Russian juggernauts Virtus Pro kicked off their TI9 campaign with a dominating victory over Ninjas in Pyjamas in their first match of the Group Stage.
Game one was a slow, methodical grind that almost seemed uncharacteristic of the usually aggressive VP, as they opted to outfarm their opponents with a tanky core duo of Gyrocopter for Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev and Necrophos for Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko.
Meanwhile, NiP went with a tri-core of Juggernaut for Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard, Tiny for Adrian “Fata” Trinks, and Lone Druid for Neta “33” Shapira in a bid to outscale their opponents.
A slow early game that saw a lot of posturing and tower trades between the two teams quickly turned sour for NiP as VP outlasted them in clashes. Despite manoeuvring to get whatever opening they could, NiP simply could not stop a relentless VP from claiming the first game of the series.
Game two was more in line with how VP usually play with a lot of early kills, only this time it went against them. Martin “Saksa” Sazdov on a roaming Mirana was instrumental in shutting down VP’s lanes, especially Ramzes on Kunkka.
But No[o]ne on Sniper and Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan on Enigma picked up the slack, and led the Russian squad in winning crucial midgame fights for their team.
With both teams continuing to skirmish in search of a decisive advantage, Roshan expectedly became hotly contested and was where VP took over.
The Russian squad withstood a strong initiation from NiP in the pit with buybacks, then wiped their opponents to claim the Aegis for themselves. Despite the game remaining relatively even before that decisive fight, it was enough to force NiP to call GG and complete the sweep for VP.
Be sure to check out our coverage of The International 2019 Group Stage for more TI9 action.