The former frontrunners of CIS move on to Grand Finals after defeating HellRaisers 2-1.
The upper bracket match-up of the EEU Regional Finals saw Virtus.Pro run circles around HellRaisers, defeating them 2-1. With their victory, they await the winner of today's bout between fallen foes HR and TI10 champions Team Spirit.
Coming in as the 3rd-place seed in the region, not many would have expected VP to be in this position. They had a relatively shaky start to the season, and seemed to have lost their previous title as the young kings of the region. So how did they end up as the first finalists? According to offlaner Dmitri "DM" Dorokhin, it seems that he has had a change of philosophy.
Virtus.Pro Outpace The HellRaisers
After defeating Team Spirit 2-1 just yesterday, and taking the Dota 2 Champions League trophy over Gaimin Gladiators, HellRaisers looked in prime form. Virtus.Pro had faced off against HR in the Regional League, where they were beaten 1-2 in convincing fashion. However, VP would burst straight out of the gates in Game 1 to completely annihilate their foes in a beatdown that lasted ONLY 19 minutes and 40 seconds.
Not to be written off, HellRaisers would fire right back - literally. On the back of Maxim "re1bl" Afanasyev's gatling gun Lina, they would tear through the ranks of VP in Game 2. In the deciding Game 3, it would be a last-pick Puck for Danil "gpk-" Skutin that was nigh untouchable that led VP to yet another 20 minute GG call.
From the games, one thing was clear - VP were feeling themselves. DM would echo this sentiment as well, in the subsequent winner's interview.
A New Philosophy to Pave The Way for DM
Before Team Spirit had won TI10, it was no secret the Virtus.Pro were the top dogs of the CIS region. Despite flawless regional league runs though, VP could never seem to repeat that dominance when it mattered most on LANs. Obviously, no one would feel too good about losing, but the frustration in the team atmosphere was palpable through the brief glimpses of their player-cams.
While the new iteration of VP had struggled in the earlier stages of the Winter Tour, they've seemed to really hit their stride in this Regional Finals. They had come into this match after taking down Puckchamp 2-0 just yesterday.
When asked about his philosophy coming into events like the Regional Finals, DM revealed how his approach has changed after playing TI10.
After his considerable amount of time playing Dota, he's realised the importance about feeling good about what you play.
"It's like Collapse playing Mars - do you guys think he feels sad when playing Mars? No he's not, because it's his favourite hero and he's feeling amazing."
He goes on to explain how if you set yourself up to have the "best emotions" from playing the game, you won't tilt or lose your concentration during the match.
Indeed, this is apparent from their series, with both their wins being on DM's monstrous Beastmaster. Even in Game 2 that they lost, the team had their fair share of fun moments too. The highlight was without a doubt the good-humoured all-chat after gpk-'s Death Prophet survived an impossible situation.
For now, DM's determined to stick to the heroes he loves. "When CM 3 comes into meta I'll play 50 games of that, but for now I'll just play my 1053rd game on Beastmaster or my 535th game on Brood and chill."
An "Interesting" team-bonding activity for Virtus.Pro
It goes without saying that roster changes can severely benefit or hamper the dynamic of a team. The new additions to VP seem to have fit right in though. According to DM, the team's go-to bonding activity is "watching the worst films in the world and expecting them to be good". This usually sees some of the players falling asleep, while the others eventually resort to scrolling through social media on their phones.
"Our favorite team-bonding activity is to choose the worst film in the world and we are expecting it to be good. and then we are sitting: three people on the phone and two sleeping.
And then the guy who choose the 'bad' film, we tell him you are never choosing it again. And yet, he chooses it again. "
Their most recent film? The Bronson (2008) starring Tom Hardy, which DM describes as "not for everyone". It would be gpk who tapped out first of that film, falling asleep in 20 minutes.
While it doesn't sound like the most compelling thing to do, it's apparent that the team, both in-game and out, are just having a good time.
The state of CIS Dota
With regards to his opinion on the current state of the CIS scene, DM had nothing but good things to say about his counterparts.
He thinks that the current game-level of Dota 2 is low, but that's to be expected because TI just ended.
"In simple Dota, CIS players are the best - and Dota is simple overall right now. Even the Top 1 team in Europe (Gaimin Gladiators) has a safelane from Russia. Our players are good, and they're really wanted all over the world right now."
Players from CIS migrating to other regions is not anything new of course, with RAMZES666 probably being the most recent progenitor of this trend.
The final hurdle for Virtus.Pro will happen tomorrow, as they gear up to face either Team Spirit or HellRaisers again. Only time will tell if VP can reclaim their lost title as the kings of CIS.