Hobbit: "I need to step up, stay calm, be patient and cheer my guys on"
We caught up with Gambit's Kazakh veteran to talk about the team's prospects in Stockholm.
Gambit are considered one of the favorites to go all of the way in Sweden, at least according to Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski and Andrei "arT" Piovezan, despite being a roster made up of four Major rookies.
At the center is Abay "HObbit" Khassenov, who matched Egor "flamie" Vasilyev's record for most kills in regulation at a Major during Gambit's barn burner against Virtus.pro in which the Kazakh Major winner downed 39 rivals to help his team secure the 16-14 victory.
After the nail biter, HObbit sat down to chat about stepping up as the veteran while the rest of his teammates adjust to the reality of playing "the most important tournament of their lives."
You've played your first three matches here, but I'm most interested about the Vertigos against Entropiq and Virtus.pro. Tell me about how Entropiq were able to get the best of you.
First of all, big respect to Entropiq, they played really well. They played with huge confidence. They have a feeling for the tournament, they understand how to win, it's easy for them to play confidently and they're doing it right now.
They're in good shape and they have nothing to lose. I've played them before and hooch is a great in-game leader with huge experience, he's a legend of the CIS region, maybe even the world.
If we talk about skill El1an is the closest thing you have to sh1ro among players, he's very talented. I've played with him and he does a lot for the team, I respect him a lot. Lack1 also, he's already confident, he was born confident! [laughs] They deserve to be here with the best teams and at the moment they've shown that they're a tier 1 team.
You left Nuke open against Virtus.pro all the way to the very end, are you ready to play it?
It was a gamble, we met VP a lot of times and I think it's a tense game. We understand that they'll ban Nuke or we'll ban Nuke. But the thing is that if we leave it open, they know that Gambit Youngsters used to play Nuke. Also, I played for Winstrike, the old Gambit in 2017, and we played Nuke. So I think we have more of an advantage at this moment.
It ended up going to Vertigo. You started off strong winning the T side, but then you struggled to get going on the CT side until the very end. Can you run me through the key moments and that final push to bring it home?
It's hard to say right now because I don't even remember. Everyone was stressed, we have some mentality problems, for sure, we don't have that much experience. Even I'm stressed. I remember playing in old the Gambit, in 2017, and everyone was calm. But now I understand that four of my teammates are stressing and things can get a bit scary.
It's OK. I need to step up at this point, I need stay calm, be patient and cheer my guys on. The score was 11-14 for them, we were losing, but we started to understand how they were playing, so we just found the key and countered them.
What was the key you found?
The key was to fight on ramp, on A, as much as possible, because they're better than us in clutch situations. They have the experience, they're more confident and they were already Major finalists.
Talking to both EliGE and arT, they had Gambit up there close to NAVI as far as favorites go. At the same time your team is mostly Major rookies, except yourself, so where do you see the team?
It's all about us, we did pretty good in practice and we did everything we could. We came here with a lot of work behind us and you know, there's a lot of stress in important tournaments, so everyone needs to step up, everyone needs to forget that it's the most important tournament of their lives. I'm trying to tell them that right now but it's not working.
We'll try to find the key because we just need to play CS:GO, play our game, that's the main thing we need to do and if we can do this, yes, I'd say we can go far.
You got the best-of-ones out of the way, what's your confidence level going into the best-of-threes?
Best-of-three is always better, best-of-one is more random, for sure, and underdogs can easily win. It's all about pistols and some forced rounds. If you lose the first pistol and first buy round it's kind of "GG" for you.
In best-of-three you have more chances to risk, more chances to adapt and more chances to change something during the game. It's more calm for the favorites.
Any last thoughts?
Yeah, it's always hard to play against CIS teams, especially against Virtus.pro. You know, they're my friends, from Kazakhstan. Dastan, he's my friend, I talk to him a lot, it's hard to beat them in such an important tournament, but I wish them good luck and I hope to see both them and us on the playoff stage.