In one of the most shocking upsets of this year’s IEM Katowice, Gambit Esports managed to eliminate the tournament favorites in Natus Vincere in the opening match of the playoffs. Gambit managed to surprise the Russian powerhouse in two maps, securing a spot in the semifinal.
The action kicked off on Gambit’s map pick of Overpass. While Gambit managed to win the pistol round, they couldn’t overcome Na’Vi’s second-round force buy. Spearheaded by a good performance by Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov, Na’Vi seemed set for a strong result on the CT side, running away to a 2-6 lead. A couple of crucial clutches by Gambit Esports’ Dmitri “sh1ro” Sokolov saw the underdog come back into the game. The young AWPer has made a name for himself as a serious threat in clutch situations and he lived up to his reputation, winning several rounds for his team.
The teams moved to the second half with a very competitive 8-7 scoreline. Na’Vi had a good start in the second half, fighting back to an 8-10 lead, but once Gambit could invest in rifles Na’Vi lost its grip on the game. With another great half by sh1ro, Gambit closed out the first map in 16-12 fashion.
Moving onto the second map, Na’Vi knew they had to win to keep their tournament hopes alive, but this pressure might have gotten to Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and his mates. They looked disorganized and never gave the impression of having a solid gameplan.
On the other hand, Gambit Esports was more than prepared to fend off attacks. They consistently had the edge in map control and information, and were always a step ahead of Na’Vi. On the rare occasion where Na’Vi managed to plant the bomb, Gambit seemed to always have sh1ro around as insurance, ready to pull off the clutch win.
Gambit Esports finished the first half with a convincing 11-4 lead. In the second half, they kept force buying to keep Na’Vi’s economy weak. Once they managed to win a round, Na’Vi had no cash in their reserve and were forced to play with pistols for the rest of the half.
Gambit made quick work of the tournament favorites, closing out the map and series with a 16-6 victory. They continue to the semifinal, where they’ll meet Team Spirit. Neither team has made it this far in a tournament of this size. No matter the result tomorrow, Gambit Esports will be pleased with their tournament run thus far. They made it all the way from the play-in to the semifinals, eliminating teams like mousesports, G2 Esports, and now their region’s highest-rated squad in Na’Vi in the process.