There was another leak in the media space: streamer VooDooSh leaked information about Virtus.pro's Dota 2 coach while listing the "Streamdacha" participants. According to him, the slot was taken by Artsiom "Fng" Barshak, who hasn't officially ended his career as a cyber-sportsman. The "bears'" management hasn't officially confirmed their resources' information.
The team players have already spoken about the fact that the team lacked support from the coach at the last major. The Virtus.pro roster failed to pick their heroes effectively in key matches, lost to the Peruvians of beastcoast, and lost a direct invitation to The International 11. The "bears" will have to play regional qualifiers, but now their coach will be there to help them in their hour of need. Who could this "mystery" person be? If it's Fng, will he be able to step up the team's game? Read the answers to these questions in our feature.
What do we know about Fng?
The community knows Artsiom as a talented position five player and an experienced captain. His resume includes:
- Two appearances at The International in 2015 and 2021
- Victories in tier-2 tournaments
- Experience playing against the world's top teams
When the Belarusian joins the analysts at the official broadcasts, the viewers are less likely to walk away from the screen. Fng has proven himself to be a skilled strategist. His drafts become the key to success against strong competitors with proper preparation.
The Belarusian cyber athlete can continue his gaming career because his last team had chances to qualify for the majors even in the CIS. In CIS Rejects with RAMZES666, depressed kid, RodjER and MieRo Artsiom easily made it through Division II and had a real chance to play in the PGL Stockholm Major in the spring. In September, the squad could have qualified for TI11, but the guys decided they wouldn't make much progress together.
I don't want to open wounds, so to speak. As always, it's the inner workings and I don't feel like talking about them. I think everybody understands it very well, I've already given some hints. [About RAMZES666 being in Virtus.pro?] I did not say that RAMZES666 is in VP. I said he'll be called for sure. It's not a secret, when you have a strong position [a carry player] and they need that position, they should call him. [And what about RodjER and the rest?] Well, they have their moments. Again, it's all about the inner workings and I don't like to talk about it. Let's just say we haven't agreed on what the team should look like.
Artsiom didn't find a team for the third DPC season, decided to stay in the shadows, and spent less time playing the game. He occasionally comments on players' performances and hero balance in mass media but rarely appears on tournament broadcasts or tier-2 events. Dotabuff stats show that in 30 days, a full-support player has played only 36 matches, which is extremely low for a professional player. All maps were played in five game days, meaning no consistent training was going on. As a result, after this "rest," the win rate is 38 percent for the month.
When will I play pro Dota? Not this year, probably. It's unlikely that anyone will take me on a team and that I'd want to go myself. I don't play Dota 2. That also affects whether or not they'll take me in the team.
Competitors at regional qualifiers for The International were not interested in him, and the buzz around his name slowly died down. That is until his name was mentioned in one context with "Virtus.pro coach".
Fng as coach - how will he help the "bears"?
The problem of Virtus.pro in the decisive series against beastcoast is the mistakes in the draft. On the second map, Roman decided to draw Lone Druid, gpk didn't get his heroes, and the overall synergy in picks was lacking. The "bears" could not implement their "greedy" style against the Peruvians, which cost them a direct invitation to TI11.
Artsiom may weight this roster on the coach's position. He hasn't won five majors but will easily get along with RAMZES666. Young supports will learn from the player who has significantly impacted his role over six years in various lineups. Fng has already worked with greedy midlaners in his career and knows how to realize their potential. As a coach, it will be easier for Artsiom to see the mistakes of the young team and use his experience to build a working game pattern.
Do they need Fng in the squad as a coach-psychologist? If we believe the team's interviews, the atmosphere within the team is just fine. Roman easily handles the role of the leader, there are no problems within the team, and even an unfortunate dropout from the "lucky twelve" shouldn't affect the Virtus.pro game. Artsiom already dealt with difficult individuals in Gambit Esports and Virtus.pro in 2015, so the potential coach won't have any difficulties in communicating with players.
However, it's not fun to speculate about a coaching candidate only from a perfect perspective. There was one story with gpk at Gambit Esports among his many pluses. In 2020, Danil received an offer from the "bears" with Solo and No[o]ne, which the talented young midlaner could not refuse. There were difficulties in the transition process, and gpk at first sat on the bench and was forced to return to his old team after negotiations failed. Fng was then the captain of Gambit Esports. How did Danil's jumping affect his relationship with Artsiom? The question remains unanswered to this day.
Nevertheless, the rumors about the Belarusian cyber-sport athlete becoming the new Virtus.pro coach haven't appeared out of thin air. His candidacy fits seamlessly into the current roster, and he can structure the team's drafts and pass on the necessary experience to the young teammates. However, Artsiom's mentorship hasn't been officially confirmed. Can the VooDooSh streamer be wrong? If so, which candidates for the coaching position might Virtus.pro consider?
