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photo by: ESL One

Lower bracket semifinals at ESL One Birmingham brought a rematch of the ESL Katowice grand finals. It was Gambit Esports new chance to take down the giants. Coming into the ESL One Birmingham playoffs, Gambit Esports were on a 0-9 loss record against Team Secret and given their fantastic run through the lower bracket so far, they were right to hope for a change.

Game one started abysmally for the CIS squad. Their courier was sniped down twice in the first four minutes, Secret have also secured the first blood and had a beautiful draft crafted for early aggression and ridiculously strong team fights. Secret’s power resided in the Warlock’s Fatal Bonds paired with Sven, Medusa and Batrider. The synergy between all these heroes made it impossible for Gambit to fight, to contest objectives or to even defend high ground and the game was lost in 30 minutes.

Heading into the second game, Gambit had the right approach for the laning stage. They played insanely aggressive, forced Clement “Puppey” Ivanov to feed more than necessarily and even managed to prevent  Michał “Nisha” Jankowski’s Anti-Mage from properly farming. Gambit had the game in their hands and with an early radiance on Lone Druid they looked like they could force one-two team fights to shut down Secret entirely. However, a ward placed by Puppey in the Gambit jungle allowed Secret to find the perfect moment for initiation and spin the game on its head. With Nisha able to finish the Battle Fury and the Manta Style, Secret were fully back into the game, took a Roshan kill and proceeded on punishing Gambit Esports for missing their timings.

“They were on a timer,” said Puppey at the end of the series during the winner’s interview, perfectly resuming what just happened on that second game where Gambit looked like they could force a decisive game three. Unfortunately for the CIS fans, Gambit Esports’ run in Birmingham ends with a 0-11 win-loss record against the Dota Pro Circuit leaders and with just a fourth-place finish. Gambit and Secret will have another chance to duel later this month, at the final Major of the season, EPICENTER 2019. Until then, Secret will return onto the Arena Birmingham stage tomorrow, June 2, when they will meet PSG.LGD Gaming in the lower bracket finals.

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