roster, made up of Nightfall, gpk, DM, Save-, and Kingslayer, Virtus.pro obtained a lot of great results. I wouldn’t compare the success of this roster to that of the best roster in the history of the team, but it’s still significant: 1st place at EPIC League Season 2 Division 1, 1st place in the Upper Division of Eastern Europe’s DPC 2021 Season 1, 1st place in the Upper Bracket of Eastern Europe’s DPC 2021 Season 2, and 2nd place at ESL One Summer 2021. The team also finished 3rd at ESL One Fall 2021, 7th – 8th at ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021, and 9th – 12th at WePlay AniMajor.

These results suggest that Virtus.pro is likely to get another top 6 result at The International this year. In fact, they might surpass their best result at the tournament and finish 3rd or 4th.