Virtus.pro captain Alexey “Solo” Berezin gave an insightful interview to prodota.ru at ESL One Hamburg 2019. He talked about what went wrong at TI9 for his team, when did the problems start for VP and how he wants to approach the new season working with young and inexperienced players.
“I definitely want to devote myself to Dota this year. I want to test myself and see if I can once again build what we built in 2016. It will take time, but Dota comes first in my priorities,” said the one who for the past four years has been the heart and soul of Virtus.pro. During the post TI9 shuffle, when Virtus.pro let go their prodigy carry and their coach, the latter said that he feels like Solo “betrayed himself” when he passed the leaderships and drafting duties to Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev. Asked now in Hamburg if that’s true, if he feels the same way as his former coach, Solo disagreed with Arsenij “ArsZeeqq” Usov. “ArsZeeqq said how he saw things from his own perspective. Perhaps, what he meant was that after TI8 we had a choice: we play either with or without Razmes […]. We had two ways and it seems to me that we made the right choice back then. Of course, looking at the results one can say that we took the wrong decision. But who knows, maybe without Ramzes we would have lost the entire DPC season and the team would have gone wild. The way I see it, we did everything to save the team, and Ramzes himself did everything to save the team as well. Nobody betrayed anyone, I did not betray myself,” Solo concluded.
VP’s captain talked about their struggles at TI9 and talked about why the team didn’t function “as a whole” despite spending a full month in a bootcamp prior to the event. “We practiced a lot, we played a lot, ArsZeeqq and Ramzes were responsible for the drafts, the overall mood was good and we had like 4-5 drafting options, openers, templates that we could use as a starting point,” he explained. However, their strategies didn’t work, and the problems started early in the group stage matches, “but this time it was different,” Solo recalls and explains how in the past if someone would make a call in game everyone would immediately react, and this is how VP got to be known for their incredible aggression and coordination.
“When someone said “go kill”, the others jumped instantly. At this TI we were completely desynchronized in actions. When someone said “let’s go!” the others were like “why”, “well…” and this is how 3 seconds have already gone, your inaction is bad, nothing good happens for you. According to the results, this was our weakest The International.”
Moving forward and looking to the long road to TI10, Solo explained that he is ready to put in the extra work and build a team instead of rushing things and chasing results right from the get-go. “If we would have wanted to show our best game, we would have recruited players with competitive experience, players who can be given a task and execute it. We started to put the team together on the 20th of September. We had less than two weeks to practice for the Major and Minor qualifiers and we played poorly at first, but we clinched the ticket to the Minor.”
Virtus.pro withdrew from the DOTA Summit Minor and besides some visa issues, Solo explained to prodota.ru how important it is for him and for the whole team that the new players develop their skills and expand their hero pool.
“They are ready to show a good game, but they and the team are limited in playstyle and hero pool. We took the guys to see how the young players would feel in a professional environment, how big the gap is, how much they are ready to do something new, and how it can even work. So, now we look closely, we help them with what we can, and we think whether this will work or not. We have a goal – to build a team for the future.”
Speaking about Vitalie “Save-” Melnic, Solo said:
“He is a very promising young man, very skilled and good with his fingers. There were times when Reso and No[o]one felt like they never seen someone like him before. […] The big question is: will he be able to reorganize his pub mentality where you want to show your best cards on a narrow hero pool, farm some items and deliver the same plays to raise your MMR? This kind of game approach doesn’t work in the professional scene. Here you need to be able to adapt and build your items according to what you face again in the game. Sometimes you need to rush Aether Lens, sometimes you need to go with a double Bracer build to able to go in front and steal their spells. You need to play on one hero and in the next game another one. If he succeeds, then he has the potential to become the best position 4 in Dota 2 history – his potential is that great. A lot depends on him; a lot depends on us to reveal his strengths. Let’s see if it works out.”
Earlier today, the organization has actually announced that they officially signed Vitalie “Save-” Melnic, but no updates were given on Egor “epileptick1d” Grigorenko, the 17-year-old carry, who showed last weekend at ESL One Hamburg what he’s capable of on Phantom Lancer.
“Egor is a rather mature guy for his age, we have no problems because of the age difference. He is very good on heroes with illusions: PL, Naga, Terrorblade. Egor is also limited in the hero pool, and it is also difficult for him to break the patterns and leave his comfort zone, but he is also very promising. The problem for both of them and our team is that they are currently raw in terms of experience. Some other young people got a strong team after they had some kind of foundation built with other squads. Ana played in China, played in the Australian League with professionals. Moreover, even in OG, he did not start very well as a mid lane player: Ramses started his career in Ukraine at SFZ with ArtStyle, then he went to Russia, and he played for Empire and Team Spirit before we recruited him. These guys [Save and epileptick1d] don’t have a foundation and it’s not easy for us. Right now, we are looking at how all of this can be built, and whether we can do it. This is our main task and motivation for the near future,” Solo explained. You can find the full interview in Russian here.