Heroic Beat Gambit to Complete Undefeated ESL Pro League
ESL Pro League Season 13 has come to a close. The Grand Finals between Heroic and Gambit Esports was a five-map marathon featuring multiple overtimes. In the end, Heroic came out on top after narrowly winning their own map picks before demolishing Gambit on the decider. This win mark’s the organization’s first trophy in six months.
A Perfect Start
Heroic’s journey at ESL Pro League Season 13 began in Group A. No one knew exactly what form they would be in after having recently replacing two players in a very sudden roster mix-up. As it turned out, Heroic looked great. They went undefeated in their group and earned a spot in the play-in matches for a semifinal bye.
The Danes wouldn’t let the opportunity go to waste as they convincingly took down Ninjas in Pyjamas in two maps. Heroic now awaited the winners of FURIA Esports vs Astralis in the quarterfinals. Surprisingly, it was FURIA who took a clean upset over their opponents, denying the Danish derby. Heroic would then end the Brazilian’s hopes after another 2-0 victory. On the other side of the bracket, Gambit also swept the Ninjas to book their ticket to the Grand Finals.
Avoiding Disaster on Inferno
Map one was Inferno. Despite it being Heroic’s first choice of map, it was Gambit who got off to a hot start. Every member of the CIS squad was running at full speed, especially Abay “Hobbit” Khasenov and Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov who combined for a 35-11 K-D ratio in the first half alone. After their CT campaign, Gambit held an 11-4 lead.
Gambit even took the second pistol round to put themselves in prime position to close out map one. Instead, Heroic forced up and turned the momentum around using some aggression at the top of Banana.
Heroic was able to stabilize off of that and win nine of the next 10 rounds in a row. At 13 rounds apiece, both squads fought back and forth to take the victory. Overtime was required to separate them. After six close rounds, it was Heroic who barely pulled back a 19-17 win on their map.
Even with a 1-0 lead in the series, it didn’t feel like Heroic was truly ahead. This would be confirmed on map two of Vertigo. Gambit utterly destroyed their opposition in what was the most one-sided map of finals. A 12-3 T side led to a short and flawless defense for Gambit. All of the sudden, the series was tied after the 16-3 stomp.
A Marathon on Train
Heroic’s next map pick was Train. Déjà vu was striking the players and audience alike when Gambit sprinted out of the gates on the CT side. Gambit’s sheer multifragging abilities continued to shine through as Heroic struggled to find consistent ways into bomb sites. Only five bombs were planted by Heroic through the first 13 rounds. However, the Danish side did put things together by the end of the half. They crucially increased their round count to five thanks to a triple kill out of Rasmus “sjuush” Beck.
Just like how they clawed back on Inferno, Heroic were once again trying to secure their own map from a deficit. It wasn’t smooth sailing by any stretch, but the Danes were doing very well in retake scenarios. Gambit managed to plant the bomb in 10 rounds, but Heroic took five of those back by force. Slowly, the rounds crept close to even until another overtime was on the cards.
This time, this conflict would not be solved with just one extra period. Both teams fought tooth and nail for every single round knowing that winning would put them on championship point. Heroic’s tenacity paid off yet again as they were able to take a 28-26 win after four OTs. Casper “cadiaN” Møller’s AWP was integral to their success, racking up 38 kills with the big green.
Gambit Keep Composed
With their backs to the wall, Gambit now needed to take Overpass to keep the series going. After losing two maps by a single round in overtime fashion, frustration could easily be building up. They could have had won the tournament 3-0 by now if things had gone slightly different after all. Instead of letting it get to them, the IEM Katowice champions bunkered down on map four.
A 3-0 start for Heroic on defense was responded to in kind once Gambit had their weapons. The next eight rounds all featured bomb plants by the CIS squad, allowing them to rack up the rounds. By the end of the half, Gambit had earned a narrow 8-7 lead on the less favored side.
Heroic once again had a good start to the half on their T side. They broke their opponents with a second-round force buy and brought themselves to a 10-9 lead. From that point on, however, everything came up Gambit. Seven straight rounds which featured clutches and acrobatics were won by Gambit. A quick 16-10 close-out was the result. We were now tied at two maps apiece going into the final map of ESL Pro League Season 13.
Dominant on Mirage
It all came down to Mirage. Although the score was tied at two apiece, there was still a feeling of inequality. All of Gambit’s wins were clean and convincing which Heroic’s were rough and down to the wire. It was only natural that Gambit was being looked at as the favorites going into the final map. Heroic would flip that narrative quickly.
The first five rounds were very back and forth. Although Heroic started out 2-0, Gambit had bomb plants in every round and continued to force buy. After a round five retake, Gambit had to cede the economy war. Surely, they would be competitive again once they had a full buy.
Instead, Heroic kept on winning and winning. Gambit’s T side strategies were not finding their mark as Heroic shut them down every time. Although Gambit had five plants in the first five rounds, they only managed to get one in the next 10. Heroic’s CT side ended with an 11 round win streak to take a crushing 13-2 lead.
Gambit did get a small win streak going on their CT side with hopes of making a comeback. Those hopes were shortly dashed by cadiaN as he pulled off one of, if not the craziest ending to a tournament in Counter-Strike history.
Heroic is now back on top of the CS:GO world after quite a bit of time spent absent. Their immediate roster changes after the failure that was their IEM Katowice campaign were certainly scrutinized by some. When asked about it at the time, cadiaN said “We have had a successful run with the last roster but we feel that we can come even further with these changes to the team.” The fact that Heroic win ESL Pro League not even two months after shows that they know how to find success.