Being the oldest standing five-man team in CS:GO – with a trophy case to match – Virtus.pro’s role within the narrative of the game is paramount. Due to their unique nature and prolific place within CS:GO rhetoric, there are many different perspectives, anecdotes, and metaphors that serve to paint the picture of Virtus.pro – an explored avenue is to consider the Polish roster to the annals of Egyptian lore.
In Egyptian mythology, one of the most widely known and depicted figures is that of Anubis. Whilst his canine head and human body make the God instantly recognisable, it is one of his roles within Egyptian canon that makes him so important. Anubis had to measure the weight of a soul against a feather, which was representative of law, harmony, balance, and truth. If the soul was lighter than the feather, it would be considered worthy and transcend into a heavenly existence; however if it was heavier than the feather, it would be consumed by a beast known as Ammit – ‘Devourer of the Dead’.
Anubis serves as a powerful metaphor for a figure representative of the penultimate test, a gatekeeper to any challenger, striving to reach a higher place. The God picks and chooses those that are worthy enough to transcend the plane of normality and become a part of an elevated state, whilst simultaneously destroying those that aren’t deemed fit.
Within the realm of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the highest of peaks a team can reach through a single instance is by winning a Major. It represents the apex of competition between the most prestigious teams and a pedigreed legacy of success upon victory. The only possible way to top a first place finish at a Major is having two first place finishes at a Major, an exceptionally difficult task to achieve with the same roster intact.
The God picks and chooses those that are worthy enough to transcend the plane of normality and become a part of an elevated state, whilst simultaneously destroying those that aren’t deemed fit.
The only teams to ever achieve double Major success with identical rosters, and coincidentally both in back-to-back fashion, are the Fnatic 2014-15 roster (ESL One Katowice 2015 & ESL One: Cologne 2015) and the Luminosity/SK 2015-16 roster (MLG Columbus 2016 and ESL One: Cologne 2016).
Give any sane analyst the side of a mountain upon which to carve the Mount Rushmore of CS:GO players, these two rosters would be the first faces up there. They represent arguably the two most storied and powerful set of five players to ever grace the game. Not even the now mythological NiP and VeryGames rosters of 2013-14 can flaunt two major wins, let alone in consecutive fashion. Yet to achieve such a fabled and well-regarded existence, they too had to have their hearts weighed against a feather.
The allegorical embodiment of Anubis does not forget the realm of Counter-Strike – the Gatekeeper that played both of these legendary rosters in order for them to claim their Major wins, on all four occasions was none other than the oldest roster in CS:GO history – Virtus.pro.
In the four series that both Fnatic and the Brazilians played to win their Major titles, they had to face Virtus.pro in the playoffs every single time. No road to victory is ever a smooth surface, and whilst other teams were easily run over by these two dominant rosters, Virtus.pro were the mediating force that would obstruct the path in every case but at Katowice 2015, consistently the hardest game either side had to face all tournament.
Although teams might’ve taken the Brazilians close, Virtus.pro have been the only team to ever take a map off of the fnx and TACO iteration of the Luminosity/SK roster at a Major. When looking back at their two Major wins, the only real challenge that Fallen and his crew have ever had to face in a full Bo3 series has been Virtus.pro. No other team has pushed the Brazilians as close to breaking point than the Poles.
Although not to the same degree, Virtus.pro have stood tall to block Fnatic’s journey to consecutive Major wins as well, with their full series at the semi-finals of Cologne 2015 widely regarded as the best three consecutive maps of the entire tournament. Whilst it seems a random coincidence that Virtus.pro have fallen into this archetype of the gatekeeper to ultimate CS:GO glory, in both an outer-game narrative and inner-game stylistic sense, it could not be more fitting.
Virtus.pro are one of the most experienced team across all of CS:GO. With the longest standing roster, and the players making up this roster consisting of weathered and grizzled veterans, no team has seen more change within the scene, and both the pain and ecstasy of competition, than the Polish outfit. If there was to be a wizened, battle-hardened guardian to decide whether a team is deemed worthy to pass, it would be perfectly represented by these players.
The team’s sheer body of work over a prolonged period of time lends itself to the creation of an unspoken synergy and understanding of each other in-game. Although the actual age of all the players in the team vary from TaZ at 30 and byali at 22, the mantle of the leader exists in an intangible ebb and flow.
This goes for most roles within the team, snax, NEO and pasha all share AWPing responsibilities on a seemingly tournament to tournament basis, with everyone being just as capable with a rifle. You cannot beat VP on just one front. They win as a team and lose as a team, the individual success of a player almost always comes with a solid base of fragging from the other members. Although you can assign general labels like ‘entry fragger’ to byali and ‘lurker’ to snax, they are by no means hard definitions and can be bent by the will of the team itself.
“Form is temporary, class is permanent” – a mantra worth repeating ahead of squaring up against the Polish Anubis.
You can look at the team’s losses within the vacuum of a single series and record a Virtus.pro defeat to a superior side, but when you delve into previous historical accounts and address what happened throughout the tournament’s entirity, Virtus.pro have consistently fulfilled a higher archetypal figure.
They are far from the old group of players resistant to the winds of change calling them onto bigger and better things, they are the ultimate gatekeepers. They do not always possess the power to halt a tyrannically dominant team, but will stand in their path time and time again to weigh their heart against the feather of sheer Polish will.