The CIS squad picked up a key win over Fighting PandaS to advance into the playoffs of the event. This sets them up with a series against Geek Fam, and gives them good positioning as they look for a backdoor into the DreamLeague Season 13 major.
The series opened in strange fashion. Gambit pinned its hopes on a late game-focused lineup surrounding Kiyalbek “dream” Tayirov’s Naga Siren while Fighting PandaS put Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao on Alchemist. Theoretically, this put Gambit into a spot where it would need to stall things out for Naga Siren to become sufficiently kitted while the PandaS would need to get an early edge and capitalize on Alchemist’s strength.
Things didn’t go according to plan, though.
Gambit got a major lead both in gold and experience, which typically indicates a doomed game for a team with Alchemist. Trouble arose when Gambit didn’t have especially strong pushing, a fact that put Fighting PandaS into a position where they could stall out the game quite effectively.
EternaLEnVy managed to rake in gold as time went on, which saw him become six-slotted and start buying Aghanim’s Scepters and Moon Shards for the rest of his team. The whole of Fighting PandaS eventually became too much for Gambit, allowing the Canadian team to take control late and lock up the game.
Gambit got swift revenge from there, though. Jonathan “Bryle” Santos De Guia struggled early in the mid lane in game two, which set up Danil “gpk” Skutin for a huge mid game. Gambit played around him, which led them to a decisive game two win to even the series.
Game three was a wild, back-and-forth affair. Fighting PandaS got off to an early lead but Gambit managed to take things right back. Fighting PandaS consistently made great plays and strong initiations, but ultimately couldn’t find the kills to swing the lead back in their favor.
Every time things seemed to be breaking against Gambit, they managed to escape with elusive heroes Timbersaw and Morphling, or made the plays with Tiny and Treant to stay alive.
Fighting PandaS was forced to go all-in on a high ground push that ultimately backfired, kicking off a series of team fights that lead to the end of the series. Gambit came out on top, winning the series 2-1 and securing a spot in the playoffs.
Gambit Esports’ victory was a big one, but Fighting PandaS has looked like a legitimate force at the WePlay! Bukovel Minor to this point. Though the team’s weak performance at the MDL Chengdu Major and failure to qualify for the DreamLeague Season 13 Major raised red flags regarding their long-term prospects, the team has looked mechanically solid throughout the event so far.
Fighting PandaS has a tough task ahead, as they will need to defeat tournament favorites Nigma to advance to the playoffs. While that might sound scary, they managed to do so in 2-1 fashion on the first day of the event in impressive fashion.
PandaS vs. Nigma is set to close out the group stage, with the winner moving onto the playoffs to face Royal Never Give Up.