Gambit's rise to the top10
With Gambit's new lineup clinching two smaller titles, as well as two quarter-final finishes at big events in the last four months, we take a look at their journey to becoming a top10 team over the last year of the team's existence.
The creation of Gambit dates back to late 2015, when Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov joined up with Kazakhstani duo Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev and Rustem "mou" Telepov, as well as veteran Dmitry "hooch" Bogdanov and Finnish up-and-comer Jan "wayLander" Rahkonen, to create HS.GG. Soon afterward, they got signed by Gambit and ever since then they've always had upset potential, which they showed time and time again at the biggest stages.
Beginning their road to success at the CIS Minor ahead of MLG Columbus, Gambit clinched their spot at the offline qualifier and went on to secure a place at the first Major of 2016. They couldn't make playoffs with losses to Astralis and CLG, but AdreN and company had their hands in Envy' last-place finish at the event.
It wasn't until ESL One Cologne, after Ivan "spaze" Obrezhan came into the lineup for wayLander, when Gambit became Legends for the first time, but not before passing OpTic, Envy, and G2 at the preceding offline qualifier. At the Major itself, the CIS-based squad added another high-profile best-of-one scalp with a win over Astralis which earned them that all-important Legends status.
Despite showing potential, the Gambit side was unable to put forth the same level of play in series, notably getting thrashed by Virtus.pro at ELEAGUE Season 1, fnatic in the quarter-finals at ESL One Cologne, and later on by Envy at DreamHack ZOWIE Open Bucharest.
Zeus' leadership helped Gambit enter the top10
Perhaps it was the combination of those disappointments and a big opportunity presenting itself that helped AdreN's side decide to let hooch and spaze go to bring in better versions of those players; an ocean of experience in Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko and young talent in Abay "Hobbit" Khasenov, who made his name in Tengri. That change didn't pay off right away as Gambit finished 5th-8th at a small-scale ESWC following a tough loss to Space Soldiers, but they quickly progressed as time went on.
Their first triumph, albeit a small one, came at Predator Masters 3 where Gambit took down Kinguin twice in a row with ease. DreamHack ZOWIE Open Winter — not the highest of competitions, yet at least one level above Predator Masters — followed and the Kazakhstani-Russian-Ukrainian squad seemed to overcome their best-of-three issues, defeating a top10 team Cloud9, as well as GODSENT and Renegades in series on their way to their second consecutive title.
Fast-forward two months and loads of training, Gambit returned to Atlanta for the ELEAGUE Major and retained their Legends status after going 3-1 in the Swiss group stage, beating big names North and FaZe in the process. fnatic were in their way once again in the quarter-finals, but Dosia's roster couldn't take their revenge for the loss in Cologne.
Gambit's quarter-final dismay continued at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, as once they strolled through the groups with victories versus fnatic and Virtus.pro, they fell short to North on two narrow maps.
While the team hasn't been able to take the next step and take down one of the elite teams in playoffs just yet, they've continued to improve ever since the addition of Zeus and Hobbit, breaking into the top10 as of February 6th.
Alongside AdreN who continues to be the main star, the Kazakhstani youngster Hobbit has been pivotal in Gambit's success, most notably at DreamHack ZOWIE Open Winter where he was the team's best player and earned the HLTV MVP award after having only played in the top-tier scene for less than two months.
As for Zeus, his contribution cannot be overlooked. With the former Na`Vi captain, Gambit have made a lot of work on their map pool, bolstering their Cobblestone and becoming Overpass specialists, a map they only played once before the Ukrainian in-game leader came into the picture. In fact, they have a perfect record on both of those maps on LAN with the current lineup, which is something no other top10 team can boast about.
Gambit's map statistics on LAN since DreamHack ZOWIE Open Winter
Gambit are on 8-0 and 7-0 winning streaks offline on Cobblestone and Overpass, respectively, since Zeus' and HObbit's addition
While it is an impressive feat, it's a bit worrying that Gambit have played those two maps much more than any other - a total of 10 times out of 21 maps they have played offline since DreamHack Winter. However, they were quick to include the new Inferno into their arsenal and seem to be more open to playing Nuke, possibly due to Cache making its way out as Zeus notoriously avoided the map when he was still with Na`Vi.
Gambit will have had over a month's worth of practice ahead of their next event, SL i-League StarSeries Season 3 Finals, and they could very well have improved the remainder of their map pool. With two more events, cs_summit and DreamHack Open Austin, coming up for them before the end of April, they are looking to get as much as they can from the time they have and to continue to rise up the ranks.
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