IEM Katowice 2021 Winner: Who Are Gambit Esports?
IEM Katowice 2021 ran out two weeks ago, but the echoes of one of the most significant tournaments can still be heard in the esports community.
And all because the winner of the tournament turned out to be the most underestimated team, the «dark horse», whose main trump card was the good old professionalism and hard training, which allowed them to beat the «oldies» and become the most prospective team this year.
Who are Gambit Esports? Let's rewind a little...
Gambit Esports is a Russian esports organization, founded in 2013 and based in the UK. The organization includes teams in four top esports disciplines: CS:GO, Dota 2, Fortnite, and LOL. Champions of PGL Major Krakow 2017 and IEM Katowice 2021 in CS: GO, three-time champions of IEM in League of Legends, and multiple winners of Fortnite and Dota 2 tournaments.
Gambit Esports: CS:GO
In January 2016, the Gambit organization signed the HS.GG team, consisting of three former Hellraisers Dauren «AdreN» Kystaubaev, Rustem «mou» Telepov, and Mikhail «Dosia» Stolyarov, as well as Dmitry «hooch» Bogdanov and Jan «wayLander» Rakhkonen.
Already at the first offline tournament — the CIS Minor MLG Columbus 2016 Gambit become champions, thereby getting a slot in the closed qualifier for the Major, which they also successfully pass. At MLG Columbus 2016 itself, the team took 9th-12th place.
- In July 2016, Jan «wayLander» Rahkonen was expelled from the main roster, replaced by Ivan «spaze» Obrezhan. At ESL One Cologne 2016, the team took 5-8 places.
- In September 2016, Ivan «spaze» Obrezhan left the main team, Emil «kUcher» Akhundov joined the team to participate in the Adrenaline Cyber League LAN finals. Immediately after the end of the tournament, Dmitry «hooch» Bogdanov announced his retirement from the team. And in mid-October Abai «HObbit» Khasenov and Daniil «Zeus» Teslenko joined the Gambit lineup.
- At ELEAGUE Major 2017, the team takes 5th-8th place.
The team becomes the champion at PGL Major Krakow 2017. In the group stage, the Gambits won three victories without suffering a single defeat. In the quarter-finals, they defeated the Swedish team Fnatic 2:0, Astralis from Denmark 2:1, and in the final of the tournament, they beat the Brazilian team Immortals on three maps, and won $500, 000. That day Gambit Esports became the first team from the CIS countries to win the CS:GO Major.
On August 9, 2017, Daniil «Zeus» Teslenko and coach Mikhail «Kane» Blagin moved to Natus Vincere, and on August 15, Bektiyar «fitch» Bakhytov joined the team. In October, Andrey «Andi» Prokhorov became the coach of the squad.
After ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 Bektiyar «fitch» Bakhytov left the main team. Former Na'Vi and Flipsid3 player Denis «seized» Kostin was invited to replace him and soon became a full-fledged member of the team.
- On May 27, 2018, Denis «seized» Kostin left the team, and Vega Squadron player Nikolay «mir» Bityukov was invited to take his place.
- On June 10, 2018, Andrey «Andi» Prokhorov left the post of coach. On June 24, former Flipsid3 Tactics player Andrey «B1ad3» Gorodenskiy, who was loaned from an American organization until the end of September 2018, was invited to the post of coach.
At the qualifiers for FACEIT Major 2018, the team takes 8-12 places and does not qualify for the main part of the Major. Immediately after the defeat, Abai «HObbit» Khasenov announced his retirement.
- On September 19, 2018, Abay «HObbit» Khasenov was put up for transfer.
- On October 17, 2018, Dauren «AdreN» Kystaubaev left the team.
The last two are replaced by Dmitry «dimasick» Matvienko and Sergey «Ax1le» Rykhtorov. Soon, after an unsuccessful performance at StarSeries i-League season 7 Europe Qualifier, Vladislav «bondik» Nechiporchuk replaced Dmitry «dimasick» Matvienko in the team.
In January 2019, the team did not qualify for the Major (for the first time since January 2016) after a disastrous performance at the CIS Minor IEM Katowice 2019, finishing fourth.
From Gambit Youngsters to Gambit Esports
The CS:GO youth division appeared in April 2019. Just 5 months later, the team won their first LAN tournament MSI Gaming Arena in New York and became the first youth squad to be included in the top 25 teams in the world according to HLTV.org. The youth squad originally was called Gambit Youngsters, but in October 2020, they became the main squad of Gambit Esports.
At the end of February 2021, the «gambits» won IEM Katowice and became one of the five strongest teams in the world according to the HLTV and ESL ratings.
