Before DreamHack Winter, no sensible analyst predicted Gambit Gaming would win the tournament. They were considered a dark horse—at best. This particular lineup had only played one LAN together and, although they won that LAN, the team remained an unknown quantity. However, Gambit was able to win DreamHack Winter in quite shocking fashion.
The Favorites Out Early
Going into this event, Team Dignitas and Cloud9 were seen as the heavy favorites. Each of these teams had recently won a big LAN event and their lineups were looking strong. OpTic Gaming were also considered contenders. OpTic’s roster has shown good potential, especially with their victory at Northern Arena Montreal. However, each of these teams failed to make it out of the group stage.
DIG were responsible for their own demise, losing their first match and the subsequent best-of-three. Gambit knocked out the NA threats, defeating OpTic in a best-of-one before taking out C9 in the best-of-three decider match to advance.
Continued New Form
While it was a shock that Gambit looked so good in the groups, they continued their strong play into the bracket stage. They faced off against GODSENT in the semifinals and were still considered underdogs by many. They won a very close best-of-three, barely edging out GODSENT on the third map.
They wrapped up their tournament win against Renegades, winning the finals 2-0. Renegades were another surprise at this event. After the group stages were finished, some experts picked RNG to win the event. RNG kept it competitive, but were overwhelmed by Gambit’s firepower.
One of the keys to Gambit’s success was their dominance on Cobblestone, which they went 4-0 on at the event. Gambit even kept C9 and GODSENT on single digit scorelines. It was the team’s most dominant map, and Gambit outmatched all of their opponents on both sides. The tactical approach of their new in-game leader, Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko, has clearly been quite effective.
Gambit’s new addition to their lineup, Abay “HObbit” Khasenov, was the indisputable MVP of the tournament. After this event he looks like the star player for Gambit, although Rustem “mou” Tlepov was right behind H0bbit in terms of stats and impact.
Gambit Going Forward
While this was only the second LAN event for this lineup,Gambit have won both events they’ve attended. They claimed Acer Predator Masters Season 3 against tier two and tier three teams, and at DreamHack Winter, Gambit proved they are able to beat top tier teams.
The leadership of Zeus has the team looking sharp on certain maps, but they still have plenty of room to develop. On maps like Cobblestone, they look strong, but they’re still shaky on others. Gambit achieved “legend” status by making it to the quarterfinals of the last Major. This means that they do not have to go through the next major qualifier, which is, it’s worth noting, almost a major in itself due to the level of competition. The team has a lot of time to flesh out their map pool before the ELEAGUE Major in January, and will need to prove themselves against other elite teams like Virtus.pro, SK Gaming, and even DIG. Regardless, this event was very promising for Gambit.