How Gambit Got their Groove Back and What it Means for Season 3

IEM Katowice completed over the weekend and was truly one of the best tournaments in awhile. Close finishes, upsets, and general drama built with each passing day concluding with Gambit Gaming rising from the ashes of an 0-2 group start to take the crown. It was their first tournament win since the EU Regionals and comes just as the whispers of them perhaps being washed up were starting to permeate certain circles of the scene. They showed us that the reports of their death had been greatly exaggerated with their steamrolling of both Korean teams on the final day.

Check out the results and find the VoD's here. Let's take a look at why you can't ever count out a team with that kind of championship pedigree, and what their win means for Season 3 that begins in just a few short weeks.

Will of the Champion

You see it throughout sports multiple sports - winning is contagious. Teams that are able to keep the same roster, or core of players are able to build off their experiences and trust in each other more because they've been to the top with those same guys before. The trust in each other to win is able to be absolute because they've been there done that. We all saw it over the weekend when Gambit Gaming started out Day 1 of IEM Katowice with two losses and on the brink of elimination. They rebounded to beat MeetYourMakers giving themselves a shot at advancing, and because of the wonky IEM rules, Gambit advanced based on the fact of the least time spent in games.

While Gambit struggled to get out of their group, both Azubu teams breezed through the fields undefeated and seemed destined to meet in the finals. However, it simply wasn't to be as Blaze and Frost fell to Gambit in back to back best-of-3's that weren't particularly close. Gambit went back to their roots and was the old aggressive team that teams were insanely lucky to simply take a game off during their storied Season 2 run. Season 3 begins soon, and they certainly won't be the last team to regain their former glory at least once this year.

We've already seen Fnatic make a resurgence of late, and they played well at Katowice before falling in a close series to Azubu Frost that went all 3 games. A team with their pedigree of winning will certainly be heard from perhaps more than once in the coming season. TSM, for all their troubles, are another prime candidate for a return to their winning form. The same whispers that surrounded Gambit of late have been getting louder in regards to TSM. They can't win anymore, they are washed up, they only won because it was only NA teams. It may not happen for all these teams in Season 3, but there is a reason the same few teams always seem to contend in tournaments. Winning becomes a habit, and being able to overcome losses and bring out your team's strengths in the face of adversity is a quality that many teams are never able to learn.

In basketball, time after time young teams will make it to the playoffs only to see themselves outlasted in a series by a team of veterans. They have to learn how to win, and that will be the challenge for many of the new teams from around the world this year. The talent gap in League of Legends, particularly at the top is shrinking every day and teams will have to focus more than ever on how they play as a team, new innovation and strategies, and the mental side of the game if they want to get an edge over their opponents.

Is there a such thing as a good loss?

Most people and teams would probably tell you that they would have always rather won than lost, but that isn't always true. The Koreans have been hearing for months how far ahead their scene is and how great they are (much of it well deserved). They had been destroying the fields regularly when they attended tournaments, and when they lost it was to other teams from Asia. The best thing that could have happened to Korea before Season 3 was to see two of their best and most successful teams get humbled on a big stage. If any scene will take a loss seriously and look to make it a learning experience, it will be their scene.

It's hard not to let overconfidence and even a little complacency creep in when you have been consistently beating similar opponents. Not only that, every single interview they have been doing with other regions they have been asked about how good they are, how much better they practice than everyone else, and why the rest of the world seems to be falling behind them. Then they have to read comments from other teams that say they aspire to be like them, and even if they are the most humble people in the world it can be hard not to let that get in your head just a little bit.

Maybe this didn't play a huge factor at Katowice and Gambit just simply ascended to another level on that particular day. Whether it was the case or not, I would be surprised if the Koreans didn't practice again with a renewed sense of urgency for Season 3 and start doing their homework a little harder on the top teams from Europe especially.

We also learned that the gap between the scenes isn't as big as previously thought. Fnatic did bring Azubu Frost to a third game in their set, and has looked great in general of late. Korea might certainly have the world on depth of teams, but even that has to be questioned now. Season 3 will show us just how every region matches up with each other and with themselves and will certainly be appointment viewing every single week.

What do you think RoG'ers? What did you think of the results at Katowice? Which team(s) will we hear from again in Season 3? How far apart do you think the scenes are right now? Let us know in the comment section and be sure to stay tuned to ReignOfGaming for all your LoL-related needs!

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  • #31 imwithn00b

    I'm glad Gambit Gaming is back. As a huge fan I was kinda tired of their losses

    Fnatic will be very strong, I think even stronger than Fries (CLGeu)

    Korean teams will be dominant but they'll have a hard time with EU

    As for the rest of Asia, I don't know them pretty well but I can say they are terrifying

    Sucks to be on NA

  • #29 Edge363

    I started watching som pro games right at the season 2 champion ships. I dont have any favorites but id have to say thhat NA looks terrible compared to EVERY other team. Azuba, taipei, and fnatic seem like the best teams to me. while the worst are curse, and sk gaming. I dont know why people like curse:p There annoying, nobody likes them. jkjkjk. but seriously, they need to step up there game. 


