Virtus.pro benches TaZ, MICHU to replace

Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas of Virtus.pro. Provided by Patrick Strack/ESL

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team Virtus.pro has benched Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas, the organization announced on Tuesday. TaZ will be replaced by Michał "MICHU" Müller, who is loan from Team Kinguin, for the StarSeries Season 4 Finals in Kiev, Ukraine on Feb. 17-25 and the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in Katowice, Poland on Feb. 27 to March 4. MICHU has previously competed for Virtus.pro on a stand-in basis in the absence of several players in 2015.

TaZ will remain contracted with the organization until the end of 2019 unless he decides to move to another team or quit professional gaming, Virtus.pro management confirmed to ESPN.

"For the entire year, we've been staying in one spot while the other tier-one teams have been striding forward," Virtus.pro head coach Jakub "kuben" Gurczyński said in a press release. "We need to step forward to come back. Most likely, not instantly to the very top again, but at least to be among the world's top. We decided that the team needs an upgrade -- in a form of a new player."

The move ends TaZ's run with the core of the Polish roster, which he started with in-game leader Filip "NEO" Kubski and former player kuben. He first began competing with NEO, kuben and the original Golden Five in 2006. Since, the team has joined various organizations -- none as long as Virtus.pro, however -- and won the first ever Counter-Strike: Global Offensive major in Katowice in 2014.

Throughout 2017, the roster had several high-place finishes, but ultimately ended their run in a slump. They took second at the ELeague Atlanta Major in Jan. 2017; first at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas in April; third-fourth at the PGL Krakow Major in July; and second at Epicenter 2017 in October. The roster change comes after it took 15-16th place at the ELeague Boston Major in January, the lowest the team has ever placed at a Counter-Strike major.