groove on Gambit's goals: "We want to establish ourselves in the top five"

The Russian organisation's CEO and interim head coach discussed the team's Cinderella run in IEM Katowice and their steady growth since the creation of the lineup.

Konstantin "⁠groove⁠" Pikiner took charge of Gambit's team on a temporary basis in September after Ivan "⁠F_1N⁠" Kochugov was suspended by the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) for using the spectator bug, combining his coaching duties with his role as CEO of the Russian organisation. The 38-year-old isn't new to coaching, though, having guided teams like Meet Your Makers and Moscow Five in Counter-Strike 1.6 after playing for emax and Virtus.pro for several years.

groove is Gambit's CEO and interim CS head coach

Under his guidance, the exciting Russian team ended 2020 on a high, winning DreamHack Open December and breaking into the top-15 in the world rankings. Hype surrounding Gambit began to build in the weeks leading up to IEM Katowice, and the team surpassed even the wildest of expectations as they netted the grand prize of $400,000 after a dream run that included victories over G2, Natus Vincere, Spirit and Virtus.pro.

As Gambit prepare to begin their ESL Pro League campaign against teams like NAVI, Cloud9 and MIBR in Group C, we had the chance to sit down with groove and picked his brain on what it has been like to coach again, the return of Abay "⁠Hobbit⁠" Khasenov, who was part of the organisation's Major-winning lineup in 2017, and the possibility of losing some of the team's most prized stars.

Before taking the team's reins, you hadn’t worked as a coach since the CS 1.6 days, apart from a brief experience at DreamHack Summer 2018. What made you take up the coaching role after F_1N was banned instead of hiring someone to do the job?

I've dedicated the majority of my esports career to coaching. From July 2002 until March 2006 I was a captain that additionally fulfilled the role of a coach, and afterwards, from March 2006 to February 2012, I was a professional coach in Counter-Strike 1.6. The ten years of experience competing against the best teams in Europe and the world largely continue to help me to this day. Since the creation of Gambit Youngsters I had taken an active part in the formation of the team's approach to tactical thought and the development of a training regiment, so my candidacy as a coach was quite logical. We didn't have to make drastic adjustments.

Will you stay as the team’s coach?

I will be coaching the team until F_1N's suspension period expires [Editor's Note: June 20].

What is it like to combine the role of CEO with your coaching duties?

I am only able to combine these two roles because of the pandemic. Since I don't have to constantly travel to tournaments with various Gambit Esports rosters, I have free time, which I use to work with our teams.

How much of Gambit’s success is due to Hobbit’s leadership? Do you think that his experience was the missing ingredient?

Firstly I'd like to address the role distribution of our team: nafany is the in-game leader, Hobbit assists him predominantly during mid-game calls and stressful situations; sh1ro is the AWPer, who takes on an active role in structuring our game; interz and Ax1Le are great executors that bring a lot of impact through individual actions on the map. There's no doubt that Hobbit became the missing element of the puzzle, as his experience and high individual skill level allow us to set more challenging objectives and successfully achieve them.

How is it to work with such a group of young players apart from Hobbit? What has it been like to follow their growth?

The most important thing when working with young players is patience and willingness to invest in the long-term. Gambit was the first professional esports organization for Ax1Le, interz, nafany, and sh1ro, and when they joined our team they were only 16-17 years old. Over the course of the past two years, we have gone from a beginner-level youth roster to becoming champions of the world in IEM Katowice 2021 — it was an unforgettable experience and incredibly emotional.

groove with the team in 2019, when it still played as Gambit Youngsters

Some organisations will definitely keep an eye on your players moving forward, especially sh1ro. Is the organisation confident in keeping the players if offers start to come?

Gambit is a storied organisation with a list of international titles in various competitive gaming disciplines. Our experience and resources allow us to provide all the necessary conditions for our players, and I'm confident in every player that's part of our roster.

You were the lowest-ranked team in IEM Katowice and now you’re the fourth-best team in the world. What were your expectations for IEM Katowice and what are the goals moving forward?

Despite the fact that Gambit was ranked 19th in the world prior to the start of the tournament, we knew that our actual capabilities were somewhat different and that we were already able to beat teams in the top 10. This deduction was based not only on practice matches that had taken place in the previous six months but also on our tactical developments on various maps. Aside from this, we won DreamHack Open and were top eight in DreamHack Masters Winter, which gave us an additional confidence boost. We expected to make the playoffs in IEM Katowice, which means that we planned to make it into the top six teams at the event. As for this year, the team has set the goal of establishing itself in the top five in the world.

