Written by: Duncan Shields
When Gambit reached the playoffs of ESL One Cologne, the ninth CS:GO major, it was largely seen as a fluke and they were expected to be one of the Legends teams come the next major, most in danger of losing that status. Key roster moves and a Dreamhack Winter title later, Gambit looks to be an unknown quantity for many teams and has the upset potential to maybe make it back to the hallowed ground of the top eight.
A mix of old and new
Gambit are a true blend of the old and the new. Representing the old guard are Dosia, Zeus and AdreN, all of whom have been competing at the top level in Counter-Strike for a decade or more. The fresh blood is mou and HObbit, who have both shown some strong performances against lesser competition, the former more so than the latter, but still need to prove themselves at the top level as star talents.
The old juggernaut rolls on
Dosia was considered a prodigy in CS 1.6, rising up as the latter-day Russian hope and clearly wildly- skilled. Former in-game leader hooch described him as "a player from heaven". CS:GO saw him flawlessly transition his talent over, and immediately establish himself as one of the strongest players in the game. His aim was stellar and his fragging impact was felt in every game, win or lose. It's no wonder it was his Virtus.pro lineup which was the first to fell the unbeatable NiP, bringing their 87-game winning streak to an end and denying them the StarLadder StarSeries V title. As the years went on, Dosia remained a good player, but saw his slow and passive playing style become more predictable and easily read. At this point in his career, he is no longer a monster leading the horde and now sits as a stable but only above average figure.
Wily old man
Long before FalleN appeared as a great CS:GO IGL (in-game leader), Zeus was bringing a team of mixed talent levels to an effective level on the T side, running down the clock and hitting a site at an unexpected time after taking map control and making a read of the defensive set-up. That this style was effective even back in 2013 and 2014, long before Na`Vi was one of the most skill-heavy teams in the world, showed his quality as a leader at implementing his style. Zeus's style was always that of the general: demanding, commanding, decisive and ever in control of the game. He could lose the game and rarely lifted the trophy at the end of the tournament, but he went out playing his style and going off his own reads. In Gambit, he finds himself with an arsenal more comparable to those early CS:GO years of Na`Vi. Mixing in veterans and young talents, he looks to forge a cohesive style which can give his team the chance to upset bigger names, as the Na`Vi of old was famed for.
The would-be star
Mou has been playing longer than his CS:GO reputation might suggest, but he only became a relevant player in 2015. Since joining up with HellRaisers, whose lineup back then looked a lot more like Gambit does today than the team which now represents that organization, mou has been an erratic but clear talent. His AWP has dominated against tier two opposition, in similar fashion to FlipSid3's WorldEdit, but he has rarely been able to bring the same force to his game when he has been put up against the world's best. Much as with the aforementioned Russian, the skill is clearly there, but something still prevents this player from becoming a GuardiaN or kennyS.
Consistent to the core
AdreN was once a hard carry solo star, similar to NiKo or s1mple, giving his k23 team in 1.6 more opportunity to beat better teams than they rightfully should have. Early CS:GO saw him playing more of a supportive role within aim-stacked teams, though, and he was able to adapt to that world. As Gambit has opened up his game again, we have seen a merging of the two worlds, as AdreN stands as the team's best player and also its most consistent. The Kazakh is stable in his style, clutch under pressure and consistent in skill. AdreN's performances don't win the game for Gambit, but they make such wins possible in the first place, so relied upon they are.
An unexpected journey
Even a few months back, HObbit was not a name many would have expected to see winning an event like Dreamhack Winter or playing at a major. He was off in his native Kazakhstan playing for the little-known tengri and without much of a future ahead of him. Since joining Gambit, he has proven to be one of their better players and was awarded the MVP for said Dreamhack Winter, playing a vital role in their securing the trophy. It still remains to be seen if the rookie can take his talents to the major stage and come up with such big performances, but his entrance has certainly been noted.
Gambit is not going to win the major or push deep into the playoffs, but they are a team with enough flair and talent to give the bigger names something to think about, including the threat of an upset.