Just what has happened to Virtus.Pro? One minute the Polish powerhouse was a Major runner-up and DreamHack Las Vegas champion, and the next it dropped out of IEM Katowice before the main event, got relegated from the ESL Pro League and ECS and then failed to win any matches at ESL One Cologne.
It certainly has not been an easy ride for the team, and clearly there are more than a few issues that really need to be cleaned up before the Major kicks off. To find out what has gone wrong and what they are doing to fix it Slingshot’s Mike Stubbs found Jarosław “pashaBiceps” Jarząbkowski at ESL One Cologne.
Mike Stubbs: First off, this event was probably not how you wanted it to go. In your mind, what went wrong?
Jarosław “pashaBiceps” Jarząbkowski: To be honest, in last half a year everything is going wrong. We lost everything, every single match. We change team leader, the strat caller. We need to adapt to his style, which is very hard.
MS: So why did you make that change of in-game leader in the first place? I want to say it was after Katowice, and that’s only one event where you kind of did poorly, so why did you make that change?
JJ: Sometimes the old leader need to have, like, a fresh mind. He needs to play better, so we decide to give change to Snax, and he wanted to lead, so if he wants to lead and he feels the game, why not?
MS: How different is it between the two in-game leaders? Is it a massive change, or is there still quite a few similarities?
JJ: If you change the leader, everything changes in the game. Everything. Positions, you can be, with one leader you can be sniper but not with the next, right, because the leader says, “you know, I have my vision, and we (are) gonna play better if we change this.” So it’s a big, big, big change.
MS: What will you change to make sure you do better at the Major?
JJ: To be honest, we strive (to) play more Counter-Strike. We strive (for) more focus on aim duels. But, you know, here at this event, our aim was not that good. So, we need to focus on everything, to be honest, on everything. On duels, on aims, you know, or calls, on everything, like strats. It’s not that easy.
MS: It’s fair to say that when playing online in the ESL Pro League and in ECS you guys didn’t have great results there either. Is playing online very different to playing on LAN for you guys?
JJ: We are LAN team, you know, everyone knows in our whole career, in 10 years. We have better results on LAN, right? The fresh people in esports have big pressure, so when they come on LAN, they (are) shaky, you know, stress and everything. So we have a big experience on LAN, right? But right now, it’s like, Polish internet is the biggest shit ever, really, so soon we have a new sponsor who (is) gonna fix this, I hope, and we can do some damage online. When you don’t have an invite, you have to fight online for a spot on LAN, so (it) is very important.
MS: You guys are quite a big name and so you do get the invites to LAN events like this. Are you worried that after this run of bad form that those invites might dry up when we come back from the player break?
JJ: Yeah. You know, there’s a lot better teams right now, right? It’s not enough to have the biggest fanbase in the world to get invited to events, so we need to worry about it and try to (get) back to our good performance and waiting for invites.
MS: You personally have been around for years, and have seen CS grow to what it is today. Do you think that the scene will continue to grow as quickly as it has, or do you think it’s kind of hit a peak?
JJ: I think one more year it (is) gonna be growing, but it is very hard to say. I am disappointed because, you know, now (we do) not have a betting match. The betting skins, this was very exciting. A lot of people, you know, betting skins, having fun, win some money, you know, it was good. So, if some can find the solution how to bet skins and be 18 or something like this, the game (is) gonna be like the biggest (the) game (has) ever been.
MS: So obviously when you stream, you obviously get quite a lot of viewers. You’re very enjoyable when you do stream. Do you think we could ever see a day where you stop playing competitively and just focus all on your stream?
JJ: To be honest, I am a guy who needs adrenaline and when you (are) at events, the adrenaline in me is very big. On streams I can (be) interactive with my fans, talking to them, play with them, but I need to be inside in the competition. Have a fight with players from other teams. So I need to be in the business and play. Streaming is very fine, but it’s not enough for me.
MS: We all know that you’re a very fit man, but how many times do you go to the gym a week?
JJ: Right now I have a big break. Because it’s a lot of events, I need to prepare a bit. But usually it’s three, four times per week. But you know, if you have a family and you have a practice every day for a few hours, you need to wake up very early. If I am not lazy, I wake up and if baby is not crying and baby is sleeping, it’s time for gym. If baby wake up before you, it’s shit. You (are) staying home.
MS: Finally, the football match against SK, what is all that about?
JJ: It’s gonna be fun. I think we want to show people that gamers, esport gamers, are not only lazy bums who only play (on the) computer all day. We want to show people we also can run and play nice football.
Cover photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE, illustration by Raphie Rosen