The past fewer months person seen Virtus.Pro connected the rise. Prior to the break, the squad started to triumph smaller events similar Flashpoint Season 2 and DreamHack Open December 2020. VP’s banal has continued to emergence successful the caller year. They started disconnected 2021 by winning the CS_Summit 7 and got 2nd astatine IEM Katowice with bo3 wins implicit some Astralis and Liquid.
All eyes are present focused connected the prima duo of Dzhami “Jame” Ali and Mareks “YEKINDAR” Galinskis, and rightfully so. Jame is the person and prima subordinate of VP. VP’s playstyle revolves astir utilizing his AWP to get favorable accordant trades. YEKINDAR is the newest summation to the lineup, but helium adds the constituent of firepower, space, and velocity to alteration Jame to play astatine specified a precocious level.
Together the 2 of them specify the playstyle of VP’s existent lineup. While IEM Katowice showcased VP’s strengths, the finals against Gambit showcased imaginable weaknesses arsenic well. Thus it was the cleanable tourney to excavation into VP’s styles, strengths, and imaginable going forward.
StarLadder Berlin Major and IEM Katowice 2021, AVANGAR and VP, Then and Now
The champion constituent of notation we tin usage to grasp this iteration of VP is to look backmost astatine the AVANGAR line-up that got 2nd astatine the StarLadder Berlin Major successful 2019. AVANGAR’s line-up for that lawsuit was: Jame, Timur “buster” Tulepov, Alexey “qikert” Golubev, Sanjar “Sanji” Kuliev, and Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev.
At the event, AVANGAR shocked the satellite with a second-place finish. In retrospect, it’s just to telephone it a fluke tally (as that lineup ne'er had a akin effect again). The Major itself was scheduled to beryllium the archetypal tourney aft the break, truthful galore of the different teams had ringing rust. The Swiss bo1 format accrued volatility. Counterintuitively, the information that AVANGAR had to play and conflict done the Challengers signifier meant that they were warmed up and acceptable by the clip the Legends signifier started. Finally, AVANGAR got the easier broadside of the bracket arsenic NRG, Na`VI, Astralis, and Liquid were each successful the little half.
None of this is to instrumentality immoderate recognition distant from AVANGAR. After all, each squad was playing nether akin conditions, and AVANGAR capitalised connected their infinitesimal of accidental portion ENCE, Renegades, and Vitality failed to prehend the moment. When we support each of this successful mind, we tin recognize wherefore AVANGAR failed to scope the aforesaid heights successful consequent tournaments. That 2nd spot effect astatine the Major wasn’t heralding the accomplishment of a caller CIS world-beater, but it was a imaginable glimpse of what could be.
The imaginable manifested successful 2 ways. First was idiosyncratic skill. Jame, buster, and qikert impressed everyone with their idiosyncratic skill, and it looked similar 1 oregon 2 of them could go a imaginable superstar subordinate successful the future. The 2nd was their playstyle. AVANGAR’s playstyle was highly polarised astir protecting Jame’s AWP and enabling him to beryllium their superstar player. In bid to marque that happen, the different players had to marque abstraction connected the representation (qikert and buster) oregon sacrifice themselves successful enactment (Sanji and AdreN).
Everyone was precocious connected the imaginable of the idiosyncratic players, but little truthful connected AVANGAR’s playstyle. However, the halfway of the squad ne'er abandoned that playstyle. Instead, they honed it, and erstwhile YEKINDAR joined the team, helium gave them the abstraction and firepower to instrumentality the benignant to the adjacent level.
Outside of the Berlin Major and IEM Katowice results, the happening this squad was astir good known for was the Jame meme “Jame Time”. “Jame Time” is astir however passively Jame plays arsenic an AWPer. This has resulted successful acold less deaths for Jame, but besides disapproval arsenic his playstyle leans excessively acold towards baiting.
Like each memes, it is meant successful bully humour, but determination is inactive a kernel of information successful it. Passive and bait-y often person antagonistic connotations, but if done correctly tin bring connected immense benefits for the team. The 2 biggest examples of this were Christoper “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund and Marcelo “Coldzera” David. Both NiP and LG/SK were consenting to sacrifice the different 4 players connected the altar if it meant putting either GeT_RiGhT oregon Coldzera successful the close presumption arsenic they could warrant the win. Both GeT_RiGhT and Coldzera were truthful large that they took their respective teams to #1 successful the world.
Perhaps a amended mode to recognize the passive superstar is to accidental that they person an accent connected abstraction and trading. When enactment into that context, everything astir VP slides into place. Their archetypal rule arsenic a squad emphasises bully accordant trading.
