theScore eSports is taking a look at all of the teams taking part in The International 5, two a day leading up to the beginning of the tournament. Today’s team is Virtus.pro. This will be both a history of the team as well as a look at the individual players that make up the roster headed to Seattle.
Predicting the strength of European teams competing in The International 2015 is difficult as they are all very close in terms of skill — that is, except Team Secret, who are on a completely different level.
That being said, after taking into account Virtus.pro’s most recent performances, the Russian team has a good chance of doing well at the upcoming event after their first place victory at DreamLeague Season 3, defeating Na’Vi 3-2 in the Grand Finals. The team also very recently won the Esportal Dota 2 League after defeating the Russian powerhouse, Team Empire, 3-2.
It’s a different story when it comes to international events, though. Virtus.pro’s most recent and most noteworthy result was a 3-4th place finish at ESL One Frankfurt 2015 after losing to Evil Geniuses 2-0 in the Semifinals. Although their quarterfinal win against Alliance is not as clear an indicator of how they will perform against top tier teams, they did secure first place in the Seeding Bracket by defeating Cloud9, Vici Gaming and Team Secret — whether or not those team’s took the Seeding Bracket seriously is up for debate.
Similar to Na’Vi, Virtus.pro are known for their extreme agression that has historically caught the more passive and defensive Chinese teams off guard.
Here is the team’s current roster that will be playing at The International 5.
Ilya "Illidan" Pivcaev is Virtus.pro’s safelane carry. The 23 year old Russian player has a turbulent history with Virtus.pro, playing for the team on and off since 2012 — he was kicked off the team twice after two disappointing runs at The International 3 and 4. His signature hero is Slark with a 66.67% win rate and 4.38 KDA over 81 professional matches. Despite the hero not being the most popular in the current meta, it’s very likely we will see Illidan play Slark during The International 5.
Sergey "God" Alexandrovich Bragin plays solo mid for Virtus.pro. Despite being only 23 years old, he is a veteran in the Dota 2 community as he placed 5th-6th in the very first International with his previous Russian team, Moscow Five. He then was picked up by LGD’s second team which provided him with more international experience against Chinese teams. His most played hero is Queen of Pain at 57 games however his win rate is only 50.88%.
Alexander "DkPhobos" Kucheria is Virtus.pro’s offlaner. The 25 year old veteran from Ukraine was a former member of DTS along with Dendi, Goblak and ArtStyle in the Dota 1 era. After taking a long break from competitive gaming he eventually was picked up by Virtus.pro in 2014 and despite leaving to join Na’Vi at the start of 2015, he quickly returned to Virtus.pro after only a month. He has a solid Centaur Warrunner and he has been recently doing very well with Tusk.
Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk is Virtus.pro’s 4 Position support. The Ukrainian player’s first professional team was NVMI which Virtus.pro quickly signed to create their Virtus.pro Polar team. After spending several months on Virtus.pro’s second team, he officially became part of the main team after they rebranded their Polar team as Virtus.pro. His most played hero is Skywrath Mage with a 57.14% win rate over 70 professional matches.
Artsiom "fng" Barshack has been playing support for Virtus.pro since the end of 2014. Hailing from Belarus, fng started his Dota 2 career on team Power Rangers where he spent a year with the team before leaving for Na’Vi. He only stayed with Na’Vi for a short time however as he was removed from the team after just three months. His most played hero is Vengeful Spirit, however he has recently been spending a lot of time playing Rubick and Winter Wyvern — his teammate Lil has such a similar skill set that they often times will switch between position five and position four support.
While the team as a whole has great communication and coordination skills, God’s recently improved mechanics and individual skill as a mid laner has been the main factor in Virtus.pro’s recent success. God has thrived in the latest patch with heroes such as Leshrac and Queen of Pain and has also been seen to swap positions with Illidan and run a safelane Bloodseeker; the hero is a popular pick due to the latest patch buffing Thirst and the increased cooldown on Teleport Scrolls. Besides these buffs, Team Secret’s games at ESL One Frankfurt 2015 may also have had something to do with it.
Virtus.pro’s early game aggression and focus on the laning phase gives them an advantage over other teams. After the comeback/rubber band mechanic was nerfed in the latest patch, their chaotic team fights and often risky plays will have a smaller chance of backfiring and allow them to close out the game early.
Additionally the team’s captain, fng, plays a deadly Winter Wyvern support that keeps his teammates alive during their messy team fights (not to say that they themselves are uncoordinated during team fights. As a spectator it’s sometimes hard to follow all the action going on at once).
Similar to Na’Vi’s playstyle, Virtus.pro’s extreme aggression has become almost too predictable, making it easy for the other teams to anticipate. Additionally, they tend to bite off more than they can chew, eespecially when trying to retreat from a losing team fight. Instead of sacrificing one player, they will risk their entire team in order to leave no man behind — this often results in the entire team being wiped while giving their opponent’s a massive net worth advantage.
Another weakness that separates them from the world’s best teams is their drafting ability. With ppd and s4 paving the way in terms of the current meta and strategy, the game of Dota 2 has become much more reliant upon the drafting phase. Also, while the team overall has great coordination, they lack the individual mechanics and execution that the players on Team Secret have — although God and Illidan are working on quickly closing that gap.
While Virtus.pro have proven that they have no trouble competeting against fellow European teams in DreamLeague Season 3, The International 5 will prove much more difficult with top tier Chinese teams and the two dominant western teams, Evil Geniuses and Team Secret attending.
If Virtus.pro remain consistent and calm during their opening games, I can see them making it as far as 5-6th place. Although the team’s results may be inconsistent at times, their mental composition is rock solid at LAN tournaments and I doubt even an event the size of The International will cause any nerve issues.
Connor Dunn is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow him on Twitter.