With their season on the line, Gambit Gaming, who just last year proved themselves to be one of the strongest League of Legends teams in the world, was sent packing by the game’s brightest rookie class.
How did one of the strongest teams get knocked out of playoffs so early? The truth is, the games weren’t even close.
Both Gambit and their opponents, Team ROCCAT, entered playoffs as two of the top teams in the region. However, several late season losses saw both fall to low seeds in the playoffs. With a chance at retribution both stood a good chance to make runs deep into the playoffs—providing they could topple the other.
The pick and ban phase of Game 1 held the first crucial mistake, when Gambit chose to play the middle lane champion, Kassadin, against ROCCAT’s Lulu. Kassadin recently was met with several fixes by Riot to counteract his incredibly high damage output. That has made him a hit-or-miss selection at the pro level. Lulu’s flexibility and on-demand spell buffs have been on the rise lately, and she’s never been more powerful.
The game started out fairly even, with ROCCAT holding a slight lead until they decided to take a greedy early Baron. The Baron offers up a lot of gold and a powerful buff to any team that can take him down, but leaves the team very vulnerable during the actual fight. And so while ROCCAT chipped away at his health, Gambit set up a brilliant trap that saw several ROCCAT players fall.
The key to the play was the use of the Teleport spell by Gambit’s top laner, Evgeny "Darien" Mazaev. The spell allowed him to quickly travel across the map to reinforce his teammates, and his sudden appearance proved enough to throw ROCCAT off their game. Gambit entered the mid-game with confidence and a nice gold lead.
However, that lead quickly fell apart when ROCCAT used their superior team composition (heavily featuring Lulu) to win team fights here and there. By the time Baron had respawned, ROCCAT were firmly in control of the game and took the beast down to further their lead. Gambit’s nexus fell, ending the game early for a team that entered as champions.
With victory in sight, ROCCAT entered the second game looking for any lead they could get their hands on. Gambit managed to secure Lulu in the pick phase, but also chose Irelia, a fairly weak top-laner that would have a lot of trouble dealing with ROCCAT’s top lane Jax. ROCCAT’s top laner, Marcin "Xaxus" Maczka, is one of the best in the region and giving him a slight edge in lane was a huge mistake on Gambit’s part.
Gambit again opened with a great play, this time securing first blood by surprising Maczka with a lethal gank.
Would it be enough to disrupt ROCCAT’s mental state?
The answer was soon apparent. ROCCAT’s support player, Oskar "VandeR" Bogdan, stood in wait deep in enemy territory. He was a visible target for Gambit, and they soon swarmed to take him out. Bogdan, however, proved to be bait for one of the most deadly traps seen in the LCS. ROCCAT players appeared out of nowhere, overwhelming Gambit and taking the team almost entirely down.
Even more, it seemed like Gambit’s own play was used against them. Maczka used Teleport exactly like Gambit had in the first game to surprise his enemies. It was a slaughter.
With Maczka now free to power up, ROCCAT quickly took control of the game and devastated Gambit at every opportunity. With no recourse, Gambit fell 0-2 to ROCCAT, and are now headed to a possible relegation match where they risk their future in the LCS.
ROCCAT, on the other hand, advance to the semifinals, where they face off against SK Gaming, a team that started the LCS season slowly before a dominating late-season performance that saw them leap to the top of the table.
The matches begin tomorrow at 11:00 EDT.
Image via Riot Games