Art of the Trade
Trading is the sanction of the crippled for VP. This rule characterises VP connected some sides of the map. VP has 4 wide types of strategies they usage crossed the representation pool. The archetypal is Jame successful a 2-2-1 oregon 3-1-1 formation. In this default, VP person the 3 oregon two-man battalion beryllium the focal constituent for the archetypal infinitesimal oregon truthful of the round. Jame tries to find a prime and his backup subordinate supports him by creating space, utilizing utility, oregon being determination to commercialized if the force surprises VP. If thing shows up, past VP person 3 imaginable backup plans depending connected however overmuch abstraction they have. They tin either bash a afloat acceptable play, a adust deed which punishes teams that effort to cheat connected inferior for the extremity of the round, oregon person YEKINDAR and 1 of buster oregon qikert bash a lurk introduction to get accusation oregon marque a play. (It’s worthy noting that I divided the adust deed and the imaginable lurk introduction arsenic 2 antithetic options, but determination are aggregate times wherever 1 people leads to the different oregon vice-versa).
The astir communal examples of this benignant of default is connected Train, Mirage, and Overpass. The 2nd strategy plays disconnected the first. VP power up the gait and spell for faster rushes connected the representation arsenic they either instrumentality a cardinal portion of representation power oregon bash a acceptable play. This enables the archetypal strategy arsenic teams that cheat connected inferior aboriginal volition beryllium punished. The 3rd strategy is to bash a accelerated adust deed to wholly drawback the different squad disconnected guard. Finally, VP volition enactment either YEKINDAR oregon buster arsenic the assertive introduction playmaker to make abstraction connected the representation and play from there.
Regardless of what strategy VP uses, they ever marque definite that Jame is enactment successful a bully presumption to commercialized erstwhile the circular closes retired and that helium is ever successful a harmless position. Beyond putting their prima subordinate into comfy positions, this besides has 2 broadside effects. It sometimes throws disconnected the timing of the defence arsenic teams are accustomed to the much fluid role-less Counter-Strike, which is simply a spot little strict successful positioning. In opposition to that, VP often make a enactment earlier heading in. As a result, teams unused to playing VP often person timings and reactions that are conscionable a small spot off.
The 2nd effect is that due to the fact that Jame is enactment successful a bully trading position, helium is usually successful presumption to besides prevention the AWP if things spell south. Jame has less deaths than the emblematic player, which besides means that his squad has much wide wealth arsenic a effect and, therefore, amended weapons connected average.
While the T-side is reasonably impressive, I deliberation the CT-side is what seems to confuse astir of VP’s opponents. Jame plays antithetic spots, setups, and crossfires from the emblematic AWPer. This creates a earthy informational vantage for VP, and adjacent if the opposing squad scouts VP, countering VP won’t travel people arsenic nary different squad plays retired the CT-side rather similar they do.
The champion mode to picture Jame is to explicate his polar opposite, Andrei “arT” Piovezan. Metaphorically speaking, arT plays 1 notch faster, and 1 notch much assertive than radical expect, adjacent erstwhile they’re expecting him to play. Jame is the other of that arsenic helium plays 1 notch much passive and 1 gait slower than radical expect him to. This change-up successful presumption and abstraction throws disconnected however T-sides request to instrumentality power of the representation and tin often effect successful wasted inferior that works good against different AWPers, but is mostly ineffective against the positions that Jame plays.
Two examples that outpouring to caput is Mirage and Overpass. On Mirage, Sanji volition instrumentality B halls early. Once he’s established a guardant camp, Jame volition rotate successful and clasp the space portion Sanji takes a guardant presumption person to catwalk. From this position, Jame tin get info down B-halls, get a changeable disconnected if idiosyncratic rushes there, person Sanji make abstraction connected the debased crushed and past commercialized him if the different squad pushes in.
On Overpass, Jame volition often play successful underpass with the AWP, and helium volition person 2 players supporting him from either side. YEKINDAR volition play the A-side and buster successful water. This presumption gives Jame a clump of options: helium tin get uncontested picks, flanks, trades, oregon flight and adjust.
While I’ve focused mostly connected Jame’s passive play here, he’s besides shown a willingness to beryllium the assertive AWPer. Even successful these cases, though, Jame volition ever marque definite that determination is idiosyncratic down him who tin commercialized him. On the CT-side of defence, Jame volition spell for a mid-round peek down treble doors with his AWP and person qikert adjacent by to commercialized him should helium die. On Mirage, helium volition lurk introduction into T-con by dropping down from the ledge, but he’ll marque definite that helium has 1 oregon 2 players adjacent that tin commercialized him should the manoeuvre fail.
Overall, Jame has honed his passive benignant and has his squad honed successful connected 1 of the astir cardinal and important aspects of tactical CS, the creation of the trade.
The Addition of YEKINDAR
The last happening to look astatine is what YEKINDAR has brought to the table.YEKINDAR is simply a large chartless for me. He’s played brilliantly astatine IEM Katowice, but helium besides plays a punishing role. He is the assertive playmaker, entry-fragger, and space-creator for the team. YEKINDAR isn’t conscionable an entry-fragger, but a hard entry-fragger. Someone who takes connected the relation akin to Dan “apEX” Madesclaire successful the older days. As that’s the case, it’s precise improbable that helium volition proceed playing astatine this pace. Even so, YEKINDAR’s interaction is crucial. Both qikert and buster are truly beardown players, but neither of them person the instinct for precise accelerated explosive play the mode YEKINDAR does. His gait and velocity springiness Jame adjacent much clip and abstraction to make the setups helium wants oregon the accusation helium needs to marque the close calls successful the game.
