After a sixth-place finish in Stage 1 of the 2021 European and a failure to attend the Six Invitational 2021, Virtus.pro has opted to swap two of its members ahead of Stage 2.
Current analyst Andrey "Andreezy" Bavian will move to a playing role, replacing Artyom "wTg" Morozov, who will now be coaching the team instead.
Andreezy, having just turned 18 years-old a month ago, had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Six Invitational 2021 alongside Alan "Rask" Ali, thus disqualifying the team from the event.
The move comes after a self-admitted "rough start" to the season for the Russian-majority squad, despite having added Six Major Raleigh and Pro League Season 9 winner Eugene "karzehka" Petrishin to the roster.
Team manager Kirill "YaGo" Zolotov explained the change on the Virtus.pro website:
Artem is an incredibly experienced player who has a deep understanding of team’s chemistry. It will help him to come up with a fresh approach to the training sessions.
Andrey, on the other hand, is an excellent shooter who has been working with our team as an analyst for quite some time. As he turned 18, he became eligible for playing in the pro-scene. This roster change can be of great benefit for everyone and we will be looking closely at the results of this endeavor.
Throughout Stage 1, Virtus.pro had won three games in regular time and one game in overtime. On the flip side, it had lost three other games in overtime and a further two outright in regular time.
While it had 14 points to its name, tied with fourth and fifth-placed Rogue and G2 Esports (and just two points behind third-placed Cowana Gaming), the tiebreakers had meant that the team was only sixth.
As far as individual performances went, too, the Virtus.pro team was not shabby at all. Its five players had a similar spread to almost every other team in the league, and wTg had been average in both the league (26th-rated out of 50 players) and on his team (third-rated out of the five players).
However, it is clear that Virtus.pro is determined to push for greater heights and is likely disappointed at its three overtime losses that could have catapulted the team at least as high as third.
Prior to the team's diqualification, karzheka had spoken to SiegeGG about Virtus.pro's difficulty at closing out many rounds with man-advantages, which may be a key target for the team with this change.
Virtus.pro has also been struggling in the Russian Major League (RML) and is a distant third there -- six points behind second-placed 43rti and nine points behind league leaders Team Empire.
Last year, the team had been lethal, finishing third overall in the EUL and in both Majors and had not been troubled in the RML by any other team aside from Team Empire.
The addition of Andreezy, an exciting prospect in the underaged scene prior to his 18th birthday in April, could thus inject the Russians with the fresh perspective they need.