Gambit’s Redgar talks Icebox and the price of intense training for Champions
Gambit’s IGL shows another side to Gambit’s nearly limitless confidence and reminds us that pro players are human and only triumph when faced with adversity.
It's easy to see a lot of teams coming into Valorant Champions with swagger. It can't be helped; these are the best of the best. These are teams that have worked, trained, and scrimmed all year in order to win the ultimate prize: the 2021 Valorant Championship.
One of the teams who exudes such confidence is Gambit. After a brilliant performance at Masters, many expected Gambit to be just as dangerous in Champions. Yet that has been far from the case, as Igor "Redgar" Vlasov explained post-match against the Brazilian Team Vikings.
Recovering on Icebox
When the press asked about Icebox, Redgar admitted that while they prepared for the map, it didn't go as well as he hoped.
"We couldn't like control them from our attack side. I don't know why--maybe pressure or something like that. And we had a very rough start," he explained. "And on the defending side, it was like, 'Okay, guys. It's our good side. We know how to counter them if we catch them. If we win two or three rounds, they will be disappointed. And we can punish them for that mistake. We did it."
A level head was key here. It would be expected to see a strong team lose their cool against someone who is considered an underdog. But Redgar made sure that didn't happen.
"When we started to lose, I wasn't nervous, because I know the things that I should do and all the things I have planned," he confirmed. "And when my plan is not working, I'm not screaming or crying. I was just trying to find out another way my team could help me. So we found solutions to earn free rounds on the attack side. And we know we are much better on the defense. And we said, 'Okay, guys, we can do it. We should show everyone that we are the champions. And we can come back from those kinds of situations. And we did."
That kind of resilience was not unnoticed, as Gambit clawed their way nine rounds in a row to take the map and qualify for the quarterfinals. The game was exciting and went into overtime despite Team Vikings having the upper hand. And this was why the victory was bittersweet, according to Redgar.
"It's awesome and bad at the same time," Redgar explained. "It's bad because we allowed them to get to that score. We made things harder because we knew it didn't have to be that way. If we had done it much better, we wouldn't have gone into overtime. It feels great that we came back to show we have the Champions spirit in that we can come back from that kind of situation. We showed that we could do it."
Beyond Icebox, Redgar was asked about another infamous map: Fracture. Making its debut in Champions, it's had a rather divisive response from both pros and the community. But Redgar had a more measured opinion on it.
"I think that Fracture is a really interesting map because the strategies that you normally use on that map don't always work," Redgar said. "Unlike other maps, for example, you can't hold and wait for them while they will come to you. You should do different strategies on Fracture that you wouldn't do on Bind or Ascent because it wouldn't work. Fracture is really insane for the mind games, for new strategies, and for new comps."
Showing Respect to the Competition
It would have been easy to underestimate Team Vikings, despite them giving strong showings so far in the tournament. And Gambit was not one of those teams; their past experience with them made them realize they were not to be trifled with.
"We know that they're really strong. We played them in scrims before we knew what our groups were going to be. So we know that they're really strong. They played really good. They punished us for our mistakes on Bind and on Icebox too. We know their playstyle and we tried to counter that. It was successful as we adapted a little bit and found the key to counter them."
Another thing that didn't go unnoticed was Gambit's visible fallibility. At Masters Berlin, the only teams that were able to take a map from them were Vision Strikers and 100Thieves. However, already three days into the tournament, they have already given up two. The difference was apparent, and when someone asked why, Redgar gave a very simple response.
"First of all, we're playing against really strong teams because they're the best of the best of their regions," Redgar elaborated. "That's why it's harder than it was in Masters Berlin. The second reason is, I guess we're a little bit tired because we're training a lot from the start of this year. And we train 10 or 12 hours per day. So you're exhausted. So it can be hard to say it puts pressure on you because we're tight a little bit."
However, this does not mean they are ready to quit. In fact, that's far from the case.
"I'm trying to say we have a lot of things that we're testing during the year. We have a lot of switches as well, and maybe that's what shows that we're playing not as well. But during the tournament, we're watching our mistakes. We're trying to fix it and raise up our level till the next matches."
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