Overall, his summation was the portion that VP needed to marque the VP benignant of CS enactment astatine specified a precocious level.
Gambit’s Victory and Warning Signs for VP?
While IEM Katowice was a large feat for VP, clip marches connected relentlessly. Soon enough, VP volition person to reply the question of whether oregon not they tin bash this again. Moving forwards, what tin we expect from this team? For me, the 2 cardinal figures are Jame and YEKINDAR. I deliberation they are the 2 engines that marque this benignant of play work, truthful opposing teams volition effort to unopen them down. There are 3 ways to bash this: isolate Jame, inhibit YEKINDAR, oregon work the wide operation of the squad and marque the close calls.
While I’ve praised Jame’s play, passive players skirt the borderline betwixt winning the circular and having zero impact. If a squad knows however helium plays, they tin make countermeasures to isolate him and debar his spots. In the aforesaid vein, if a squad knows YEKINDAR’s tendencies and routes, they tin neutralise his impact. Finally, VP’s benignant is idiosyncratic, truthful this gives them an informational vantage against astir teams. Teams that play against VP often tin neutralise this effect.
In the finals of IEM Katowice, Gambit utilised each 3 aspects. If we look astatine the idiosyncratic numbers, YEKINDAR was inactive impressive, but not arsenic god-like arsenic helium was passim the tournament. Jame was acold beneath what helium was outputting the remainder of the tournament, and wide I’d accidental Gambit had a acold amended thought of however VP likes to play and had amended reactions to it compared to galore different teams that played against VP successful the playoffs.
The archetypal happening to see is the representation veto arsenic it gives a batch of strategical accusation connected however Gambit was reasoning connected this map. Gambit are usually consenting to interval inferno oregon play it arsenic the decider. Against VP, they chose to prohibition it. What’s more, VP picked Vertigo and Train. Both maps are ones that inhibit VP’s champion playing style. Vertigo itself is simply a nary brainer for Gambit arsenic it’s their champion map, but the 2nd prime of Train gives a consciousness that they understood VP’s benignant and however to minimise it.
On the crushed level, Gambit isolated Jame and inhibited YEKINDAR. Gambit neutralised Jame’s interaction arsenic they avoided galore of the setups that VP similar to use. The astir evident illustration of this was successful the last representation connected Overpass. Earlier I described the CT-side crossfire wherever Jame plays underpass and has 2 players successful presumption to assistance him trade, get info, oregon escape.
VP utilized this setup successful the 19th round. Gambit avoided this trap altogether arsenic they had Timofey “interz” Yakushin get immoderate info towards mid earlier lurking towards long. He didn’t trigger the trap, but his lurk got the accusation Gambit wanted. Gambit sussed retired the default and utilized a interaction B play to punish VP. Due to the particularities of the setup, determination was nary crossfire to clasp the position, and Gambit was already successful the tract and connected apical of the subordinate astatine barrels earlier VP could bash anything.
As for YEKINDAR, Gambit work his movements connected Overpass arsenic they understood his inclination to lurk heavy into the A-site astir the 0:30 people to marque a play oregon get the accusation that VP wants earlier they perpetrate to a site. Gambit neutralised YEKINDAR’s play successful some the 7th and 8th rounds. In addition, it seemed that Gambit wide had a amended thought of however VP liked to play arsenic they had a flash and commercialized setup acceptable for VP’s interaction play successful the 9th round.
In the end, Gambit won a convincing 3-1 bid against VP. There are a fewer imaginable ways to work this. The astir generous presumption for VP is that Gambit is simply a squad that knows however they play, and VP played beneath par arsenic they had much unit connected them. Once VP commencement playing different tournaments, they could inactive beryllium a beardown squad if their idiosyncratic signifier remains strong. A much captious presumption is that Gambit bushed VP arsenic determination was nary informational advantage. Armed with a bully work of the force and bully signifier connected the day, they ran VP over. Should different teams get the aforesaid magnitude of penetration that Gambit has, VP could beryllium successful a unsmooth spot.
Moving Forward, the arT and FURIA comparison
When I see VP’s aboriginal prospects, I can’t assistance but callback the emergence of arT and FURIA. Both had bully young talent, and some had a unsocial approach. When FURIA archetypal broke out, radical were captious of whether oregon not they could win with their highly assertive style. After the archetypal first breakout successful 2019, they slumped. Instead of giving up connected their style, they doubled down, made immoderate changes to their roster, and person continued to consistently grow and diversify their playbook portion keeping the aforesaid playstyle.
For me, Jame and VP volition person to look to them arsenic an example. VP aren’t rather arsenic utmost arsenic FURIA, but they surely play a antithetic benignant we typically spot from European teams. For VP to succeed, I deliberation they volition person to travel a akin method wherever they proceed to grow their playbook, portion keeping the playstyle that exemplifies their strengths. If they bash that, they could go 1 of the much unsafe teams successful Europe, and soon enough, Jame Time volition spell from being a meme to being a deadly superior affair.
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