Throughout TI5, and since about Christmas this year, I have been supporting a team called Virtus Pro. Well, sort of. Over the year the squad that it has become now has gone through many iterations, first being called NVMI (A Russian acronym which translates as “we’re lucky; we’re playing) when they were newly formed then Virtus Pro Polar, when they were picked up as a 2nd squad for the esports organisation Virtus Pro, then on to ASUS.Polar and then finally to Virtus Pro when the organisation merged their two squads. As it stands their squad is currently comprised of
1. Illidan Stormrage
5. fng (Captain)
I have, as is the standard in Dota, arranged them in order of “farm priority.” Illidan, as a 1st position carry I find sometimes underwhelming. He’s very capable of getting farmed and his hyper aggressive play-style works well in some situations but, in my opinion, it often leads to near misses and lucky escapes. However, I think he is the perfect player for this team as, overall, they boast a very aggressive lineup, with God and DKPhobos just waiting for the starting pistol a bit longer than Illidan. That’s why I think Illidan has struggled over the years as a professional Dota player as, often, his team have not played the required way to back him leading to almost half of his titles coming while I have supported him. He has been with this iteration of Virtus Pro since they were formed as NVMI. His Drow Ranger (one of my favourite heroes) play has also been questionable in the past.
Next we have God, who was brought onto the team when VP and ASUS.Polar merged. He is their midlaner and, on some days, he is the best midlaner in the world, recently having often out farmed Illidan in their games. In the current meta I would argue that your midlane player is the player who can make or break the game for you, especially at such a high level of play. From what I understand, he didn’t used to be the refined professional that he is now, often “tilting” in his games. Tilting is where, once you start doing badly, you become aware of it and then start doing worse and you become aware of that, and then the cycle continues.
DKPhobos only recently returned to the world of esports, first retiring in 2012 he started with NVMI and, after briefly playing for team Na’Vi, he returned when they were still called ASUS.Polar. It is difficult for me to judge offlaners as I think it is the most difficult position to play in a team. Your basic role is to not die in lane, as you will be laning against the enemy carry and you do not want to give them more farm than they need, however, you still need to play an active role in contesting the lane. That said, he is one of the more sought after offlaners in the CIS region and so many people think he is one of the top offlane players.
Lil boasts the best Visage stats in the world, and also plays a more than stellar Rubick. He first started playing professional Dota 2 when NVMI was formed and is now respected by Dota players world wide, particularly on said heroes. Again, I think he is a great player and, while I thought his style was rather timid at first, being new to the scene, he quickly became comfortable playing against strong opponents and fng often drafts around Lil’s Visage.
Finally we have fng, my favourite player. Originally playing for Power Rangers, also as captain, he left to join Na’Vi last year but, after a string of bad results which, from an outsider’s perspective, I put down to a generally low mood and lack of coordination and companionship in the team, he was removed and replaced by Goblak (who had an even shorted tenure on Na’Vi) From there he became one of the founding members of NVMI and still captains the team. It was he who first attracted me to support Virtus Pro and his drafts, often a little on the experimental side, often impress me. He’s not afraid to do what he knows works but, if he wants to try something out, he knows that his team will give him all they can.
I guess here we come on to why I support Virtus Pro. When I started watching professional Dota 2 I support Na’Vi. The first thing I watched was TI3 and my friend said Na’Vi were the fan favourites and so I decided to support them. They came second in TI3 and then I didn’t really think about Dota 2 for another year and then a friend of mine mentioned that TI4 was coming soon, so I once against supported Na’Vi and watched a lot more Dota around that time, eventually leading to the current obsession I have with playing it. Na’Vi hadn’t been doing well for a while before TI4, I had discovered, and a lot of changes happened to their roster during the last year. As an aside, I think they have a very capable roster at the moment and they seem to gel very well together. But moving on.
When fng was captain I thought that hsi drafts were very impressive. He showed an understanding of the game mechanics that was greater than most captains of the time and, having watched him play, I liked his style. Unfortunately Na’Vi wasn’t the place for him and I continued to support Na’Vi for a while because, in my opinion, following one team closely is the best way to learn about the professional scenes of any sport that you have little to no prior knowledge of. Na’Vi, later in 2015 under Goblak’s leadership whom, in my opinion, has not adapted well to the ever changing face of Dota, lost to a little known team called Virtus Pro.Polar whom, to my surprise, had fng in it. After watching VPP go on to come 2nd in the tournament; Starladder Series XI, I decided to turn my coat on Na’Vi to follow VPP. VIrtus Pro aped the old, more successful Na’Vi style but with more focus on the meta-game at hand. Aggressive, exciting and, for the most part, reliable, they can contest with the best in the world, and perhaps call themselves one of them.
The unfortunate thing is that, while I would like to see Virtus Pro in the finals of TI5, I think that their lack of experience playing against Chinese teams, who have a drastically different style of play, will hinder them, though they have shown that they are more than capable of beating any Western team, including Team Secret, the current 1 team in the world. If I had to predict which place they will come then I would say 4th. The could do better but they could do much worse and I think 4th is a rational prediction, though it’s possible that they could go all the way.