  • #26 DonYagamoth

    @RoakOriginal: I agree on the SK note. I was honestly surprised how well they played, even if they lost. They have seriously stepped up their game. I hope to see more of them in the future.

    For Fnatic - my feeling towards these games was, that they were almost (not fully) exclusively being carried by xPeke. In my eyes, his specialty is shutting down opposing mids (hence why they give a ton of trouble to M5/Gambit whenever they meet). Cyanide and the AD Carry + Support seemed to fall behind pretty regularly. If those stepped up their game, they could be at the very top.

    For Gambit - I've always wondered, why people play so extremely passive against the Asian teams. I mean, if you play passive, you get forced to play their game, at which they are very good at. They take advantage of the opposing team not making moves of their own. And that's exactly what Gambit used against them - if you play even more aggressive than the asians, they fall out of their role and don't have huge experience to crawl back.

    Btw... If someone noticed - all the current top teams have an extremely strong mid, which does not only dictate their lane, but the whole team. Look at Curse NA or TSM, their mid is very potent in Reginald and Nyjacky, but only for their own lane. Their strength doesn't translate into the team as a whole. Alex Ich or xPeke seem to have a lot more control, since whenever they move, the team moves as well.

  • #28 Nagasis

    Maknoon. Score


    End of story. Or it could be  NJW SWD and KT Rolster B are very strong overall and this players are just better than their teammates.

    KT Rolster B need Score to be more aggressive, or stop basing their game on him, or they'll never beat the likes of the Azubu


  • #32 Ryvena

    Very interesting point. Yes Mid is a very very important role. You are an assassin, you protect your jungle, you invade with your jungle, you help with dragon if you win lane, you can gank bottom. Every judgement call mid does has a detrimental effect on the strength of the team. It's simple really, this is the same reason why mid wards, mid tower, and choke points (mid points, and tribushes) are so important.

    If you lose mid control you lose the game.

  • #24 cottonycloud

    I'm expecting some sort of surprise from the NA teams, similar to the Season 1 and 2 championships where Fnatic unexpectedly won, and random teams (Asian teams weren't really advertised prior to MLG Summer).

  • #22 Ryvena

    "However, it simply wasn't to be as Blaze and Frost fell to Gambit in back to back best-of-3's that weren't particularly close."

    I'd say all 4 games were pretty close, if Gambit messed up at any point, it was either a superior farm or...
    A superior late game (kog and vayne) that woulda won.

  • #21 RoakOriginal

    Gambit and Fnatic were playin awesome, but what most surprised me was SK gaming... they lost to Fnatic ofc, but they were showin very nice game... Simply unexpectedly great play from them, and if they didnt met fnatic, they would get farther in tourney... i know there are many haters to ocelote and other comercial things related to SKgaming, but noone can say that they played bad (like most people use to do during last few tournaments)... It was nice play from them and i think (despite i am fan of old M5 and CLG.EU) SK has potencial they can show us...

    And asian teams will be great opponents for all of those awesome europe teams... (they have to try hard, to be best this session)...

    And maybe even some of NA players will finally elarn how to play and we will see good show (not expecting this from tsm... they have heads higher then most of asians, but asians have reason to, while tsm games in S2 were all trash, and am not expecting anything better from them in this session), but there are few teams, that can surprise us, if they try... (still probably no chance vs asia/europe, but i believe in good play...:))

  • #18 Bairis

    Was certain that Gambit would win this tourney, although in the beggining they did look slackey, they pulled themselves up when it mattered and showed why every team feared M5 in season 2

  • #17 Shinkada

    The whole reason M5 exploded onto the scene was their group roaming. They used a mix of wards and general game sense to turn into a giant free-roaming murder machine that blew up anyone they came across. Laners would just split off with the jungler at random moments to steal camps or nuke people. The reason they stopped winning, at least as dramatically, is because they stopped doing that. They calmed down and played smarter at which point they did occasionally just get out played.

    When Gambit are at their best, they simply can't lose to the current meta. Group roaming destroys the current meta because - as they demonstrated - you can dive as early as Lv3. Turrets don't mean shit with 3 peoples' burst while a Taric tanks the tower.

    Honestly I think if anyone wants to beat at-their-best Gambit, they're going to need to do some seriously crazy crap. Like, have 1v2 lanes top and bot and send a Taric or Leona invading with the jungler to just murder the jungler then dive laners. Or maybe Teemo mid with capped CDR and at least three teleports, so you can ward everywhere at once and catch out anyone who tries to oracle the shrooms.

