A Grand Final of the highest calibre
Coming into the finals, both Gambit and Envy had every reason to play with the utmost confidence. While the North Americans bested both their regional competitors, Masters 2 - Reykjavík champions Sentinels and 100 Thieves, Gambit could draw from a stellar performance against G2 Esports in the semi-finals: after a close 13-10 win on the latest map addition Breeze, the EMEA champions demolished G2 13-0 on Icebox.
Although Gambit cut down the best-of-five to a three-map series, the matches were thrilling to behold as both teams met on eye level. On the first two maps, Bind and Haven, the EMEA team found themselves at a disadvantage in the first half. However, after switching sides they kept beginning their comeback by taking four rounds in a row both times. On Bind, Timofey 'Chronicle' Khromov pulled out a breathtaking performance on Sova, especially on the defenders' side. Gambit were able to beat their opponent in a 15-13 overtime thriller.
After that, they had to deal with an on-fire Jaccob 'yay' Whiteaker on Haven. As if that wasn't difficult enough, Jimmy 'Marved' Nguyen had the time of his life on the second map. But once again, Redgar and his teammates pulled off a comeback as they always seem to do. Chronicle delivered another note-worthy performance, dominating Envy on Brimstone. Gambit took this map 13-11, going up 2-0 in the series.
Gambit ramps up again
The match-point map Split was Gambit's pick. However, if anyone expected Envy to give up at this point, they were to be disappointed: the two teams traded a few rounds before switching sides. Just like on map one and two, this prompted Gambit once more to shift up a gear and edge out a clear advantage. It was again Chronicle - this time playing Viper - who led the scoreboard in the second half, scoring 17 frags on the defenders' side alone, which was more than double the amount of Envy's frag leader. Gambit eventually closed out the series with a 13-9 victory and deservedly claimed their Masters Berlin trophy.
Although Chronicle played a key role in Gambit's success, the entire team worked as a unit and every player was capable of impacting the game: Redgar, Ayaz 'nAts' Akhmetshin, Bogdan 'sheydos' Naumov, Nikita 'd3ffo' Sudakov and Chronicle each had moments when they carried their team.
Gambit win, Fnatic qualify
Not only did Gambit keep the trophy in EMEA this time, but thanks to their victory at Masters Berlin, they gained a fourth slot for EMEA at VCT Champions. Due to their direct qualification, Fnatic have taken the slot that Gambit would have occupied with their points. This is a pleasant surprise for many fans of the Masters 2 finalists, who didn't manage to qualify for the EMEA Challengers Finals in Stage 3. Team captain Jake 'Boaster' Howlett showed his joy on Twitter, thanking the Russians.
The third team representing EMEA at Champions will be Acend who finished the EMEA Circuit in first place ahead of Fnatic. The fourth and last team from this region will be determined in mid-October: the seven teams with the most circuit points plus the champion of Strike Arabia will meet in the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) for EMEA's final spot at the 16-team super event.
All results from the EMEA Challengers Playoffs Stage 3
What will be on the line?
|Placement||Team||Prize money||Circuit Points|
|1st||Gambit Esports||$225,000||Qualified for Champions|
|9th-12th||Papara SuperMassive Blaze||$10,000||225|
Which teams have already qualified for Champions?
|TBC (LCQ)||NA||KRÜ Esports||LATAM|
|Team Vikings||BR||Vivo Keyd||BR|
|TBD (LCQ)||SA||Vision Strikers||KR|
|Crazy Raccoon||JP||X10 Esports||SEA|
|Team Secret||SEA||TBC (LCQ)||APAC|
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Photo credit: Riot Games