Gambit Esports looked like potential Major champions as they defeated Fnatic in straight games at the PGL Major.
Kicking off the tournament’s playoffs in fine fashion, Gambit bested Fnatic 16-14 on Train and 16-12 on Inferno. While each game was close, Gambit looked consistently the better team.
Key to Gambit’s victory was a clean sweep of all four pistol rounds played in the series, a particularly notable feat given the presence of pistol specialist Dennis Edman on the Fnatic roster. These victories helped to establish Gambit’s early economy on each side of play.
Fnatic tried a variety of strategies to try and lock the game’s momentum in their favor, including a rare triple AWP setup on the defending side of Train. The tactic nearly lost Fnatic the round, as an aggressive push by a saving Gambit did significant damage and resulted in a bomb plant. Even with the round ending in their favor, Fnatic were never really able to recover.
Gambit nearly ended the first game much earlier than the final round of regulation in which it was ultimately decided. Mihail “Dosia” Stolyarov flanked his Swedish opposition and was set to pick up multiple uncontested kills when he was hit by a hail of friendly fire through a nearby wall. The noise tipped Fnatic off to Stolyarov’s position and limited the damage he was able to inflict, leading to a Fnatic round win.
In spite of the gaffe, Gambit did manage to hold Fnatic’s second half comeback off and take the opening map.
Stolyarov solid play on Train gave way to dominance on Inferno. The Russian veteran collected 30 frags over the course of the second map, providing the bulk of the firepower behind captain Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko’s expert leadership. A mid-game surge by Fnatic was again stymied, and Gambit found themselves booking a spot in the major’s semifinal round.
It’s a massive accomplishment for Gambit, not only because of the guaranteed top four placing, but also because of who they beat to get there. Fnatic had on two prior occasions eliminated Gambit from the quarterfinals of a major, making this an avenging result for the CIS team.
In a post-game interview, Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev made it clear that his team was not yet satisfied.
“I’m going to win this tournament,” Kystaubayev said.
The quarterfinals continue with SK Gaming vs. Astralis and BIG vs. Immortals today, and North vs. Virtus Pro tomorrow.