Editorial: Virtus.Pro give a crash course in attracting top talent

electroNic's buyout proves VP's commitment to a world-class roster.

Many organizations come into Counter-Strike with a mission statement to "win it all." They want to win Katowice, Cologne, BLAST World Finals, but most of all, they want to win a Major. In Counter-Strike, it's the holy grail of achievements. Win a Major and your organization is emblazoned in CS lore forevermore.

As we move ever closer to 2025, more organizations enter the ecosystem with a spark in their eye to house the next team to win a Major. But, to have a Major-winning team, you need Major-caliber players. Every team to win a Major has had incredible players who will go down in Counter-Strike history as some of the best of the game.


Let's take TSM, for example. Back in 2022, TSM's VP of Esports, Dominic Kallas said that TSM had “set the goal internally that at the end of 2023 we will hopefully be a top-15, top-10 team, and then by 2024 to be a top-five team." Five months into 2024, the team has peaked at rank #82 in the world, according to HLTV's ranking.

TSM's team has fallen quite short of the internal benchmark the organization placed. Quite frankly, TSM do not have Major-caliber players. This is because Major-caliber players do not go to organizations like TSM.

High-quality, sought after players rarely go to organizations with such little recent history as TSM. They go to projects where they feel they can slot in and perform to the best of their capabilities, because they have a strong desire to play with another member of the team, or they have trust that the organization can build a strong lineup around their name. TSM had no roster to slot into, no top-tier player to cozy up to, or strong support staff (as evidenced by the disagreements between coach Rémy "XTQZZZ" Quoniam and the organization).


Let's look at one of the most recent examples of a true superstar choosing his next path: Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken, the only player to win two Intel Grand Slams. Near the end of his contract with FaZe, he was forced to look for options due to a lack of communication on the American organization's part. Of course, many offers were sent to Twistzz, as you would expect from a player of his caliber. The months passed, and he said "by the time there was an answer [from FaZe], I was already in pretty deep talks with Vitality and Liquid." So when push came to shove, Twistzz' top choices came down to just three organizations, FaZe, Vitality, and Liquid.

Twistzz could have remained on FaZe, obviously attractive due to the chemistry between the players, the same four that Twistzz had won his Major with. He could have went with Vitality, reigning Major winners, taking the roles of the departing Emil "Magisk" Reif, where he could slot in fairly well, along with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with three-time #1 player of the year Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut. The last offer, and the one he went with, was Liquid, an organization he knew and trusted to build a world-class team to surround himself with, featuring meta-defining IGL Casper "cadiaN" Møller and Twistzz' former teammate Keith "NAF" Markovic.

When superstars become free, they look towards a select few organizations to define the next chapter of their careers: FaZe, G2, Liquid, NAVI, or Vitality, with Cloud9 and Astralis cropping up for players who speak those teams' languages. For the most part, those have been the teams that stars would join in this modern, international landscape, think Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, Lotan "Spinx" Giladi, and David "frozen" Čerňanský.

So, how do you attract these top talent? How do you enter the upper echelon of Counter-Strike organizations and become a name on the tip of a superstar's tongue? You spend the money.

You spend the money

In a recent interview, Virtus.Pro's CEO Nikolai Petrossian spoke about the organization's ambition with signing Denis "electroNic" Sharipov. Similar to TSM's hope, the organization was unsatisfied with just being a middling team, "We are currently like top 10, sometimes in top 5, but the ambition is to be top 1, at least top 3." For that, you need a superstar, and superstars cost money. Alexey "OverDrive" Birukov, CIS insider, claims that just electroNic's transfer fee exceeded $1.5 million. That is a ludicrous amount for a player who has played below his peak for nearly a full year. However, signing electroNic is not just an investment in the roster, but an investment in the organization, as Petrossian puts it:

But the story doesn't end here today. Our ambition is to continue searching new opportunities on the market — not right now, it's obvious that this roster has huge potential, massive opportunities to get some results and win trophies, but for the future the sky is the limit for us in terms of ambitions on the transfer market. Any other star player, this is a signal for each of them that Virtus.pro is ready to push any boundaries to get that player who we feel may make our roster stronger. There are only a few on the market, I believe none of them are available today, but I hope that this move on the market will be a signal to them, and with electroNic in the roster we have much more chances to get new stars to Virtus.pro than without electroNic.
Yeah, it's a huge amount, and any guess would be more or less right. We didn't spend money on electroNic's transfer, we invested money — this is a very different approach. We invested in him and we do hope that this investment will give us back not only trophies but also will change the status of Virtus.pro as an organization

Over $1.5M, if true, is not so ludicrous then, is it? In fact, the higher the reported amount, the more Virtus.Pro's status as an organization is lifted. Virtus.Pro didn't spent $1.5M on electroNic just to acquire a world class player, they spent $1.5M on electroNic to prove that they're willing to spend $1.5M.

Now, when any superstar finds themselves looking for a new home, it's not just Cloud9, FaZe, G2, Liquid and Vitality to window shop, but Virtus.Pro should be on the short list as well. If Ilya "m0nesy" Osipov finds himself dissatisfied with G2's performances, it shouldn't just be Cloud9 who he rings up. Why not Virtus.Pro?

This approach of "spend the money" has already worked previously. Take a look at Vitality over the past few years. They spent the money to acquire three Major-winning Astralis members back in 2022 as part of a €50m investment into esports. It's that investment and commitment to an international roster which put them first in line to receive Lotan "Spinx" Giladi later on. Spending the money now breeds opportunities for future investments.

Every organization wishes they could find five young raw talents and nurture them into a world-class team, but that just is not possible anymore. The last team to do so was Gambit, who excelled in an online environment that didn't translate into big stage performances. To win the biggest events, you need the best players, and if you're not willing to buy them, you will not get any without world-class scouting and years of development.

With electroNic's buyout, Virtus.Pro did not just signal to the whole world that they now have a roster that can compete at the highest level, they announced that they will always have a competitive lineup, buying the pieces necessary to do so at any stage. Virtus.Pro are already known for being cutthroat when the results don't arrive. Now, big event wins will be the standard, not just for this roster, but every Virtus.Pro roster henceforth.

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#1(With 0 replies)
May 18, 2024 02:39PM
The last team to do that was MOUZ
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