In what would have definitely been classified as a stunner before the event, Gambit Gaming won the PGL Krakow Major on Sunday in a thrilling three set final against another surprising finalist in Immortals. Here are the final five takeaways from a truly off bracket stage.
Gambit grinds to victory
Gambit had the best T-side of all teams at the Major, a trend that began by winning no less than seven rounds on each map of the group stage. It wasn’t just the quantity of rounds but the consistency of T-side gun round wins that propelled Gambit into the playoffs. The trend continued against Fnatic in the quarterfinals, where Gambit was unstoppable on Inferno and snagged a 2-0 victory. Astralis was a much more difficult gameplan, but a spectacular performance from mou on Overpass gave Gambit breathing room. The final map on Train was a treat and beautiful to watch as Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko fired up his teammates during a 13-12 timeout. Even though Astralis had the momentum, his entry on Peter “Dupreeh” Rothmann to open up the A bombsite won Gambit the map instantaneously. The grand final began with an embarrassing first map on Cobblestone against Immortals. But the infamous T-side showed up on Train and carried Gambit into Inferno, the final map. Mou killed Astralis, Zeus carried on Train but it was HObbit’s turn this time. His stellar play and numerous 1-v-X victories sealed a tremendous run to become the first CIS team to win a Major. Gambit’s victory was truly inspirational, showcasing just how good of a leader Zeus is.
Immortals fades late
Despite one of the easiest routes to a Major final in recent memory, Immortals deserves credit for standing its ground and beating Virtus.pro on the Poles’ home turf in the semifinals. Vito “kNg” Giuseppe has been implemented and used efficiently during his brief time with the team. When he had the second AWP, Immortals looked unbeatable. Unfortunately for the Brazilians, they couldn’t win enough rounds in a row to justify buying it often against Gambit. I still believe this team is levels below SK Gaming and don’t expect that to change any time soon. While Immortals can still improve, I don’t expect another finals appearance. Instead, I expect more consistent top 4-8 placings.
Much needed time off for SK
After winning four of its last five events coming in to the Major, SK Gaming was considered the favorite to win by most. Due to the random draw, the Brazilians had to face the team with the best chance to beat them in the quarterfinal, and Astralis made quick work of SK with a 2-0 victory. Had seeding been used, it’s quite possible Sunday’s final would have looked much different. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo cited his players were suffering from fatigue and burnout leading up to the event. I don’t want to make excuses, but I feel that was a large factor heading into the Major. I’d suggest SK skipping an event or two in the future, but who knows how much influence (if any) ESForce plays in the team’s scheduling. The player break will only help SK leading up to DreamHack Malmo and the rest of the year.
We won’t even talk about Virtus.pro’s 2-0 victory against North, seeing as how North has been terrible lately. Instead we’ll jump to the semifinals. I have frequently pointed out how pivotal Byali is for this team, but it was even more obvious when VP lost to Immortals on Saturday. He was almost non-existent on Inferno. Losing Mirage is inexcusable and proof VP is still slumping after nearly winning the last Major. Roster moves just aren’t an option when you look at other players from Poland, so VP needs to keep experimenting with roles as it gets later in the year.
Teams to monitor
Post-Major roster shuffles. I love them and you love them. They are coming. Na’Vi players already stated publicly that they will make a roster move soon, but who else should we keep an eye on? First and foremost, North. I published an article before the Pro League Finals about North talking with Valde, and it’s quite clear North needs to make a change. Next, we have Fnatic. They made Legend status at the Major, but they have issues. This lineup has had sufficient time to get it together and it’s not quite working as well as many expected. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stick it out though. Arguments can be made for other teams, but I’m not expecting any other ground breaking moves.
Cover photo by Robert Paul/DreamHack.