The current roster of Gambit Esports CS:GO
Abai HObbit Khasenov (rifler)
Gambit Hall of Fame member and Cracow Major champion returned to the team to help the young five finally get rid of the Youngsters prefix. In 2017, he took 11th place in the ranking of the best players in the world according to HLTV.org
Timofey interz Yakushin (rifler)
An example of hard work, Tim can shoot bots' heads for days on end, and in the game, he is responsible for the most difficult and uncomfortable positions. Despite his outward modesty, he is in charge of jokes and memes in the team.
Vladislav nafany Gorshkov (captain)
Captain and leader, Vlad knows how to cheer up even in the most difficult situation and always speaks frankly. Fan of oriental culture.
Dmitry sh1ro Sokolov (sniper)
A rising star of the CIS scene, showing excellent game even at ping 100. At the beginning of his career, along with CS:GO, he played Dota 2 but decided that it was better to be a sniper with an AWP in his hands. Anime fan and the unluckiest person in getting visas.
Sergey Ax1Le Rykhtorov (rifler)
The youngest and most experienced player in the squad. He managed to play for the base of Gambit Esports hand in hand with the legends of the club — Dosia and mou. Between rounds, he manages to do homework on chemistry. The most humble and quiet on the team, one of the leaders in the game.
Alexander Sweetypotz Shcherbakov (manager)
Multitasking is in Sasha's blood: a master of sports in bobsleigh and American football, as well as a first-class basketball player, playfully copes with the role of manager of three teams at once — in CS:GO, Apex and Fortnite.
Konstantin groove Pikiner (trainer)
Konstantin is the co-founder and sports director of Gambit Esports, in the past — the legendary Russian Counter-Strike player: world champion and multiple medalists of international competitions. Konstantin took over as CS: GO roster coach in September 2020 after Ivan «F_1N» Kochugov was disqualified for using a bug in spectator mode.
Ivan F_1N Kochugov (analyst)
The legendary Russian player in Counter-Strike 1.6, in the early 2000s, played side by side with Gambit’s sports director Konstantin Pikiner. When switching to the Global Offensive, he retrained to the role of a coach and gave preference to working with young people. Strict but fair.
History of previous wins
Before winning the IEM, Gambit had already managed to prove themselves and take good prize pools. The team became the winner of the sixth tournament of the Nine to Five series, receiving $35,000. In the final match, they defeated Nemiga with a score of 2:0-16:4 on Vertigo and 16:14 on Inferno.
Gambit started from the quarterfinals stage as an invited participant and beat Espada and SKADE during the playoffs. Nemiga also got a slot in the quarterfinals and defeated the Giants and forZe on their way to the grand final.
Also in 2020, Gambit Esports became the DreamHack Open CS: GO champion. In the final, they beat Team Spirit 3:1-6:16 on Dust2, 16:2 on Train, 16:5 on Overpass, and 16: 8 on Mirage. For the victory, Abai's team HObbit Khasenov received $ 50,000.
IEM Katowice 2021
Throughout the tournament, the Goodfellas from Gambit played well, smoothly, but still, no one expected them to become winners. For example, Sergey «lmbt» Bezhanov predicted the victory of NAVI and «did not see how Gambit could win».
Of course, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, but the underdogs went down in the history of one of the most prestigious CS:GO tournaments, having skillfully dealt with NAVI, G2, Heroic, Team Spirit and, of course, Virtus.pro in the final, winning a big jackpot of $ 400,000.
The best tactic for winning is to take opponents by surprise, thereby undermining their self-confidence. Add here hundreds of hours of practice and play over the past year and here is a ready-made manual for future winners.
Gambit Esports took second place in the updated rating of the best CS:GO 2021 (March) teams in the world according to ESL.
For the victory at IEM Katowice 2021, Gambit rose eight positions. It is noteworthy that another finalist of the tournament, Virtus.pro, did not change its position in the list and remained on the fifth line of the rating.
On the one hand, the victory of Gambit Esports will not fundamentally change the course of CS:GO history, but it is very illustrative and will serve as an example to others — do not underestimate your opponent, exalting your many years of gaming experience and age, over young heads, and be prepared for the most unexpected outcome of event.
Gambits were transferred to the main roster only five months ago, and came to the IEM, occupying the 19th place in the world at that time, but emerged as champions. And MVP Dmitry «sh1ro» Sokolov even beat the record of Alexander «s1mple» Kostylev for the number of clutches.
This Gambit roster is something special, and since most of their players are now between 18 and 20 years old, one can only guess what more surprises to expect from the team in the future.