After the success of Team Empire at the beginning of last year, another Russian lineup led by the ex-Empire player of Artyom "Shockwave" Simakov also began to impress as they fought their way up from the national leagues up to the Pro League. Now, just prior to the Russian Major League Season 4 Finals and the new, top-flight FACEIT European League, the forZe roster has been signed by well-known Russian organisation Virtus.pro (VP).
Alongside the change in organisations, it has also been confirmed that the former coach of Anton "Korben" Tulbu was dropped. Signed in his stead is Kerim "Toda" Musaev, who used to be an AVANGAR player and had made it to the grand final of the Allied Esports Minor Europe Qualifier against LeStream Esport (now Rogue). Also signed in addition is Andrey "Andreezy" Bavian, who will be the team analyst.
To know more about the signing, SiegeGG spoke to Alan "Rask" Ali:
Congratulations on the signing with Virtus.pro! How does it feel to join such an accomplished organisation?
Thanks. It feels amazing!
How did the move come about?
The move happened very easily. We did not have any problems with it.
What are your goals with Virtus.pro and how do you feel they will help you achieve them?
First of all, we want to win the Russian Major League but the main goal, as always, is the Six Invitational and nothing else. We already booked our dates for a bootcamp before the European League starts and we'll be there soon. The organisation is completely ready to help us in whatever we need, so the future looks bright!
This journey began just as they became the first team in two months to defeat the reigning Pro League champions of Empire in the Russian Major League Season 2 LAN Finals, before eventually finishing as the tournament runners-up, positioning them as promising outsiders for the Raleigh Major qualifiers.
Here, the team joined their fellow Russian lineup at the Major by defeating Team Vitality twice and Chaos once, nine days before qualifying for the Challenger League. A month later in Raleigh, they continued their breakout performance with victories over both the top-seeded LATAM roster of FaZe Clan and next season's Pro League runners-up of DarkZero Esports to make it out of the group stages in first place alongside Spacestation Gaming, G2 Esports, and Team Empire.
Next up, on the main stage, they took down Giants Gaming (now known as Rogue) before finally falling against G2 Esports to finish the event in joint-third with fellow Challenger League squad Team Secret. This performance made them clear favourites during Season 10 of the Challenger League, during which they succeeded in making it to the Pro League with a second-place finish behind BDS Esport and subsequent relegation victory over PENTA.
However, since making it to the Pro League, they failed to qualify for the OGA PIT Minor and fell to the then-Challenger League hopefuls of IziDream in the 2020 Six Invitational qualifiers in two disappointing performances.
During the first half of Season 11 of the Pro League, they also looked weak as they sat in last place with just seven points at the halfway mark. They managed to improve this to jump up to fifth by the end of the season, however, with a defeat to G2 on the final play day the only difference between a fifth and second-place finish.
Despite that, as it prepares for next week's Russian Major League Season 4 Finals and the EU Open Clash charity tournament, this forZe lineup has been acquired by the greatly successful Russian organisation of Virtus.pro.
Virtus.pro is a Russian organisation best known for its previous Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) and DOTA 2 rosters. In CS: GO, it won both the ESL One: Katowice and Cologne Majors in 2014 with a fully-Polish roster that later also finished Cologne 2015 and 2016 in joint-third, and in 2017 secured second and joint-third at the ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta and the PGL Major Kraków, respectively.
Since then, with the exit of much of this Polish roster in the first half of 2018, the organisation has been unable to achieve such high-level results in CS:GO, and currently has a predominantly Kazakh lineup.
In DOTA 2, meanwhile, the organisation currently holds a record five Major wins (tied with Team Secret), all of which came between October 2017 and November 2018, before the core of this roster left in late 2019 after a joint ninth-place finish at The International 2019. Virtus.pro now holds a mixed Russian, Ukrainian, and Kyrgyz lineup, which went out first in the DreamLeague Leipzig Major earlier this year.
Outside of these two games, VP also currently holds teams in Apex Legends and Fortnite, with their top result across these two games being a joint-14th place finish in the Apex Legends Preseason Invitational last September with a Swedish-majority lineup.
Catch this new Virtus.pro lineup in action next week during the online Russian Major League Season 4 Finals, with CrowCrowd up as its first opponent:
Artyom "Shockwave" Simakov
Artyom "wTg" Morozov
Pavel "p4sh4" Kosenko
Pavel "Amision" Chebatkov
Alan "Rask" Ali
Kerim "Toda" Musaev (coach)
Andrey "Andreezy" Bavian (analyst)