Gambit Gaming: Dissecting the narrative

Gambit got knocked out of Worlds, blindsiding fans and analysts alike. But did this result really come out of the blue?

If you followed any of the 2017 World Championship power rankings, it’d seem that Gambit Gaming were destined for greatness.

In fact, most analysts put them as one of the best—if not the best—wildcard teams in the tournament. Yet when you look at their 0-4 run and actual gameplay, it’s weird to think that anyone could rate this team highly at all.

Was this a case of storyline prevailing over reality? Or was there something more to the Gambit Gaming hype train?

A Troubling Premonition

By all means, Gambit should’ve hit a home run. A single glance at the roster of PvPStejos, Diamondprox, Kira, Blasting, and Edward, would let you know that there’s a lot of promise here. After all, a lineup that combines former Albus Nox Luna members with legendary Moscow 5 players might be the best shot a wildcard team has at Worlds. So it’s easy to get caught up in legacies and player histories.

But when you look at the facts, it’s clear that the deck was stacked against Gambit.

For starters, this team was put together for the 2017 LCL Summer Split, only 3 months prior to their Worlds showing. And while they did have an incredible 13-1 run, every LCL match was conducted in a Bo1 format, so Gambit still didn’t get a ton of stage experience to turn into a serious competitor.

Even more unfortunate is that Gambit fell victim to their own success. When you’re dominating the entire region in such a one-sided manner, it’s easy to become complacent, but the exact same level of play might not be enough at the international stage. In a sense, Gambit were getting away with murder, because LCL teams couldn’t punish their brash aggression.

But that’s not to say that they weren’t challenged.

The finals against M19—a team lead by the former ANX support Likkrit—should’ve been their first warning sign. Suddenly, their reckless jungle invades were getting countered, and their sloppy bot lane trades were getting capitalized on. Even so, Gambit pulled through with a hard-fought 3-2 victory, claimed their first LCL title and punched their ticket to Worlds.

A Story Worth Telling

The 2017 World Championship saw every single flaw of Gambit Gaming exposed. Weird champion priorities, wonky team compositions, and odd builds (looking at you, Spellthief’s Edge Rakan,) were just the tip of the iceberg. With their players no longer outclassing opposing laners, Gambit had a hard time getting anything going in the early game and routinely gave away kills and objectives to Team WE and Lyon Gaming.

And once they found themselves behind, it became obvious that Gambit had no idea how to set a comeback in motion, struggling to play around teleports and global cooldowns.

It’s worth noting that many things could’ve reshaped the Gambit Gaming narrative. The Group A that they were seeded into was arguably the strongest group of the tournament, so with leaner competition, Gambit could’ve secured that second-place finish. Or—perhaps—they could’ve paid more attention to fixing the issues that plagued them in their home region.

But these are all speculations and excuses for a what ended up being a very underwhelming showing from a very promising team.

So was the story of Gambit worth telling? We think, yes. It’s hard to fault analysts for not following every single emerging region, and it’s hard to blame fans for getting hyped for legendary players taking another a shot at Worlds.

But as it stands, that story has taken a major turn, with Gambit falling short when it mattered most.

What do you think of Gambit Gaming and their 2017 World Championship showing? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Daniil Volkov

I craft League of Legends narratives and cover LCK, NA & EU LCS.