Virtus.Pro is a unique Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team. It contains the longest-lasting lineup in the game’s history, with the oldest veterans who can still play at the highest level. VP is the only team to reach a Major finals three years apart. At ESL Katowice in 2014, the players lifted the trophy; at the ELEAGUE Major, they finished second in one of the best finals of CS:GO’s history. Either performance would have etched them into the game’s lore. The fact that they did both three years apart, with numerous top placings and victories in between, is what endears this team to the hoi polloi. Virtus.Pro are truly the final bosses of CS:GO. Although the players themselves had only a brief stint as the best team in the world last year, all who wish to take the crown must inevitably fight and defeat them to get that title.
Think upon the greatest teams and lineups throughout history: Ninjas in Pyjamas, Fnatic, EnVyUs, Team SoloMid, Natus Vincere, Luminosity/SK. All of them differ in country, history, play style and the way they came to dominate the game. Only one thread connects them all: All of them, at some point in their career, did battle with Virtus.Pro to earn their mark. Virtus.Pro fought NiP for the IEM Katowice Major title and won. Fnatic had to pull a legendary timeout and comeback to defeat VP at ESL One Cologne 2015, securing its second Major victory. At ESL Dubai, Virtus.Pro went full plow and defeated EnVyUs, Fnatic and TSM to win its title. TSM fired back with a victory at PGL. The followup iteration of Fnatic with Dennis “dennis” Edman fought Virtus.Pro at Faceit Stage3 Finals and defeated them on the way to the title. In both Majors that LG/SK won, its closest matches came at the hands of Virtus.Pro — two close 2-1 series at MLG Columbus and ESL One Cologne 2016.
Even in the early months of 2016, the period of Virtus.Pro’s “slump,” the team attended five tournaments and lost four of them to the eventual tournament winners: Fnatic at IEM Katowice, Na’Vi at Counter Pit, Luminosity at MLG Columbus, NiP at DreamHack Malmo, and Tempo Storm (who would eventually become Immortals) at CEVO 9. Later that year, the story repeated itself at ESL New York (Na`Vi) and EPICENTER (Dignitas). In all of 2016, VP played in only four tournaments where it didn’t either win or lose to the eventual champion.
Virtus.Pro has a class to it that is difficult to grasp. You never know what kind of form they will be in at any given time, in any given event. You never know when they will change roles or AWPs, or what maps they’ll bring into and out of their map pool. But the combination of these players is incredible. Janusz “Snax“ Pogorzelski is the superstar of the team, but besides him any of the other four can show up without rhyme or reason. Paweł “byali“ Bieliński just had a great tournament. Jarosław “pashaBiceps“ Jarząbkowski was slumping prior to the ELEAGUE Major but put on a career performance at the Major itself. Filip “NEO“ Kubski and Wiktor “TaZ“ Wojtas are the supports, but both have shown they can completely take over the game at the flip of a switch.
All of this is backed by mutual trust, an implicit agreement between all of the players to never give up. This applies both inside and outside the game. No matter the struggles they have or the forms in weakness, they believe in the class of the players. No matter how difficult things get, they will find a way back. It doesn’t matter how hard or how long it takes. This fortitude comes out in nearly all of their games. They will never beat themselves; the other team must take the win out of their cold, dead hands. North learned this the hard way in the quarterfinals of the ELEAGUE Major. Astralis pushed itself to the absolute limit to steal the trophy away from Virtus.Pro. This grit, this competitive spirit is seen throughout their entire careers as a five-man lineup. They may never have a era of domination like the other greats in the game, but they are always at the top. If anyone wishes to walk the road into the hallowed halls of the greatest, to seize victory and proclaim themselves the best in the world in CS:GO, then they must defeat Virtus.Pro.
The legendary team are the final bosses. The last guardians of the gate. Get passed them and you can enter the realm of the greats. There is no set road to greatness. You can get there with skill or teamwork or tactics or a combination of any of the three. But at the end of that road you must face Virtus.Pro to prove that you can enter those hallowed grounds. In order to be the best, you must fight the one team that has played all of the greatest lineups in CS:GO history. The one team that embodies the history and legacy of CS:GO in a single lineup. The team that has shown a relentless competitive drive and competitive thirst that is nearly unmatched by anyone.
All roads lead to Virtus.Pro. The question is if you’re great enough to get past them.
Cover photo courtesy or Turner Sports/ELEAGUE, illustration by Slingshot