Virtus.pro has a longstanding tradition of looking great in the winter and spring and then fizzling out as the summer brings The International. This year isn’t looking much different.
After two days of The International 2019 group stage play, Dota 2’s top CIS team is not really living up to that billing. The team has a modest 3-5 record record and went 0-4 in day two.
The first series is somewhat justifiable. Playing opposite possible tournament favorite Vici Gaming, Virtus.pro was on the wrong end of a massive comeback in game one as Zhou “Yang” Haiyang and Zhang “Paparazi” Chengjun hit key item timings to swing team fights in Vici’s favor. Game two nearly saw Virtus.pro return the favor with a rally of their own, but instead they ended up breaking down in the late game against Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang’s Medusa.
Virtus.pro looked to rebound against regional rival Natus Vincere in their second series of the day, but fared no better. Natus Vincere has been something of a kryptonite for Virtus.pro this season and this series at TI9 was no different.
Following a close laning phase in game one, VP carry Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev and mid Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko fell apart in the mid-game and ultimately went a combined 4-14 when the game ended. The cores bounced back in game two but had no answer to Na’Vi carry Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek, who went wild as Bloodseeker en route to a lopsided win.
The rough day two was a big letdown after a generally solid day one which saw the team go a combined 3-1 in series against Ninjas in Pyjamas and Royal Never Give Up. That has VP on the bottom half of the bracket with no easy matchups in sight.
VP is currently tied with Fnatic for sixth place in Group B, with eighth and ninth being NiP and RNG. VP has four series left to play with two of them coming against established elites in Evil Geniuses and OG, while the others come against Fnatic and an overachieving Infamous.
The Russians have an uphill battle ahead of them if they want to start the main event in the upper bracket.