VCT EMEA Challengers Playoffs — Gambit heads to the Grand Final after a crazy series
The four representatives for EMEA at Masters Berlin have been decided. G2 Esports, SuperMassive Blaze, Gambit Esports, and Acend punched their tickets to Germany by playing out of their minds in the VCT EMEA Challengers Playoffs. Now, the remaining teams play for pride, prize money, and seeding. After besting G2 in the Lower Bracket, Gambit was the first team cemented in the Lower Final. In the Upper Final, SMB defeated Acend to send them down. The Grand Final will be decided, giving spectators a fresh series with SMB vs. Gambit or a rematch of SMB vs. Acend.
Acend and Gambit Esports began their best-of-five series on Ascent. Gambit started off with a convincing pistol round, but Acend answered back after some stellar Marshal play from Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek. Another dominating round by Acend put them ahead for a short moment, only for Gambit to tie it quickly after. An even contest was the story for much of the first half until Gambit pushed ahead by way of Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin and Igor “Redgar” Vlasov. Halftime approached with Gambit up 8:4.
Gambit has said themselves that their attacking rounds are often lacking. Acend tried to prove that early on in the second half. With a pistol round victory, Acend set themselves up to close the gap. Gambit managed to put some more rounds together, however, leaving Acend to save their weapons and give it another go. With Gambit near match point, Acend would have to play perfectly. Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi kicked it into gear, keeping Acend in the fight. A tie at 11 rounds saw Gambit fight back with nAts clutching three huge kills for match point. Acend retaliated, though, to force overtime.
Bogdan “Sheydos” Naumov shut down Acend with a 3K. The first round of overtime went quickly in the favor of Gambit. The comeback from Acend was not shut down immediately into OT as they took the second round. The next round went to be Gambit with another great hold by nAts. Patryk “starxo” Kopczyński prevented a huge clutch round by Sheydos, extending OT. The back and forth continued deep into the overtime rounds. Gambit finally got a victory on their attacking side, ending the marathon map one 18:16.
Bind looked to begin the same way Ascent did. Gambit had other ideas. Instead of allowing Acend to keep things close early on, Gambit rolled through them on defense. A 4K from Redgar helped propel Gambit Esports to a quick lead. A wild clutch round by Acend turned the tide in their favor, though. Up by four rounds, Gambit quickly saw that lead diminish. A nasty Ace by Sheydos put another round back on the board for Gambit finally. Nikita “d3ffo” Sudakov took down three to ensure Gambit would enter the second half with the lead.
The sides switched with Gambit ahead 9:3. It wasn’t long before Gambit reached double digits. The pistol and subsequent round were taken easily by them. A 3K by Vladyslav “Kiles” Shvets prevented match point for the time being. Acend were unable to capitalize on that. Gambit reached match point. Many thought this game would be the one to tie up the series early on. Instead, Gambit impressed on Bind with a beating on Acend. They went up 2:0 after taking Bind 13:4.
Once again, the first two rounds were evenly shared between the two teams. Finally, Acend were the ones in the lead early on. After trading the pistol rounds, they quickly took the next pair. The attacking plan of Acend overwhelmed Gambit from the get go. The rounds kept coming for Acend, guaranteeing the lead or at least a tie before halftime seven rounds into Breeze. Well, nine rounds in a row put them in a great place. A 4K by BONECOLD gave them double digits before they even switched to defense.
Finally, halftime arrived to give Gambit a fresh start. It would be hard, though, down 11:1. A Flawless pistol round gave Gambit their second of the entire map. That allowed them to win the next round, cutting their deficit to 11:3. A big clutch by nAts lessened the lead even further. It was still quite the climb back into things needed for Gambit. Acend would find their first round after the half, giving them map point with a wonderfully utilized Viper’s Pit by BONECOLD. A couple of 3K rounds by nAts kept Gambit alive a bit longer. Miraculously, Gambit found nine rounds on Breeze, but Acend took the map 13:9.
Some questionable Agent choices kicked of map four, Haven. Gambit Esports dominated the first two rounds, but with weapons in play, Acend fought back. After tying it up, Acend fell to some insane Sheriff shots by nAts. Like the majority of maps prior to Haven, this one started with an even set of round wins. A 4K by starxo fell one short of the Ace as Redgar gave Gambit the lead again. They continued to roll with a 4K by Sheydos. While Gambit entered the second half with the lead, the first half ended with cNed and an insane 4K.
The map filled with multi-kills and unthinkable frags exited halftime and saw Acend take the pistol round. Gambit didn’t let any momentum come from that as Nikita “d3ffo” Sudakov and Redgar locked down A Site after planting the Spike. Double digits put Gambit into an advantageous spot. Acend kept pushing, hoping to take the VCT EMEA Challengers Playoffs Lower Final to a fifth map. Gambit’s lead was just too much this time around, taking the series 3:1 after winning Haven 13:7.
Stay tuned to Run It Back as the VALORANT Champions Tour continues and Masters Berlin approaches!