Virtus Pro has a reputation for choking at The International, and they just couldn’t escape the curse this year as they were eliminated by an on-fire Royal Never Give Up after losing 2-0 in the Lower Bracket R2.
Both teams faced off earlier in the Group Stage in a series that ended in a 1-1 draw, but this time, there would be no stalemate, with the loser departing the tournament.
The first game saw the CIS squad go for a very team fight orientated line up with Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov’s Tidehunter and Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan’s Enigma key to their victory conditions.
On the other hand, RNG chose a more balanced line-up aimed at taking down objectives, relying on Gao “Setsu” Zhenxiong’s Leshrac and
Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng’s Shadow Shaman to quickly burn down towers and barracks, while Du “Monet” Peng’s Alchemist would farm up an unassailable lead.
Things got off to a great start for RNG, with an easy first blood on Roman “Ramzes666” Kushnarev’s Lifestealer, who was a bit too aggressive in trying to snatch the starting Bounty runes.
RNG went for early pressure, aiming to keep the Enigma and Tidehunter from getting farmed enough to make an impact but once both heroes got their ultimate, VP started rotating in to team fight against RNG. However, the strategy didn’t pay off, as RNG decided to go in for a gank on the Tidehunter, only to find themselves biting off more than they could chew.
VP continued to win team fights, catching out RNG when they were trying to push towers. However, once the cooldowns were used, RNG was able to take back fights and gain a gold lead over VP.
While VP made valiant plays to stay in the game, RNG had already built up a strong lead, and was able to hold up against the double wombo combos of the Ravage Black Hole to outfight VP. With VP continually trying to initiate on RNG and failing to kill off Monet’s Alchemist, the first game was over in a jiffy in just 30 minutes.
With their tournament life on the line, VP busted out their comfort heroes, going with Warlock for Alexei “Solo” Berezin, Centaur for 9pasha, Tiny for Rodger, a mid Gyrocopter for Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko to deny it from RNG, and rounding it off with a Wraith King pick for Ramzes666.
RNG, on the other hand, opted for a strong team fight lineup with a Monet Faceless Void, LaNm Elder Titan and Su “Flyby” Lei on Omniknight, whose ultimate Guardian Angel was the perfect counter to Gyrocopter’s Flak Cannon’s physical damage. Rounding up RNG’s draft was Setsu on Leshrac and Tue “ah fu” Soon Chuan on Shadow Demon.
VP started off strong, securing earlier kills on RNG cores, going 3-0 up at the five-minute mark. However, with elimination on the line, instead of the early aggression the CIS squad is usually known for, they opted to play it safe and farm.
When the laning phase ended, RNG decided to take a team fight at mid, but VP managed to come out on top by trading two kills for one. With VP having the stronger mid-game lineup and hitting their timings, VP started pushing out the lanes, taking out towers for map control.
A big fight broke out in the Radiant jungle, with Faceless Void blowing a Chronosphere ultimate on a BKB-ed Gyrocopter, and the subsequent skirmish took too long, with VP being unable to kill off Flyby’s Omniknight fast. RNG heroes had enough time to respawn and TP back to the fountain to take the victory.
From then on, RNG had the game in hand, and made it completely impossible for VP to come back. Monet’s Faceless Void had well-placed Chronospheres, always catching out No[o]ne’s Gyrocopter. After a few more team fights, it was all over and VP were forced to tap out.
With that, Virtus Pro bows out of the tournament at the 9th-12th place with US$675,000 in prize money.