The game’s two hottest teams right now were always destined to face off in the grand final of the thirteenth season of ESL Pro League, however, the series will go down in the history books on the back of one life-changing clutch from one remarkable player…
Setting the scene
No sides have embraced the volatility of the online CS:GO era and been bigger success stories than Heroic and Gambit. With both sides ranked 18th and 32nd in the world respectively at the time of the last offline events, they have both transformed the competitive meta with their distinct styles and approach to the game, dominating the majority of the S-Tier events they have competed in.
Both Gambit and Heroic had established themselves as the two sides to beat in ESL Pro League Season 13’s group stage, topping their respective groups and standing as the only teams in the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record.
They both then won passage to the semi-finals with flawless 2-0 wins over the two other group winners, Astralis and Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP). Two more perfect 2-0 sweeps against Furia and NiP followed, setting up a grand final for the lion’s share of a $750,000 prize pool, and in the eyes of many, the title of the best side in the world.
Having only dropped three maps throughout their seven series run to the final, Heroic were slight favorites with the bookies heading into the match. On the other hand, Gambit have established over the past year or so that they are a side that will bleed every last round out of a match-up before conceding defeat.
In an enthralling see-saw affair, Heroic won their first pick on Inferno in overtime with a 19-17 score, Gambit equalized on Vertigo with a 16-3 blowout, Heroic snuck another grueling overtime with a 28-26 win on Train before they were equalized on again by their CIS opponents on Overpass by a convincing 16-10 scoreline, sending the seven-hour series all the distance to Mirage.
As well as leading the side as the IGL and main AWPer, Casper “cadiaN” Møller’s fragging haul had been something to behold throughout Heroic’s eventual grand final triumph. After a slow start on Inferno with a 20-24 record, he bagged the most kills for his side on Vertigo and Train, where he finished with figures of 48 frags, 84.3 ADR (average damage per round), 34 deaths, and a 1.30 rating. He was then Heroic’s second-highest fragger on both Overpass (19) and Mirage (20), where his once-in-a-lifetime play would come about.
“You can’t win Pro League like this!”
The score is 15-6 and Heroic have been put on an eco round. Cadian has a P250 and his plan for the round is to make noise on Mid, and hope his team can land out of Palace to secure a plant and enough money to buy into an AWP in the next round. Gambit deal with Heroic’s pistols with ease, however, and CadiaN is left in an unwinnable 1v4.
‘Temparh’ in Twitch chat jokes: ‘CLUTCH OR KICK’.
Dmitry ‘sh1ro’ Sokolov, Gambit’s top-performing player with 122 kills and 83 deaths over the series, is scoped on Stairs and CadiaN makes the daring decision to creep behind and get the knife kill to secure some extra funds. The kill is messy, alerting Gambit to his position, but he grabs the AWP and gets away from danger by jumping down.
Commenting on the game, Alex “Machine” Richardson claims that he’s “starting to get nervous”, and the atmosphere of the round begins to morph. A quick scope by the Dane takes down Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov, turning the situation suddenly into a 1v2 and prompting Machine’s soon-to-be iconic line: “cadiaN, you can’t win Pro League like this!”.
By now cadiaN is down to just two points of health, any graze of a bullet will end the round and end any chance of seeing the clutch of a lifetime happen. Machine screeches the same line again as the Dane continues with the unthinkable, wallbanging Timofey ‘interz’ Yakushin on the bombsite before turning his attention to Sergey “Ax1Le” Rykhtorov on A Ramp.
“Take your time, son, you’re about to make the play of your career” Machine remarks as the whole esports world takes in a breath.
Ax1Le tucks into Tetris, prompting cadiaN into an aggressive jump off stairs where he gets all the information he needs. He scopes up against the Russian rifler and, with a lightning-fast flick over the top of the block, caps off the most odds-defying, jaw-dropping spectacle any esports fan could hope to witness.
CS:GO is a game littered with legends who have carved out their legacies on the back of moments just like this. With his match-winning clutch, cadiaN has ensured he has a place in the history books forever, with so many demanding the moment be commemorated forever with a graffiti on the A bombsite of Mirage. Regardless of whether Valve listens to the community or not, no one will ever forget where they were when cadiaN pulled off his once-in-a-lifetime moment.