Virtus Pro have been one of the stand out teams since the release of Counter-Strike Global Offensive, and as such amassed a sizable fan base. The team most recently succeeded in the Dreamhack Masters tournament held in Las Vegas netting a $200,000 prize this February.
From there it has been a consistent line of under-performances in each tournament, exiting IEM Katowice (2017) in the group stages in front of a bewildered home crowd. Just as many experts were placing the crown on VP, it seems as though they faded into obscurity.
This descent into oblivion is highlighted especially through the 16-1 loss to Heroic in their disastrous ESL Pro-League campaign which saw them relegated. Among these results there were also 16-2 losses to Ninjas in Pyjamas, a 2-0 relegation series loss versus BIG and a further 2-0 relegation loss against PENTA.
Many Virtus Pro fans, and neutral fans, will be hoping that this is a slump. The often overlooked fact is that there are many up and coming young teams who have the power to outplay Virtus Pro. The hunger that up and coming teams have is a vital aspect of any professional team. It is the desire to get better that drives them towards minor tournament wins, as BIG have recently done with their EU Minor win. It may not be long before we see teams such as Immortals, BIG and PENTA reaching the final/semi-finals of a major over the next few months.
The bigger question remains though, will VP? The reluctance for companies and organizers alike to drop Virtus Pro insists that they should still be competing at the highest level. Their performances say something different however. It is the contrast between fans bringing in money with the likes of Virtus Pro compared to the draw BIG have that completely is not fair on fans at all. Teams, by right should earn their way to tournaments rather than being handed spots due to status over skill.
The prime example of this is the most recent Clash For Cash series which has seen Virtus Pro and Astralis fight it out in a best of three for $250,000. This sum by rights could field an entire prize pool for a whole tournament, yet a team who, at this point in time can barely make it out the groups gets a free run to the ‘final’.
Regardless of past meetings I’m sure anyone would rather have seen a team like SK, FaZe or G2 take on Astralis in what would have been a more relevant matchup.
That is not to say that VP are not a bunch of insanely skilled players, it is just that at this moment in time they are not performing. How many times do they get a chance to play over a team that actually deserves it. Invitational tournaments usually end up missing one or two teams that by right should be there in lieu of teams that have been underachieving. There came a time that NiP stopped getting the invite in their slump, so when do Virtus Pro hit that wall?
There are many more teams waiting in the wings that would stand a better chance than Virtus Pro currently do, teams that deserve their shot on the big stage and their time to gain more fans in the way Virtus Pro have done over the years. Without adaptation and evolution we will see a harsh reality banking on the cash cows of yesteryear.
As previously mentioned, we have seen BIG win the EU Minor. Gambit have also won the DreamHack Astro Austin Open, Immortals topped their group at DreamHack Open Summer beating SK in the process. Even Liquid made the semi-finals of the ESL Pro-League Finals. Is it fair to stand in the way of these teams purely due to the ‘legacy’ a team has? Surely not.
Virtus Pro can always make a miraculous comeback, but CS can’t wait forever. There has to be progression within the scene and that inevitably means the teams who once dominated will either retire or fade back into folklore. Clinging onto the past has never done anyone any good and it certainly won’t help the professional scene of Counter-Strike develop in any positive way.
Featured image courtesy of ESL One.