Q&A: NEO talks about ELEAGUE and keeping the Virtus.pro roster together

Virtus.pro has been one of the most recognizable organizations in professional Counter-Strike for years, with the same roster being intact since January 2014. The team has managed the first half of this year despite some wonder about just how much longer that group might remain together.

The Polish team had a string of poor performances dating back to last year 2015, but a recent surge in form has removed many of the questions from those calling for a shakeup. After making the semifinals of ESL One Cologne, VP has made the semifinals of ELEAGUE and will play mousesports at 10 p.m. Friday.

Slingshot’s Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar caught up with Filip “NEO” Kubski during ELEAGUE’s Last Chance Qualifier to talk about this year, ELEAGUE and the team’s roster makeup.

Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar: Up until the ESL Cologne you guys had some struggles, the group stage at ELEAGUE you guys kinda were underperforming a bit. There were some other tournaments were things just didn’t seem to go well. What’s going through your mind as a team when you’re struggling that way, and were you even thinking about roster changes? 

Filip “NEO” Kubski: I think it’s much different different perspective from our side than from the old games and everyone else. Because we were not feeling that bad. We’ve been trying different setups, different in-game leaders, different roles in the team. So yeah, since a few months ago things starting working out for us and we finally found our game, and we were not that afraid and thinking of lineup changes. It’s a game, and you’re not gonna be able to be on the top spot for a long period of time, and we have one lineup. We’ve been known to be a team that’s not changing the roster.

CW: What are the changes that led to this performance you guys had at ESL Cologne and carrying that through to ELEAGUE?

FK: well, i think most of the changes were in-game leader role. I started calling strats since we won StarLadder. And from that moment we just didn’t change big stuff, only correcting our mistakes, and things are getting better and better.

CW: So when you look at the bracket stage next week, are there any little things you’re looking to improve upon as we head into this last stage of the tournament?

FK: Well it’s always difficult since there’s so many tournaments you don’t have much time to practice. But of course we can go through stuff that went wrong. But most of all I think the biggest change was a different approach to the game and here, like the major everyone was 100 percent focused to play our “A” game. And here we were kind of shaky because we were not that focused. We didn’t play to full potential.

CW:  Well and that’s the thing that comes with so many tournaments. This is a conversation that’s come up ever since the SK-Luminosity ruling recently here, and just all over the place. Just this tournament fatigue. How do you guys try to stay sharp when you’ve got event after event that you have be ready for? Do you think that’s something that CSGO as a community needs to look into as the esport continues to grow?

FK: Yeah it’s a weird moment for us. Last year, we had 22 events we’ve attended and that’s like almost two per month. Sometimes it was like one-month break and then four events in a row, every weekend. So it’s really hard to be 100 percent focused on all of it. So that’s like I said. We were not feeling that bad when we lost like nine or 10 tournaments then come back stronger in the major. After that we’re gonna have at least two weeks break so I think that’s fine. You get used to it and that’s the style of life you get used to. So it’s pretty fine. We all enjoy competing and traveling, so it’s all good.

CW: Like you said, there’s a lot of veterans on the team, you guys are used to this now, and it seems like you have adjusted well. One last thing before we wrap up. Obviously you’re incredibly competitive right now, where do you see you guys fitting into this scene moving forward, both in this tournament and in the scene as a whole.

FK: I mean, are you asking about the ELEAGUE here?

CW: I’m talking about Virtus Pro as a team, like what can fans expect from you guys as you move forward, both in this tournament and beyond?

FK: Well, Taz has been saying he’s gonna play until he’s 40. I’m not sure about that, but so far that’s the plan.

Cover hoto by Helena Kristiansson/ESL, eslgaming.com

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