The International has had winners from all regions: CIS, Europe, North America and multiple winners from China. For CIS though, the victory seems like a long time ago. You know why that is? Because it was a long time ago when Natus Vincere defeated EHOME 3-2 at TI 1 to claim victory in Germany. Since then, there has been no CIS winner, although Na’Vi did end up in the finals twice after that.
This year, there is a strong chance of the title going back to the CIS region through Virtus.pro. And I know what you’re thinking – Wasn’t that the case last year as well? It was. Virtus.pro did look strong last year as well, but they didn’t seem like the forerunners. The CIS outfit was doing pretty well until they ran into the unexpected wall of LFY, who were last year’s surprise package and later eliminated by eventual winners Team Liquid in a tough three-game series. This year though, they have made a statement through their performances in the season. Not just that, they also have a change in personnel as Vladimir ‘RodjER’ Nikogosyan has joined them this year in the search for the Aegis. Heading to Vancouver, the team led by captain Alexei ‘Solo’ Berezin will have a lot of expectations on their shoulder to deliver on the ultimate stage.
– Roman ‘RAMZES666’ Kushnarev
– Vladimir ‘No[o]ne’ Minenko
– Pavel ‘9pasha’ Khvastunov
– Vladimir ‘RodjER’ Nikogosyan
– Alexei ‘Solo’ Berezin
– Ivan ‘Artstyle’ Antonov (Coach)
Virtus.pro General Stats:
Total games played: 175
Games won: 121
Win rate: 69.14%
Total heroes played: 102 (unpicked heroes – Arc Warden, Bristleback, Drow Ranger, Ember Spirit, Enigma, Huskar, Keeper of the Light, Lone Druid, Phoenix, Riki, Techies, Visage, Zeus)
Tournaments won: 5 (1 Minor, 4 Majors)
Virtus.pro started off the season on the backfoot, losing to Team Empire in the qualifier for the first Minor. But that was just VP stale from their TI 7 defeat. The Virtus.pro wrecking ball took off from the first Major of the season when they convincingly beat Team Secret 2-0 to claim the ESL One Hamburg Masters. Solo won the player for best player, which also included a Mercedes Benz! ESL was a source of stable income for VP as they won all three Majors organized by them. The VP train got derailed a bit for the next few Minor events. Team captain Solo did not make go with the team due to a spat with Ilya ‘Lil’ Ilyuk, so coach Artstyle stood in as the position 5 support. Even with that lineup though, VP manages to grab the plaudits at ‘The Summit 8’, which was the last DPC event of the season.
At the start of the new year, the team did join back together to play ESL One Genting, but lost in horrible fashion to Evil Geniuses. There was talk of the curse and how VP just could not beat EG, but the truth was cracks were developing inside the team. Before the next event, which was the ESL One Katowice Major, Lil transferred to Na’Vi and RodjEr came to VP. A lot of heads were raised around the community and the question was asked on whether RodjEr could fill LiL’s boots. But RodjEr did one better. Not only did play a crucial role in winning the next two Majors in succession (ESL One Katowice and PGL Bucharest), he also won the best player award at Katowice and took home a Mercedes. This was where VP peaked and looked unbeatable. The period from January 2018 to March 2018 was their most successful, with a win rate of 74.36% (29 wins in 39 games).
In the last three months of the season, VP blew hot and cold. This was the time of the season when PSG.LGD started coming alive and taking the game to VP and Liquid. At Epicenter XL though, VP were on the wrong side of one of the upsets of the season when the team that had come through the Madness Qualifier, FlyToMoon (Winstrike now) beat them 2-0. That was where Virtus.pro’s form declined and as the graph shows, the win rate fell from what it was at the start of the year. A lot of these rise and falls are also to do with the changing patches. After taking a break for MDL Changsha, VP came back strong for ESL One Birmingham and won it. No surprises right? This time it was Vladimir ‘No[o]ne’ Minenko’s turn to win the Merc! History repeated itself in the last Major of the year as the CIS outfit went down fighting 2-3 to Team Liquid, a fate similar to the 2016-2017 season when VP lost 2-3 to OG in the grand finals of the Kiev Major.
Most Played Heroes in the 2017-2018 DPC Season
Virtus.pro’s top 10 most played heroes for the 2017-2018 season
Virtus.pro’s most played hero combos for the 2017-2018 season
You might find that a lot of times, VP played the same heroes over and over. Even though a certain hero would be nerfed and teams would have an idea of how to play with it, VP still picked it and won with it, because they were that good at it. Even in the hero combos, a lot of the heroes repeat pairing with different heroes. Sand King is a hero that has only been nerfed in the past year. Yet, VP managed to maintain a win rate of more than 80% with it. Sand King also features in four of their top seven combos, and that is all RodjEr’s doing. When he came in, VP started playing a lot more SK and Chen, two heroes that yielded good results for Virtus.pro. Of the list of 10 most played heroes, the lowest win rate is on Bane, which is 67.86%. That is pretty insane.
One of the factors that makes Virtus.pro a top team is the versatility in the team. Most teams will play the Death Prophet in the mid lane, but VP are happy to put Ramzes on a safelane DP. Omniknight can go offlane with Pasha, but there have been times when Ramzes has played a safe lane Omni, once with Battlefury! When Dragon Knight was having the time of his life being picked or banned in nearly every game, all three cores of VP played the hero perfectly, which made it difficult to draft against them. Additionally, as required, either of the two main cores take up the sacrificial role or the early fighting role leaving the other on the majority of the farm. The only thing that remains constant in the team is position 6 Solo, who has maybe Tranquil Boots and a Wand in 30 minutes! But hey, he is one of the best business playing that role.
Virtus.pro have shown they are one of the top teams in the world, if not the top team at the moment. Winning four Majors is no small feat and VP seemed to do it with ease. The test in Vancouver will be the final frontier for VP and success will depend on whether or not they can hold their own. They have the experience, they have the personnel. VP is one of the few teams that can probably boast about having a top three player in every position. The two final Majors showed how much the team can pick up from a small break and scrim time. Imagine what a good month and a half will do for the team. I expect VP to come all guns blazing in Vancouver. This is pretty much the team to beat. If anyone wants to snatch that Aegis, they will have to go through the CIS Polar Bear!