Kazakhstan Abay 'Hobbit' Khasenov
Abay 'Hobbit' Khasenov
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
902
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.66
Russia Ivan 'F_1N' Kochugov
Ivan 'F_1N' Kochugov
Age:
37
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.60
Maps played:
3
KPR:
0.44
DPR:
0.83
Year of CIS CS. Can't wait for LAN to be back so CIS region can shut up the doubters.
2021-03-18 17:03
17 replies
#18
allu | 
Finland _Top1
On LAN CIS will dissapear and CIS fangirls will cry and come up with excuses nt
2021-03-18 17:04
11 replies
No way to know until LAN happens :). We can go back and forth on our opinions all day. I'm tired of the "WaIt TIlL LaN iS bACk!i!i!" arguement being used to totally discredit some teams achievements
2021-03-18 17:07
5 replies
+1 who tf cares about how they will play on LAN, WHEN WE DONT EVEN KNOW WHEN WE GET LANS BACK?!?!?!
2021-03-18 17:39
3 replies
#77
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Estonia simondoggo
+1
2021-03-19 01:27
Well, we kinda do know... Not later, than this Autumn
2021-03-19 11:49
1 reply
yeah I know it was formulated wrong, but there is still a good chance that the event will be canceled :D
2021-03-19 11:59
#73
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Russia M1shV4T
+1
2021-03-18 23:32
So true, cant wait. Where tf those teams have been until the online era?
2021-03-19 07:40
3 replies
#106
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Russia TRAV1SZ
u just new there.... not them
2021-03-24 11:25
2 replies
Im new to this site definitely not to the game.
2021-03-24 19:33
1 reply
#112
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Russia TRAV1SZ
wdym then? all these lineup's are LAN players,no? vp. spirit. gambit. forze.
2021-03-24 21:20
Every LAN csgo major says otherwise
2021-03-22 22:01
Actually so stoked for lans, i really hope they're not cheating
2021-03-21 21:02
#93
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Russia Thfthf
Why do people mention LANs to be so different? Im probably a noob but I never understood that actually. Is that meant some mental stability and experience? If so doesnt a pure skill still matter first of all even if its Online.
2021-03-22 02:46
2 replies
LAN's are different you cant really deny that. Historically we've seen players who perform great online but no-show on LAN. Some players are just way more comfortable in their natural environment (at home, in their room) versus on LAN (especially if it's a big stage in front of thousands of people). It's all a mental thing I think, calming your nerves and staying focused on the game and not the crowd and what not. It's like a basketball game. Some dude's are just more comfortable playing pick up, playing in a gym, in an empty arena versus big stage games in front of a crowd. BUT like you said, the majority of it is still pure skill based regardless and that's why these "WAIT TILL LAN" arguments are stupid to me. Someone like Sh1ro wont see his mechanics or his awareness just vanish on LAN... he may take some time to get use to playing on LAN/in front of crowds but I can't see him being trash on LAN. Way too much talent in that kid.
2021-03-22 03:06
1 reply
#95
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Russia Thfthf
Yeah, thank you. As I thought. And I agree a player just need time at LANs to get used to it even if hes nervous at first.
2021-03-22 04:30
Gambit has won Major on LAN... so LAN no problem for GAMBIT... EZ LOGIC
2021-03-23 14:48
#8
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Tunisia Sk1zo10
not gonna happen Fluke team
2021-03-18 17:02
calm down bro, long way ahead of you
2021-03-18 17:02
fluke af
2021-03-18 17:03
0/8 top30 max
2021-03-18 17:03
5 replies
nt noscener
2021-03-18 17:04
4 replies
Nt flukescener
2021-03-18 17:05
nt fluke no scener
2021-03-18 19:28
2 replies
Reply needs to have actual content
2021-03-18 19:31
Noscene malding
2021-03-18 23:48
That guy next to nafany must be his brother right? hhahah they fcking look the same
2021-03-18 17:06
1 reply
nafany but plays rugby
2021-03-18 17:11
#24
 | 
United States weaboo
Bots
2021-03-18 17:08
#27
 | 
United States drac0z
lets go gambit :D hopefully spirit will finally beat their rivals once :D
2021-03-18 17:11
#29
 | 
Russia ToughGuy
salty kids in comments
2021-03-18 17:11
1 reply
#107
 | 
Russia TRAV1SZ
just salt them
2021-03-24 11:28
#31
 | 
Russia INNESOR
nt maithaiters
2021-03-18 17:14
Not impossible only heroic, astralis, fnatic, navi, spirit, VP, nip, Liquid in their way pretty much
2021-03-18 17:19
4 replies
-na'vi, fnatic xD, spirit, vp
2021-03-24 02:42
3 replies
Spirit and VP are better. fnatic is slumping but can comeback ezpcy. NAVI still decent, top10 at least.
2021-03-24 07:39
2 replies
VP lost both bo5,bo3 in a row to gambot Spirit questionable Fnatic won’t enter top 10 as long jw in roster Navi in slump
2021-03-24 08:36
1 reply
Yeah gambit win vs spirit and VP atm, but overall VP and spirit is superior vs other top tier teams. And all three stomp navi ofc. Idk, JW on LAN could become a bit scary again:) but yeah JW, golden and jack is not looking like a scary team. NAVI still in the top.
