FunPlus Phoenix showed what they were capable of over the weekend in a three-map thriller against 2021 Masters Berlin champions and Valorant Champions runner-up, Gambit Esports.

At the VCT EMEA Stage 1 Challengers, FPX upset Gambit in a tight series that saw two maps go to overtime, including a 17-15 quadruple overtime win on Fracture.

The Russian team, widely considered among the best in the world, made FPX toil long and hard for the win. They nearly came back from a 12-3 deficit on Fracture, taking the game to overtime four times before FPX managed to close it out.

In a post-match interview, Andrei “Shao” Kiprskii shared his feelings about the win and how FunPlus Phoenix had prepared to take on Gambit.

FPX take Fracture and Icebox from Gambit in overtime

“I’m super happy and very proud of my team. It was a great comeback on Icebox,” said Shao.

Icebox was the deciding map in the series. The score was initially 12-9 in favor of Gambit at match point, but FPX rallied to win three rounds and send Icebox to overtime.

They then won the next two rounds in overtime to take the series, storming onto A site and eventually forcing Nikita “d3ffo” Sudakov into an unwinnable 1v3 situation.

FPX ran a unique zero duelist composition on Icebox, which paid off on their defensive half. “We had the same composition as Gambit on Icebox, and the only difference was that we had Chamber instead of Jett. This was so we could be more consistent on defense,” explained Shao.

“This helps to cover mid and watch out for lurks. We knew that Chronicle played mid a lot, and Chamber can help cover the area with his traps.” Chamber’s Trademark traps remain active no matter where he is, which is why he finds so much value on large maps like Icebox and Breeze.

Shao was also asked about how the team let Gambit back into the game and gave away a commanding 12-3 lead on Fracture, where FPX won eight straight attacking rounds to end the half 9-3.

“I think we were just too relaxed. On practice, we didn’t win any pistol rounds on Fracture, but we took both pistol rounds against Gambit. So we felt very comfortable and they nearly made the comeback happen,” laughed Shao.

They very nearly invoked the dreaded 9-3 curse when Gambit won nine rounds in a row to make it 12-12. After all, history has shown that you can never ever count Gambit out, after their stunning 5-12 comeback against Team Vikings at Champions 2021.

Former G2 Esports and Team Heretics player Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks was outstanding on Jett, notching 35 kills on Fracture to help his team eventually take the map.

It was a more one-sided affair on the second map, Bind, in favor of Gambit. FPX in-game leader Kyryll “ANGE1” Karasyov picked Breach, an unconventional choice for the Ukrainian player. Shao says the pick was a deliberate counter-play to Gambit, even if it didn’t quite work out.

After their victories over BIG and Gambit, FPX are now 2-0 in their group and are in a good position to make it to the playoffs. They will go up against LDN UTD in their next match on February 26.

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