Andrey ALWAYSWANNAFLY Bondarenko has been trying his hand as a coach since this year. In February, he coached an Eastern European Division II team, but his main activity remains streaming on Twitch. How can he influence Virtus.pro as a coach?
All previous squads of the Ukrainian cyber-sportsman have lived off the temporary boldness. His tandem with Iceberg and any three cyber athletes has easily gotten results in the early stages, but in the long run, the performances have worsened. ALWAYSWANNAFLY has had its share of conflicts with Nofear at Winstrike, and there was a cruel kick of GeneRaL from Natus Vincere. Despite all that, Andrey achieved good results, and he could share his experience with the current roster of the "bears".
All FlyToMoon rosters under ALWAYSWANNAFLY played aggressively, creating maximum space for the carries to farm. In reality, gpk reminds me of a young Iceberg with aggressive laning and awesome highlights, but Virtus.pro's game is the opposite of the early aggression. All three cores play greedily here, the fourth is considered a pure initiator, and Xakoda increasingly performs on heroes with saving and healing abilities. The "bears'" drafts are blooming in the late stage. Therefore, the streamer's cooperation with the team is unlikely to turn into trophies because of the differences in understanding of the game.
What can Andrey bring to the team? There has always been a friendly and fun atmosphere in his lineups. The team would, in theory, learn to play more aggressively and rely less on the lategame stages. But the likelihood of failure is high, so it's very hard to believe that the Ukrainian is taking the coaching slot. Who else could help the "bears"?
Arsenii was a coach at Virtus.pro from September 2018 to September 2019. By the time he joined the organization, the "bears'" golden roster after the overwhelming spring with three majors and first place in the DPC season had finished in fifth-sixth place at TI8. They was disappointed with the previous mentor, ArtStyle.
However, the results didn't improve with the new coach: after winning the Kuala Lumpur major, Virtus.pro didn't have any high-profile victories. At TI9, the roster failed miserably, finishing in 9th-12th place and disbanded.
The community remembers Arsenii as a confident man who can take on the role of "lightning rod" in dealing with the media and a coach with an analytical approach and a detailed approach to the drafts. His presence on the roster has been linked to the captaincy of RAMZES666. ArsZeeqq saw the team's problem in its emphasis on aggression. He sought to change the "bears'" style of play, taught them how to play lategame drafts, and created tough situations for his charges in tournaments as tasks to work out. This resulted in a lack of a game pattern at TI9 and an embarrassing defeat. For all the problems within the roster, Arsenii's job was deemed unsatisfactory, and he left Virtus.pro along with the majority of that roster.
At the same time, the relationship between the two in-game leaders, RAMZES666 and Solo, seriously affected the results. Only Roman has the draft experience, and none of the teammates can offer him equal help. Arsenii already has synergy with the legendary Virtus.pro carry, so no disagreements are unlikely. In ArsZeeqq's favor, the "bears" are now playing in the same way he set for the "golden" lineup in 2019.
The main problem with the cooperation between the two sides will be the potential candidate's lack of great results. Arsenii has done well with young rosters made up of rookies, but with the "bears'" powerful roster, as mentioned earlier, he has only won one major (and that one on ArtStyle's base). An organization with championship ambitions needs geniuses at every position. Therefore, remembering the failure of Arsenii in 2019, the management of Virtus.pro has every reason to doubt the positive dynamics of events.
Who else could coach at Virtus.pro?
At various times, the team's roster already has some of the region's best coaches. It is unlikely that ArtStyle will be invited back to the organization: his second coming to the team wasn't a success. Now the "bears" need a mentor with an analytical mind, while Ivan proved to be a good psychologist and mentor.
Because of the same reason, they won't call boo1k either. Anatolii has been invited to Virtus.pro twice. He had the chance to work with the Solo's roster and the young Save and Nightfall. For the second time, the roster managed to take 5-6th place in TI10 after many failures in LAN tournaments, but the organization deemed the result unsuccessful and dismissed the coach. He is rightfully considered a strong analyst and can build the team's drafts, but there is little hope for another comeback because of past failures.
Mag could be a solid option for Virtus.pro, but Andrey is happy at BetBoom and is preparing the squad with Daxak to fight for the slot in TI11. There are no more obvious contenders for the coaching slot, or it could be someone who hasn't previously appeared in front of experts and analysts.
The position of a coach is becoming more and more relevant every year in the Dota 2 discipline. Coaches take care of drafts and match preparations; they help players see their mistakes and work on them. The "bears'" current roster consists of experienced players and young supports playing at this level for the first time. A good coach can take the team's game to the next level.
For now, Fng's joining Virtus.pro is just a rumor, but this alliance could benefit both sides. The community can only wait for the official announcements and hope the new coach will lead the Russian organization to TI and improve the results on the main event of the year together with the players.