Gambit Gaming may bench a legend
All good things come to an end, they say, and today Gambit Gaming proved that statement is true in League of Legends, when they decided to continue the deconstruction of their legendary five-man roster.
“Darien and Diamond are currently struggling to have an impact on our performance,” states Gambit. “Due to the fact that they didn’t step up their play over the course of the past seven weeks, we are currently considering moving both of them to a substitute position and replacing them with new players.”
The move comes on the heels of a disastrous Super Week where the team lost four matches, leaving their League Championship Series record at 5-13, deep in the relegation zone, in danger of losing their position in the LCS.
The legendary Gambit Gaming lineup took its first hit at the start of the Summer Split of the LCS, when mid laner Alex "Alex Ich” Ichetovkin left the team, but their decline can be traced back a even earlier.
Gambit argues that IEM Katowice in March was the turning point. Before Katowice the team was 12-8 in the LCS Spring Split, but ended the season 4-9 and barely escaped relegation by placing fifth in the playoffs. Since then, it’s been all downhill for the Russians.
“Our team has been together for more than two and a half years now, and we feel like we are in a dire need of a fresh blood,” writes Gambit. “We have always believed that success lies in a stability of a roster and we still think this way, but right now we believe that an influx of new players is necessary.”
Gambit brought in Sebastian “niQ” Robak as a trial mid laner to start the season, eventually making him a permanent fixture on the team. It seems they will take a similar approach this time around, but it's unclear just who might be available on a trial basis. Or who can live up to the legends that are being replaced.
Replacing Reshetnikov and Mazaev will be a tough task. Reshetnikov is famous for revolutionizing League strategy by developing counter-jungling, and as recent as the start of this year was still considered the best jungler in Europe.
"For some people who love me, from the King of the Jungle I turned into a disappointment,” wrote Reshetnikov in a heartfelt statement to his fans a few days ago, before news of his imminent benching was announced. “I could blame jungle meta, or my team, or you, or myself. But I won’t. I will keep calm and stay training more, because I need it, my team need it and I don’t want you to irrevocably lose faith in me.”
Replacing Reshetnikov won’t be easy, and it’s quite possible Gambit ends up with the player back in the lineup. But the team believes they are "severly limited by team shot calling and communication with our jungler," so that's an area in which Reshetnikov surely needs to improve. His almost psychic connection with previous mid laner Ichetovkin is a thing of the past, and his synergy with Robak seems to be lacking.
Mazaev could also find his way back into the lineup, but Gambit could probably use a more conventional and consistent player manning the top lane. The days of Gambit taking an advantage while Mazaev sacrifices himself seem to be a thing of the past.
The glory days of Gambit Gaming ended when Ichetovkin left the team, but if Reshetnikov and Mazaev also leave the lineup, it will truly be the end of an era.
Bursting onto the scene in 2011, the lineup featuring Mazaev, Reshetnikov, Ichetovkin, Edward Abgayran, and Evgeny “Genja” Andryushin decimated the League of Legends competitive scene in an unprecedented way. Then called Moscow Five, their creativity and ability to adapt to changes in the metagame was unrivalled, allowing them to win matches in new and exciting ways. In 2012, the team won two IEM tournaments before becoming the European champions and placing third at the Season 2 World Championships. Gambit raked in over $500,000 in winnings over its history.
But all that success is now a thing of the past. This season, Gambit Gaming won’t be competing for any titles. They won’t be winning any money. They are struggling to stay out of relegation, to keep their spot in the LCS, and to hold on to their pro gaming careers. Careers that, for some, may soon be over.
All good things really do come to an end.