Steven R. August 21, 2019
One of the top contenders to win The International 2019 has already been eliminated.
Virtus.pro was swept by Royal Never Give Up in round two of the lower bracket. The Russian squad entered the tournament as a strong candidate to take first place, but wound up on a plane home just two days into the main event.
The series itself saw all of the negative perceptions regarding Virtus.pro come to life. While the team is a force at majors and other small tournaments with a confident style that sees them overwhelm opponents with confidence and aggression, the Russians were unusually timid against RNG.
In game one they got off to an early lead, keeping pace with the Chinese squad in gold despite the fact they had an Alchemist, while also jumping ahead in experience. Despite having some serious advantages, they didn’t seem especially keen on pressing them as they were confident in their superior late game lineup. This proved to be their undoing as Royal Never Give Up rallied past them to steal game one in 29 minutes.
Game two was competitive through the laning phase as skirmishes broke in both directions, but saw RNG come out hot in the mid=game. While VP was reluctant to overplay its hand in game one, RNG had no such worries. Du "Monet" Peng’s Faceless Void was an overwhelming force and the team had a massive amount of follow-up to his Chronospheres. Coupled with Gao "Setsu" Zhenxiong’s strong pushing power on Leshrac, the team was able to keep Virtus.pro bottled up en route to a 2-0 series sweep.
The loss sends Virtus.pro home tied for ninth place, a surprisingly low placement for one of the season’s best teams.
Virtus.pro's surprise TI9 elimination
Virtus.pro exploded out of the gate at the start of the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season, making it to the grand finals of the first three majors and winning one of them. They barely slowed down as things progressed, taking third at the Epicenter Major in June.
That said, the team has a reputation for looking excellent in the winter and spring, then fizzling in the summer. That may not be entirely accurate, but they certainly played down to those expectations at TI9.
The team looked off-balance right from the start with a shaky performance in the group stage. They managed to pull it together enough to secure an upper bracket spot, but were almost effortlessly handled in their first main event series by PSG.LGD.
Royal Never Give Up advances on to face Team Liquid in round three of the lower bracket, but Viirtus.pro’s future is completely uncertain. The team was visibly shaken after the game and it is unclear what might become of them next season.