  • #16 Grimezs

    Also you Americans sell out your teams far too easily and are too dependent on new teams. (MRN WILL BE THE NEXT BIG THING! CURSE ARE THE BEST NA TEAM! I <3 TEAM FEAR) Believe in CLG and TSM, they have the ability and talent to be an international force to be reckoned with.

    You wanna know why the EU scene has been strong for so long? Fans never gave up. We never stopped believing in CLG.EU, Moscow 5, Fnatic or even SK Gaming. We knew that these teams can beat anyone in the world and we are proud of it. Americans just seem to latch onto the Asian teams when the going gets tough. Believe in your scene, believe in your meta and believe in yourself.

    Last edited by Grimezs: 1/22/2013 3:06:42 PM
  • #23 cottonycloud

    To be honest, Curse and Fear aren't new to the scene. Fear was there since season 2, composed of various high elo players with pasts on pro teams. Curse was there before season 1. MRN is the only true newcomer to the Season 3.

    As for TSM, I never really was a fan of them because of how overblown the fans were, as well as Regi's Karthus (I just really find Karthus a boring champion except that one time where he ulted out of random, when it was a planned gank on top lane) and Dyrus. Despite what people say, I like CLG's split-push strategy. 

    It's got nothing to do with your fanboyish hope, but rather the coordination and strategy the EU teams usually have. Rather, people are more realistic, and realize that when NA teams had only 1 or 2 wins during the S2 championships, it was not because of hope.

  • #30 Grimezs

    But the improvement must come from the fans as much as it comes from the players.


  • #15 Grimezs

    I've been saying for months, since Season 2 world championships, that Asia is not stronger than Europe. Name me a top Asian team and I gurantee Fnatic, Moscow 5/GBG or Fries.EU/CLG.EU will have beat them.

    Azubu Blaze? They've never beat Moscow 5 in a best of 3. Did you all forget the Azubu Blaze vs Moscow 5 result at IPL5? Fnatic took them out of group stages at IPL5.

    Azubu Frost? CLG.EU faced them in OGN finals bo5 and it was a close fucking game. Again, Moscow 5. And Fnatic took a map at IEM Katowice (only one but Fnatic have just had a rosta change and were holding back cause of the most important tournament ever for them).

    Taipei Assasins? Moscow 5 took them for a round at the world championships, the opening round. Fnatic have never lost a map to TPA (and I suspect are the reason behind the rosta change).

    World Elite? Season 2 World Championships CLG.EU triumphed over them. Fnatic have taken 2 maps off them in total (granted lost 6 but the ability to win games is there, if not the consistency), the only 2 fucking maps they lost at IPL5 furthermore.

    SK Telecom T1? Fnatic have a 50% win ratio on LAN with them. SK T1 wins were just where it counted.

    Last edited by Grimezs: 1/22/2013 3:07:36 PM
  • #14 Jielhar

    I don't think past success has that much of an impact in teams being able to rise from being one of the pack to the very top; sometimes new teams break out and win, sometimes older teams do, is all.

    In particular, I highly doubt Gambit Gaming's recent success heralds the resurgence TSM; I see no relation between the two events and I believe TSM's best days have already gone by.

  • #13 Jamial

    It's only NA that's behind. EU is upthere with the Koreans np.

  • #12 XtoRms

    GG win because,they for the first game versus AzB,they bann the favorites champions for the koreans teams(Caitlyn,Miss Fortune and Olaf)letting genja own the lane with his new favorite champion(ezreal)and darien with his epic renek and diamond with his awesome xin zhao,let to see than xin zhao is too much better with the rework and is very viable,in this aspect the Azubus fail with his bans(and in 1 game they dont ban eve,let remember than alex do Evelyn famous)and alex Ryze was amazing too,a master in mid with his best and favorite champion.

    A great tournament in summary.

  • #25 Waaargh

    I have to add to this that Genja used a very different playing style. He has been the passive farmer, where GoSu has been very agressive, and Alex Ich did a lot of the work mid game. Then at the lategame M5 had a fed ADC. This has changed, so Genja now plays much more aggressive midgame., and it worked nicely against the Azubu teams who uses their ADC in a similar way.

  • #10 raikaria

    There are three regions on the world stage, Europe, SEA [Teams like Taipei, WE] and Korea.


    Na dosen't compare, really. Even the team regarded as the best in NA [Although if that is true over teams like FEAR now is questionable at best], TSM, cannot even take a game from Korea teams, nor Europe's best [M5]. Koreans, SEA and Europe slug it out, with NA being far, far behind.


    SEA, EU and KR are also all innovators. Invades? M5. Kayle's surge? KR. 2v1 lanes? KR.  Not sure what SEA has done to contribute to the meta, but I'm pretty sure it's more than what NA does. NA just copies, and falls behind as such.

    Last edited by raikaria: 1/22/2013 1:51:18 PM
  • #8 supportking

    i just vant to zee curze vin

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