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After three maps, with the final going into quintuple overtime, Gambit Esports stood up and cheered in triumph as they won their VALORANT Champions semifinal series over KRÜ Esports. The Latin American side sunk in their chairs as the loss came over them. As the two teams came to the center of the stage to bump fists and move on to their media obligations and green rooms, the two teams opted for hugs to commemorate the end of an emotional series.
“It was mutual show affection and of respect that both teams gave it all throughout this series and throughout the tournament… and that the match could have gone to either one of them,” KRÜ Esports coach Rodrigo “Onur” Dalmagro said in a post-game press conference.
The two squads played a combined 34 rounds in the final map on Bind. KRÜ Esports’ Nicolas “Klaus” Ferrari said that he was nervous the entire time and he let his emotions get the best of him, while Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov from Gambit said he was locked into the game, only focusing on what was right in front of him. The one thing both teams agreed on was that the series was the best VALORANT they had ever played.
As the two squads came together to embrace, red faces and tears dotted the Latin American squad. While they were fighting to move on to the grand final of VALORANT Champions, fans in their home region, many abroad and online were cheering for them to take yet another upset win.
📢MAÑANA LA SEMIFINAL SE VIVE ACÁ🔥🔥🔥
Vení a @ArGameShow Y ALENTEMOS TODOS JUNTOS AL EQUIPO DE LATAM
📍Centro Costa Salguero pic.twitter.com/VazVXNwPB1
— KRÜ Esports 🤟🇩🇪 (@KRUesports) December 11, 2021
“For me, I guess it was like a more emotional and personal game,” Gambit in-game leader Igor “Redgar” Vlasov said in the post-match press conference. “I really like this team. So for me, it was hard to beat them.”
After the tall Russians hugged the mainly Chilean squad, Gambit continued their celebration, but Redgar hung back for a second and exchanged some words with the KRÜ players.
“They just told us ‘go win for us’ so that’s what I told them, ‘yeah, we’ll do our best and win for them,'” Redgar said.
For Onur, this series was the end of a long journey. While he wanted to scream and shout at the players during overtime, to give them one last strategy that could win them a round and end the overtime in their favor, he had to sit back and watch as the team he has coached since December lost against the VALORNT Champions Tour Stage 3 Masters Berlin champions.
“I am a coach that really tries to pressure the guys into being the best they can be. They always reacted the best and I’m real proud of everything they’ve achieved and how they have grown as individuals from only being rookies that doubted becoming professional VALORANT players to now being some of the world’s best players,” Onur said.
KRÜ Esports will end their VALORANT Champions journey in the top four, the highest they have ever placed internationally. The team has been a perennial player on the international stage, with relatively the same squad throughout. While no one expected them to make it this far, and mow through some of the favorites at the event, fans shouldn’t be surprised at their performance in the semifinals. How many times does a team have to be an underdog before they become the favorites?
But, the team is now forced to look toward 2022, and according to Angelo “keznit” Mori, fans should continue to raise their expectations for the Latin American squad.
“I am not feeling down,” Kezit said when asked how he felt after the series against Gambit. “I’m more really proud of what me and the team have achieved throughout this tournament and throughout the year. And that probably next year, we will be the champions.”
Declan is an esports journalist and part-time editor for Upcomer. He is an avid gamer and League of Legends player. You can find him at the bottom of the leaderboard in most games or on Twitter.