The Virtus.pro backlash and how fans become stans
Many Polish fans felt betrayed that the Russian organisation who famously fielded CIS teams in 1.6 and in the early days of GO have chosen to sign the AVANGAR roster.
These individuals were not happy to see their beloved VP return to the HLTV top 30 and reclaim a Major spot.
Unfollows flooded in.
A war cry rallied out from one particularly upset Twitter user.
'No. Go die for now. Bye.'
It's almost like they haven't realised the nostalgic lineup that played under VP for the majority of GO has been gradually cut from the roster since 2018, leaving only Snax behind.
Or that a CIS Virtus.pro lineup toppled the NiP giants, ending their 87-0 map win streak.
Fans that follow organisations tend to do so as the team holds, or once held, their favourite players. Many choose to support multiple teams once those players join other organisations.
How they pick a favourite player varies. Sometimes they happen to start watching during an impressive clutch for said player. Others watch interviews and appreciate the person behind the alias. Stories about that player in their career history might inspire admiration.
These are not always the best players in the game and as VP's Polish crumble showed, replacing bit by bit is not always enough to save the core of a team.
Letting iconic players go is often left until far later than if a rookie or less popular player doesn't live up to expectation.
As Counter-Strike celebrated its 20th birthday, many players who had been involved for numerous years have taken a step back from competing. Major winners. Iconic names. Beloved individuals.
The iconic Ukranian leader Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko is the best example of this.
Despite leading Gambit Esports to victory at the PGL Major Kraków 2017, Zeus was an infamously weak player when it comes to in-game mechanics. This led to many attributing his sub-par performances with Na'Vi losses.
While Zeus' loudest supporters were sad to see him go (well, one supporter), fans who have been following him or Na'Vi in recent times have not all jumped to another organisation in his absence.
Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund stepping down from NiP was a historic moment. The Swedish legend has rightfully earned a place in the history books and the hearts of fans new and old.
After two years of mediocre results and a trophy cabinet gathering dust in Stockholm, it was clear he needed to be replaced.
The reality that many players and fans alike might not want to consider is that all good things must come to an end. Your favourite team could disband tomorrow. A player could choose to retire. A dip in form might turn into a downward spiral that cannot be recovered.
It is more important to remember the good times rather than lament the changes once they come. No player can play forever. No team is permanent. Organisations can only push so much nostalgia.
While Dignitas seems to be looking to reunite the aforementioned GTR and the rest of the iconic NiP lineup under its banner, the draw is those who ‘miss’ that team rather than the prospect of a repeat performance from early in Global Offensive history.
‘B Site league’, a new circuit separate from ESL Pro League, FACEIT’s ECS and BLAST Premier, seems to be on the horizon and numerous organisations such as OG, Team Secret, 100 Thieves and GODSENT have been entering, or reentering, the space. 2020 is set to be competitive in a very different way to previous years.
With Mathieu "ZywOo” Herbaut, Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin, Cvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov, Robin "ropz” Kool and Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken all under 21 years old and playing in top 10 teams, the next generation of players is not only ready but already claiming titles and trophies.
While they might not yet be Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg, Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski or Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer, these new stories that are being told will become part of the history of the game in the future just like the careers of the many players that came before them.
The new Virtus.pro have not yet reached the popularity or success of the Polish lineup that has come to define the organisation for CS:GO fans, but there is nothing to say that they wouldn’t be able to do so further down the line.
Fans should embrace the talents of today as the legends will not be around forever and the landscape can change in the blink of an eye.
Image via Dreamhack