One of the first esports orgs to venture in Artifact has decided to reduce its presence in the game. Virtus.pro announced Wednesday, that it will be parting ways with Maria “Harleen” Kobzar and Artem “DrHippi” Kravets. Ole “Naiman” Batyrbekov will remain the only Artifact player for the “bears”.
“It is no secret that Artifact’s development dynamics have not fulfilled our expectations as of last year,” VP general manager Roman Dvoryankin wrote. “Virtus.pro is not striking the discipline out of its long term plans and hopes for the improvement of the situation, thus there is no reason to expect the complete disbandment of the line-up.”
Virtus.pro officially committed to Artifact in June 2018 by signing Harleen. Rumors, later confirmed, followed that Naiman and DrHippi will join in to expand the line-up. The org’s interest in the game was made clear even earlier, however, with Roman Dvoryankin confirming in December 2017 that VP will definitely have an Artifact roster in 2018.
VP cutting down its Artifact involvement comes as a result of the game’s decrepit state. On Monday, Feb. 25, Artifact had its lowest peak yet of 634 concurrent players and its downfall is not slowing down. Today, it also recorded it’s lowest dip too — mere 266 players online.
The esports scene of the game in mostly in the form of small community tournaments, with bigger productions still very rare. Twitch interest has also dwindled and only a couple of hundred watch Artifact on a daily basis.
It remains to be seen whether other major esports orgs will also move away from Artifact to some extent. Currently, Team Liquid and compLexity have the largest involvement in the game. Despite having only a single player in George “Hyped” Maganzini, Liquid have the most titles in the game out of everyone else and also run community website DrawTwo. compLexity, on the other hand, run a full line-up of players, content creators and talent. Other major esports orgs like Evil Geniuses also have a stake in Artifact, albeit minimal.