It’s a Major for the underdogs as Gambit takes down Immortals, 3:1 in the Grand Finals.
Aside from the thundering passion of the Polish crowd, this year’s PGL Major in Krakow will be remembered as a tournament for the underdogs – big name teams and favorites such as G2, Natus Vincere, and FaZe Clan dropped out before the playoffs even began, and the few expected contenders that were left soon fell in to the two eventual Grand Finalists – both of which were underdogs, which very few people probably expected to be at the Grand Finals of one of Counterstrike’s most prestigious tournaments.
Gambit Esport’s road to the final was heralded by their extremely strong performance coming out of the group stage, as they were the first team out of the Swiss-format groups, as they took their three wins consecutively and in a dominant fashion – they proved they weren’t just a Cobblestone-specialist team, or that they were only capable of the ‘slow-execute’ terrorist side, able to switch things up and increase tempo seemingly on-the-fly.
They took down Fnatic 16:14 on Train and 16:12 on Inferno in the quarterfinal with Mihail “Dosia” Stolyarov leading the KDA charts, and moved on to face previous Major-winners, Astralis, in the semis. Astralis came off of a 2:0 win versus the favored Brazilians of SK Gaming, with 16:12 on Cache and 16:6 on Overpass – and while most people wrote Gambit off by this point, they certainly showed up in their match versus Astralis.
Rustem “mou” Telepov showed he could play the AWP masterfully on Overpass, scoring multiple opening picks to help secure their team the win – ending the map with a 16:10 round score. They failed at Inferno 8:16, but once they got on the third map of Train (notoriously one of Astralis’ best maps) Gambit showed that they came to play. Daniil “Zeus” Teslenko was having the game of his life, top-fragging whilst also shot-calling his team to victory, even taking a near-crucial round as a break to keep his teammates’ heads in the game – after which they looked nigh unstoppable, and took the game 16:12.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket brewed another underdog story for the ages – Immortals, a promising Brazilian team always overshadowed by their countrymen in SK Gaming, were working their way through to the Grand Final. First to fall to them were the Germans in BIG, who they lost the first map of Cobblestone to 17:19, but took the series back with a 16:7 win on Inferno and 16:14 win on Train.
Immortals then took on hometown favorites, Virtus.Pro, who were hot off a 2:0 win over North, 16:9 on Cobblestone, 16:10 on Nuke. The Polish team struggled heavily on Inferno, where Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles was on fire, leading the KD chart with 25-8 and an impressive 110.5 ADR. Virtus.Pro’s woes continued into the second map of Mirage, where it was Ricardo “boltz” Prass’ turn to shine, and the Brazilians took the map 16:11 to book their ticket to the grand finals.
And what a Grand Final it was, with Gambit looking lost on their once signature map of Cobblestone, where Immortals was able to rack up round after round with a strong terrorist side, and a very strong showing for Henrique “HEN1” Teles who earned top frags with a 22-4 KD. On their map pick of Train however, Gambit seemed to have come alive, with mou once again playing a phenomenal AWP, while Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev trailed not far behind – they took the map 16:11 and forced a Game 3. The third map of Inferno saw rising star Abay “H0bbit” Khasenov pull off multiple solo clutches to bring his team back from the brink of a lost round, and even took an ace for himself during an anti-eco, consequentially topping the KD charts with a 26:14. Gambit closed off the map with a round score of 16:10, and became the first CIS team to win a Major.
Aside from being a phenomenal underdog victory, Gambit’s success here is the culmination of a long year of hard work and a few very interesting storylines: Zeus, who had been kicked off the Natus Vincere roster he went to 2 Major finals with to make way for superstar Alexandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, had declared that he refused to give up until he won a Major – and now he has. AdreN, while a notable veteran of the CIS CS:GO scene, had yet to find himself this much success, as most people had written him off as a pro past his prime – and while his teammates produced more highlight-reel performances, his consistent fragging and impressive ability to perform under pressure earned him a Major MVP title. Dosia was in a similar boat, having played CounterStrike for so long and never having found such high success – he is now a Major winner. The two relatively younger players in mou and H0bbit have also come into their own here at Krakow, with mou showing himself to be a top-caliber AWPer capable of going toe-to-toe with the scenes legends, and H0bbit establishing his playmaking capabilities and reliability in clutches.
Three of Gambit’s players (AdreN, H0bbit and mou) are from Kazakhstan, a country still lacking in esports infrastructure and support, and H0bbit especially, being so new to the scene, makes Gambit’s win even more impressive – certainly an inspiring story for both aspiring pros, and old pros who still want to prove they’ve got what it takes.
KaLeRei is currently enrolled as an engineering major. In her free time she likes going on quests to save the world with a party of interesting characters, building sprawling empires, or just going on adventures. Sometimes she also supports her friends when they feel like destroying ancients. She has a fascination for old pros trying to prove they’ve still got what it takes, and cats.
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