One of League of Legends’ truly legendary teams, Gambit looked slated for relegation just one week ago, despite their victory at the Intel Extreme Masters Cologne during the offseason. But on Friday, they showcased some of that patented Gambit Gaming magic against one of Europe’s struggling titans.
Elements completed perhaps the highest profile acquisition of the offseason when they added superstar Martin “Rekkles” Larsson to their bottom lane. But the team’s only produced middling results so far, entering the game against Gambit on a two-game skid.
Elements picked a team focused on area-of-effect damage and area control, with Jarvan IV’s ultimate available to combo into a Lulu knockup and Rumble’s Shock and Awe. They capped it off with an old Henrik “Froggen” Hansen favorite—Anivia, the icy phoenix, whose damaging blizzard and frost wall fit perfectly into the composition.
Gambit Gaming, on the other hand, went with a skirmishing team featuring extreme mobility and pick potential, with Tresh and Morgana ready to lock up foes for the speedy Nidalee, Ahri, and Kalista.
It was a clash of styles from a different era, a callback to the Moscow 5 of yore and the Counter Logic Gaming Europe team featuring Hansen.
Through 30 minutes, it looked like Elements was on their way to winning the match. Ahead 7-2 in kills with a 2k gold lead, three Dragons, and a 4/1/3 Larsson, who looked like he was making an effort to spite his doubters with some uncharacteristically aggressive plays, the team was knocking on Gambit’s door, ready to siege down the middle turret.
But Gambit’s skirmishing—poking from multiple angles—forced the team to retreat into Gambit’s red jungle, where they pounced. Retreating while eating damage, Gambit picked off four members of Elements while barely suffering harm, leading to an easy Baron take and a significant lead in the game.
A hallmark of Elements play dating back to last season is their inability to find ways to play from behind. Last week, they looked brilliant against SK Gaming before losing one team fight and crumbling. Today was the same.
Gambit jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov played like the paragon who revolutionized jungle play in his yesteryears, eating Elements alive while posting a 6/0/3 line on Nidalee. He also pulled off a ridiculous Dragon steal, landing a spear before jumping over for the smite and taking a Thresh lantern back to safety. His ability to play alone on the flank and deal damage while staying safe had Elements confused and fans dazzled.
— Lust (@LustLoL) February 13, 2015
The victory, Gambit’s third win in a row, was also Elements’ third loss in as many games.
— Gambit Gaming (@GambitEsports) February 13, 2015
Hansen’s Anivia play is legend, one grown by performances like his ridiculous run with the champion in the all-star game at the All-Star Invitational in Paris last year. But in the LCS, it’s more of a curse: His all-time record, including playoffs, is 8-9 with the bird, and most of that came in the spring season of 2013. Since then, he’s only 2-6 with a 2.75 KDA using his favorite Anivia.
One possible reason for the two team’s opposing trajectories could be the storyline Riot Games pushed in a pregame clip: Jordan “Leviathan” Thwaites coached Alliance to the LCS title last season, but yesterday he appeared behind the bench of Gambit Gaming, leading them to a win against his former squad.
A smiling Reshetnikov believes Thwaites has certainly made an impact.
“It’s actually really new for us to have a coach which is really working with us talking about all our faults, talking about our responsibilities as teammates to each other, to not talk shit between and to stay calm all the time,” Reshetnikov said in a postgame interview. “It’s a new experience but I really like that. I feel like we’re becoming better players each day.”
He also noted that Gambit Gaming now has their “shit together,” with new Internet and a lengthy practice schedule.
Of course, where Elements could really use a coach like Thwaites was the pick and ban phase, apparently.
“They should have looked what other teams banned against us,” Reshetnikov said. “It was Nidalee. After they left Nidalee I was so happy about that. I just can’t lose.”