Avangar have been the statistical underdog throughout the tournament, but coach Dastan “dastan” Akbaev doesn’t see his team that way. “I know that we can compete with anyone,” said dastan to WIN.gg. “When we’re underdogs it’s helping because there’s less pressure, but it’s still not that easy.”
That was certainly the first case with first map of the Avangar vs. Renegades series. Avangar prevailed in overtime on Mirage with a score of 22-19, with Dzhame “Jame” Ali and Timur “buster” Tulepov leading the team with 35 kills each. The second map was complete domination by Avangar, as they raced out to a big lead en route to a 16-6 win on Dust 2.
“We know we can play and beat anyone and now we’re in the Grand Finals. From the beginning we were thinking, ‘We’re going to win the major,’” said dastan. The road to the finals hasn’t been easy. To get here, Avangar had to defeat juggernauts like Team Liquid and Team Vitality, and solid teams like G2 Esports and Complexity Gaming.
Avangar have been surprising everyone but themselves with their play so far. Dastan believes it’s due to the way they prepare for matches. “Everything is good. Preparation, sleeping well, mental preparation, good individual form, everything is good,” he said.
As far as support for their unlikely yet incredible run, Avangar have been receiving it in spades. According to dastan, their entire home country is behind them. “Not only my mother, everyone, from my grandmother, my father, my school friends, university friends, everyone in Kazakhstan knows who is Avangar.”
They’ll be rooting for the team on Sunday as they look to secure the $500,000 top prize.