2021-03-24 11:52
1 lucky tourney unluko
2021-03-18 17:20
Top5? Maybe top10
2021-03-18 17:26
3 replies
they are already top5
2021-03-18 17:46
2 replies
In online era where both big and heroic has been #1
2021-03-18 17:50
1 reply
BIG agree but Heroic were actually legit, I think they played too many tournaments in a row and got antistratted, they needed to take a break, every team prepared for them and read them pretty well after their 2 tournament wins, look at them now, they are playing really good again, they just needed to reset and refresh their game
2021-03-18 18:55
#44
 | 
Norway Balta69
EZ4GROVESTREET
2021-03-18 17:47
#45
 | 
Canada firtlast
is no one else gonna comment on how 'groove' is a really cool nickname
2021-03-18 17:49
everyone mad in comments kkkkk
2021-03-18 17:54
#49
 | 
Turkey 69kagan
"fluke" lol
2021-03-18 18:00
fluke
2021-03-18 18:16
FURIA > Flukebot arT > nafany
2021-03-18 18:16
1 reply
DELUSIONAL_FURIA_FAN
2021-03-18 18:23
What a CEO! F_1N obviously putting in 70% of the work behind the scenes ofc though...
2021-03-18 18:19
1 reply
Yo le noob, Well from what I know his suspension only counts towards official matches, it would be dumb to pretend they ould have any control over the way they practice and make their strats.
2021-03-22 11:43
#54
 | 
Russia mshkoda
Gl nice team
2021-03-18 18:25
#55
 | 
Japan Icar_noob
Astralis going to have trouble walking after gambit is finished with them :((
2021-03-18 18:32
AHHAHAHAHAHA one fluke win online and the man is drowning in delusions
2021-03-18 18:45
1 reply
well, they were playing really good for a while now, so i don't think its a fluke btw german flag kekw
2021-03-19 09:34
#57
 | 
Serbia LtN))
cya lan
2021-03-18 18:45
groove , you're legend , respect to you
2021-03-18 18:47
they need to do -interz -nafany and get decent tier1 players, then it should be easy top5 for gambit
2021-03-18 18:52
everytime I see a post like this the team proceeds to become trash gambit out in groups, you heard it here first
2021-03-18 18:55
#62
 | 
Poland mlodzier
best CEO in Cs:go industry. Tell me another team who made to top 5 with their youngster team project who were about play among tier 3 (that was their goal at the beginning) aiming higher slowly, making rational decisions (glad they didnt sell sh1ro/Ax1le and they get rid off supra for Hobbit which is one of the best transfer moves throughout some time) gl to Gambit and i hope they will succeed
2021-03-18 18:58
#63
 | 
Poland SebL
I really respect the fact that the man is at the same time a coach and the CEO, I can only imagine how much he is working. Gambit is an org. who has some money behind them, and they want to make this roster T1, or keep them in T1 I should say, and I don't think they will let players like sh1ro go to other teams. However I don't think without roster changes they will be able to stay in TOP 5 for long, I mean, their firepower is one of the best in the world, but when other teams will start to watch their demos, they will see that their playstyle is really counterable, and I honestly feel like this team is going to fall in next months. But I wish them the best, for the players and the org.
2021-03-18 19:01
Fluke won something now they think they are good xd.
2021-03-18 19:01
1 reply
#115
 | 
Russia reguix
g2 won nothing and now they think they are good xd.
2021-03-26 19:09
#65
 | 
Asia en1lykS
CEO taking care of his team (and coaching).. Hm, very interestink
2021-03-18 19:04
1 reply
very fake and unprofessional
2021-03-18 19:32
who on Gambit's Goals?
2021-03-18 19:41
what are you on about man won a fluke tour and now he think they a world class team pathetic
2021-03-18 23:12
1 reply
What?
2021-03-22 13:57
1.6 god
2021-03-18 23:47
loool kids typing "wait for LAN" but we dont even know when the LANS will start, cool down mad haters
2021-03-18 23:50
2 replies
#82
 | 
North America joeS
we are at least having LANs this year tho, no? Like didn't they already state after the mid-year we'd get at least 1 event LAN.
2021-03-19 11:37
1 reply
they said the same shit towards the end of last year too
2021-03-23 00:47
#79
 | 
Russia Syonamaru
Groove >> Blade
2021-03-19 08:56
1 reply
Cant compare them, groove is a manager, blade is a cs pro/coach.
2021-03-19 11:46
groove is a legend.
2021-03-19 11:45
#90
 | 
United States heakalele
Nt onliner
2021-03-20 07:43
2 replies
reported 😡😡😡
2021-03-22 15:05
Cry is free
2021-03-23 00:45
#91
 | 
Germany F0kussi3rt
Dude Grovw looks like the Guy from Family Guy. You now tht pervert one
2021-03-21 14:13
nice
2021-03-24 18:09
la professor
2021-03-24 19:45
#113
 | 
Korea dukuuhaha
old Gambit is back again wuhu
2021-03-25 06:35
yep
2021-03-26 07:33
onliners think they are something special LUL
2021-03-29 06:06
I like Gambit online ! But i'm pretty sure LAN WON'T BE THE SAME... Unfortunately cuz INTERNET MAGIC...
2021-03-30 12:26
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