The news comes just two days before the start of the league, which would have seen Gambit join 13 other teams to battle it out for a share of 250,000 USD in prize money. Additionally, their withdrawal gives up the potential for automatic seeding in future WePlay! Pushka League seasons.
Ukrainian team FlyToMoon has taken their place, a talented young roster of talent who’ve scored numerous wins on the tier-two circuit as of late. This team was reportedly set to compete in the CIS qualifiers for this event, but thanks to Gambit’s withdrawal, have somewhat jumped the queue.
Last month showed that playing from home influences quality of practice and our results. We decided to skip this tournament due to objective obstacles that prevent us from gathering players at boot camp. We'd like to thank WePlay! for an invite and wish luck to all participants https://t.co/0qLPqX60n4— Gambit Esports (@GambitEsports) April 21, 2020
In a tweet detailing their decision, the organisation explained recent performances had led them to rethink attending. The squad had a disappointing run at the ESL One Los Angeles 2020 Online: Europe & CIS event, with Gambit sitting at the bottom of the table for almost all of the group stage, before finding themselves eliminated.
The “quality of practice” and “objective obstacles that prevent us from gathering players at boot camp” are cited as some of the issues that the team faced.
Gambit’s comments raise an important issue. With the shift towards online competition in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous top teams have had a slip in the quality of their performances, with Team Liquid, Alliance, Team Nigma, and Ninjas In Pyjamas all saw a distinct decline in their performance in recent tournaments over previous LAN and online qualifier events.
While some of this can obviously be attributed to higher ping, and the need to use stand-ins to counter that issue, the lack of consistent and in-person practice could also be an issue that these top teams face.
In direct contrast, smaller organisations, and ones not known for centralised training in a team house or facility, such as Chicken Fighters, Viking.gg, and Team Spirit, saw their stock rise at ESL One LA Online as the more storied teams wained.
As Dota 2 shifts into a more online league focused format in the next DPC season, it’s interesting that some of the game’s top teams have begun to struggle.
The difference between playing on LAN and online has always been noted as a deciding factor in some events, with some organisations known as great “scrim” teams, who can’t turn up in person. Online leagues with players spread far and wide have served to further re-highlight how face-to-face practice, team houses, and LAN experience push top teams to even further heights. Without these advantages, some of the games less experienced stacks are able to flourish.
The WePlay! Pushka League starts from May 23rd, broadcast on WePlay!’s official Twitch Channel, with the closed qualifiers currently on-going.