Virtus.pro rose to the top of the Counter-Strike world on Saturday when it defeated Fnatic 2-0 (16-10, 16-8) in the finals of ELEAGUE Season 1. The Polish team, with the longest-tenured roster of any of the top organizations, has been one of the better teams in the world but had constantly come up short at the biggest events until this weekend, when it defeated mousesports 2-0 (16-7 16-10) in Friday’s semifinal to earn the right to play Fnatic for the championship and $390,000 in prize money.
The road to even get to the ELEAGUE playoffs wasn’t easy for VP, which finished second to EnVyUs in its group and earned a playoff berth through the Last Chance Qualifier. VP has not been back to Poland since June, staying in Atlanta for four weeks of ELEAGUE sandwiching a trip to ESL One Cologne at the beginning of the month.
After the championship match, the members of VP conducted a news conference with the assembled media. Here are some of the highlights (mainly coming from Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas, who often acted as the mouthpiece for the team):
TaZ, on the relief of finally winning a big-time tournament: We’ve been waiting for a big one, and I think that this one is really sweet because we didn’t win majors in the past, but they were not as big of a prize pool. Fnatic won three majors, and it was $300,000, right, for three majors? And here we won this big event and we got $390,000, so it’s just a sweet feeling about the money and prize pool, but the other thing, which we are really proud of, is we came back.
TaZ on VP’s growth: We went through all the bad things, bad moments, and we are here stronger than ever. It’s just an amazing feeling.
TaZ on validation of VP’s roster approach: I don’t know how much it validates (us). There are not many teams with this much experience and age in the scene, so we’ll see in the future. But I think this is something many teams should learn from. We are not taking the easy route. We are taking the mature route. We are picking the way the sport should look like. It’s not about having five guys playing for four months and swapping the team because one guy’s failing. The sport is about building a team and being a team. That’s it.
TaZ on difficult moments throughout the year: We’ve had some really hard moments, especially at the beginning of the year. We took the beginning of the year very lightly, the first two months because we always had bad starts to the year, but it continued. We just continued to struggle.
Jakub “kuben” Gurczyński on coming back from 9-2 down on Cobblestone: “We know that there is always a time that we break the streak, and we knew that would come at some time. We found a way how to defend ourselves, and six rounds on CT was pretty good. You could see that we had a really strong T side.
Kuben on finally going home: We left our homes in June. More than one month ago. We’re going home tomorrow, of course, and some of us will go for some vacation.
TaZ on “Virtus Plow” mode: Today, we shined. This is the team that we wanted to build. This is the team which we like, which everyone loves. When we play and are in this mode, I don’t know about the guys, but I just feel so confident. Even when we are losing rounds, even on Cobblestone, we feel so confident. OK, we are losing these rounds, but in a moment, (something) will happen, and we will just run through them. I think after we beat NiP in the quarterfinals, I think we just felt “OK, this was our event,” because it just felt extremely easy on our worst map. In the finals, Fnatic played us on our three best maps.
Filip “NEO” Kubski on Virtus Plow: The Plow is just the well-organized chaos.
TaZ on VP being the elder statesmen of professional Counter-Strike: I guess the question is how do the other teams feel? We should have retired a couple years ago and here we are beating the asses of the youngsters. So this was extremely good. It was also extremely important for esports that we are showing some kind of standard. If there is a kid that starts playing now and he is like 16, it’s not like he needs to stop playing games at (a certain) age and go to university at 18 or 19. He can continue. He can build a career. I think we will show everyone how long the career can be.
Cover photo: Vince Nairn