The longest-standing core in CS:GO will be a thing of the past after the FACEIT Major, as Virtus.pro announced last weekend that Paweł "byali" Bieliński will leave the team after the conclusion of the event.
His departure has, naturally, impacted the Polish team's preparation for the Major, and it also raises questions about the squad's future after the tournament ends.
Virtus.pro recently added Michał "snatchie" Rudzki after Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski left to play for mousesports, but it didn't take long before the news of byali's departure broke. Now the team will look to add yet another new player after the Major.
HLTV.org talked to Virtus.pro's in-game leader NEO the day before their first match in the New Challengers Stage of the Major, where the Polish veteran opened up about the team's current hardships:
I'm not going to beat around the bush, I have to ask about the byali situation and how that all happened - we knew about snatchie coming in, but then you went out in last place at ZOTAC and it became apparent that byali had already decided to leave before snatchie was signed. Can you comment on that situation and explain what has been happening in the team for the past couple of months?
It's really hard to explain because there are as many perspectives as there are players. But byali wanted some changes even before Snax told us, so he said he wanted to leave, then he said he would quit if we don't make any changes, so for a while, we've been in this situation that we know something is going to happen sooner or later.
All of a sudden, Snax told us he's going to leave the team, that he got an offer, and that's why byali decided to stay until the Major and keep playing with us. So we knew there were going to be changes. It's not that easy because lots of players have contracts nowadays, so we can't really test anyone or just take a stand-in, so we just tried to keep up with new tournaments, waiting for the Major, and coming as strong as we could because that's not easy when you know you're going to change the team and you don't have enough practice. But yeah, there's been lots of fuss about everything, you know.
This is obviously a difficult situation for you, so how has that affected the team's morale?
It's really hard to say as everyone is just trying to give their best. We're all professionals and we're just trying to focus on the game, not think about outside factors. We're just trying to do our best and that's what we came here for. The goal is to advance and secure the spot for Katowice, at least. We'll see how it goes from now.
Still, it must have affected your expectations for this...
Yeah, of course. Since we knew we were going to make the change, we didn't do a bootcamp because that's a waste of time, maybe, there were still tournaments like Hong Kong two weeks ago so we couldn't practice as much as we should have, probably. We were just trying to get the most out of what we've had.
So how have you looked back at the loss to MVP at ZOTAC in trying to prepare for this?
Unfortunately, as we were finally able to sign snatchie and so on, maybe if we could have, we would have skipped ZOTAC. But we couldn't have, that decision was already made a couple of months ago, even.
We came to ZOTAC straight after the player break, we had like two days of practice with snatchie, so it's not really a matter of what we did wrong, we just didn't play the game because of the player break at some point. After we came back, it was just lots of hours put into the game to come back and feel confident after the break again.
Do you feel in better shape now?
We feel much better than at ZOTAC, for sure (laughs). Because it was the first tournament with snatchie, we got to know him more thanks to the trip and we've been able to discuss all the stuff and learn from each other a little bit, so we definitely feel much better than a week ago.
Tell me about snatchie and how he has fit into the team, meshed with the rest of the squad?
Well, he's a dedicated AWPer, so that's the change. The biggest change is probably for pasha as he was the AWPer, now he has stepped down from using the sniper that much. But that's still an option during the game, so it's even better because we've got two really good AWPers now.
He's really active in the game, he gives a lot of ideas during the game, it's really nice to have such a player. He's really open and during this last week he's been learning from our style and we've been adapting to him a bit, as well. I think he's a really talented guy.