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Gambit Esports had a rough tournament in Chengdu last week at the first Major Season. They came to China as one of the favorites after taking TNC to a game five in the grand finals of ESL One Hamburg, so them underperforming at the major was a rather big surprise for everyone. 

We caught with the team captain Artsiom “fng” Barshak after Gambit’s elimination, and he was brutally honest and open to discuss what went wrong for him and his team. He also took us through the whole recruitment process in the post TI9 shuffle and talked about what he thinks it holds the CIS region back at the beginning of the new season.


Hello fng , how is Chengdu and how was the overall event experience for the new Gambit, did you guys have time to go a bit outside, visit the surroundings perhaps?

Well, the tournament didn’t go well for us, so we are not exactly happy, but it’s still an experience we learn from. About Chengdu, the city, I must say that I was a bit afraid when I came here because I didn’t know what to expect. Shanghai, Beijing, are big cities, we’ve been there before, you know in general lines how it is going to be, you know what are the big things to visit and so on. Coming here we didn’t know how it will be to be so deep in China, but once we arrived we understood that everything is completely fine. Also, this was my first MLD tournament, and I was so extremely pleasantly surprised to see how well it went and how well the organizers took care of us.

I know you had a small issue with two players visas coming here, which also had an impact on your bootcamp pre-event. Has that played a big part in your run at this Major?  What changed for from ESL One Hamburg, where you had that crazy grand finals vs TNC, to this tournament?

I can find a lot of excuses, like the visa issues, sleeping problems, the jetlag, etc, but in reality, all those played a very small part in our result. We lost because we weren’t good enough to beat the teams at this Major, and I think that happened because we didn’t understand how meta will develop at this tournament. What we played at ESL One Hamburg was different, it was if you want, the first stage of the current meta, and it evolved in this tournament. The teams developed new things here and we didn’t adapt.  

What do you expect from the Outlanders update?

I feel like right now there are a lot of heroes that farm super fast. For instance, the Alchemist, he might lose the lane to some line-ups, but he goes jungle, he reaches 1000 GPM and he can’t be stopped anymore, it doesn’t matter against what heroes he is playing. As a pro player, I don’t really care what changes the patch brings, I just want to have something new to explore.

Talk to us about the team you gathered for this season, how did you come to this line-up and why didn’t you look for more CIS veterans to join you at Gambit?

Our new coach, Distilled worked previously with Team Secret and with as an analyst. We both decided to make a team together for the new season, and obviously, we first looked at gpk, because he is  a new CIS uprising star. After gpk agreed to join us, we slowly started to look for everyone else.

 We took Dream because we really wanted to try him out. We were also super impressed with XSvamp1Re in the trial period, he is also a new player to the pro scene and we were really happy with how he communicates and his playstyle. Then, we have Shachlo, who was kind of a last minute decision, because right now there are a lot of position 3 players in CIS, but we actually didn’t like any of the options we had. We tested like 4 or 5 people and we weren’t satisfied. One day I was scrolling through my friend list on Steam and I saw Shachlo playing. I know him for a few years already, so I just asked him, “hey, bro, do you want to play with us or at least give it a try?” So, we went to play a few scrims and he instantly found a good connection with the other players, which was super good, because he is already 27 years old and we were wondering how will he interact, gel with someone that’s like 17-18 years old. It was important for him and for all of us as well to find that instant connection.

Unfortunately, the CIS region is falling a bit behind at the start of this season. You are someone who has been so invested in this scene for such a long time, so what do you think the problem is? Is CIS lacking young talents, is it a lack of discipline overall or what is it?

It’s a little bit of both. We don’t have enough people willing to gather a team and work for the long run. If you look around, even after this first Major, or the Minor before it, there is a lot of shuffle going on. This is the first problem, that people are very fast in changing teams. The second one is that we have extremely inexperienced players. In the previous season, all the CIS teams, except for VP,  that made it to a Major, finished bottom four. That’s like no tournament experience at all. Now even VP disbanded, they have only 2 players from the old roster left and that means it’s a new chapter for them as well, and they have to build from basically 0 again. It’s like a full reset, it doesn’t matter what they had before. They will need time now, they need their new players to get experience so, I would say that’s why our region is struggling.

From here I guess you are flying back home for the second round of Major qualifiers, and then you are heading to Singapore for the One Esports tournament. That will be the first time when teams such Secret and LGD will be playing this season, are you looking forward to those particular matchups, or what’s the main objective going to that event?

We didn’t have the chance to play the tier one teams, here in  Chengdu, so we are looking forward to playing against as many as possible in Singapore.

Talking about the teams that took an extended break, Gambit has done the exact opposite. You guys have already been to Hamburg, now you are China, and you have a few more flights ahead of you, aren’t you afraid of an early burnout?

Yes, burnout can be a real thing in the long run, but the problem is that for a team like us, which is starting with new players and all, it’s really hard or unwise to skip some tournaments. It’s not like we won every tournament that we attended at the start of the season, and skipping one now might hurt us even more. It will come down on how we manage our time in between the tournaments. We might not scrim that much and instead, play a lot of pubs on the new patch, we will see.

Alright, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us, best of luck in the Leipzig Major qualifiers and in Singapore, and if there’s anything you would like to add at the end of our interview, please do.

Well, thank you for supporting us, even after such a disastrous result here at the MDL Chengdu.

More interviews from MDL Chengdu Major:

cml: “We look at this event as our starting point and we are fully motivated to fight for the next Major”

33: “I think Europe should get even 4 slots with the third Major”

Ghostik: “You can always learn from your loss if you accept it”

Armel: “It’s really hard to make a case for SEA to keep the 3 qualifiers slots”

Dy: “This year, rOtk has given us an order“

Boxi: “I actually hope to go at least top 4”

K1: “I think we are a rather unique team for Peru”

Abed: “I want to see Ranked Roles gone with 7.23”

TNC press conference

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