Why Esports is so appealing that millions of people have kept an eye on it several years in a row? No doubt that it is not only about observing top level of play, but has a lot to do with pro players’ storylines. Uzi, who has twice participated in the Worlds finals but though has never become the champion, invincible Faker, Bjergsen, who was mocked at school but turned out to be one of the most popular gamers in the world. But when it comes to fans from CIS countries the most touching story is all about the story of Moscow Five, five Russian boys whose red star exploded in the universe of League of Legends, having left no one aloof. It has been long time since then, Genja and Darien quitted, Alex Ich found his new home in California, Edward in Vega Squadron, and only Diamond is still with Gambit.
It all began in 2011, when League of Legends was yet to become the most popular Esports in the world. Diamond had already spent 8 years playing Dota, and, just as it happened with many others, his friends invited him to play LoL. According to Danil, it took him some time to actually like League and decide to play it regularly. One day his friend Edward Abgaryan invited him to play some team rankeds with Alex Ich, Genja and Darien, despite the fact that Diamond didn't have a high elo and his jungle champion pool consisted of only two champions. Nevertheless, the team became an illustration of the saying "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts". And it became a turning point in Diamond's life.
Moscow Five with IEM Kiev championship cup
The year of 2012 began with them firing up the international stage. Surprisingly for everyone and even for themselves, they won IEM Kiev. It became possible due to the extraordinary synergy within the team and because of Diamond's counter jungling, and he deservedly got the first Most Valuable Player award in his career. Before him if there was anyone to invade enemy jungle, one just tried to steal their camps, while Diamond wasn't afraid of confronting his opponent and winning the fight. It allowed him to snowball his team to the point where they became unstoppable, and brought them hit-and-run victories even against the strongest teams in the world.
However, Moscow Five had yet to show their success wasn't just a coincidence. And they did by winning IEM Season VI World Championship in Hanover without a single defeat. And again, Diamond contributed a lot to this phenomenal result with his revolutionary approach to the game. At that time junglers prefered to play tanky champions who served as secondary supports going from one lane to another. And then there was Moscow Five, whose teamplay was based on Diamond's and Darien's aggression - he always pushed his lane, creating pressure and attracting enemies' attention to his lane. It let Diamond off the leash making it possible to do almost everything he wanted all over the rest of the map. At IEM Hanover Moscow 5 became fans' favourite once and forever, and IEM became "the territory of Russian Overlords" for a long time, as the squad had consequently surprised everyone with their top-notch performance at IEMs for many years to come. Although lately this tradition has been suppressed, who knows, maybe some time from now Gambit will strike again?
"For some reason IEM tournaments have always motivated me to play as good as I can, and almost all of my best games I have played at IEMs." - Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov.
And that was also the time when a rivalry with CLG.EU arose. They were the only team to trouble M5. With their style being straight opposite to crazy aggression of Russian players they somehow were M5's kryptonite. Victory at IEM Hannover was followed by a bitter defeat in the finals of DreamHack Summer 2012.
"Their teamplay was better than ours, their champions were more useful in teamfights than ours, and we had almost no chances except for what we did. We had a strategy of "taking away" their champions, but they showed that their champion pool was big enough for us to counter it with 3 bans and some picks. That's why we lost." - Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov.
Moscow 5 were undoubtedly the sensation of 2012. No one was surprised with them qualifying for the Season 2 World Championship. Moreover, they were considered both by fans and analysts as heavy favourites to win the tournament. The team got a bye to the quarterfinals, where it faced Invictus Gaming (iG). Despite Chinese early game pressure, Moscow Five secured their spot in the semifinals with a 2-0 score and up to this point no one from CIS region managed to repeat their success. In the semifinals Russian squad had to fight against Taipei Assassins, who were considered a "dark horse". After a confident win in the first match, it seemed like M5 had the final in their pocket, but that dream never came true. TPA reverse swept the series, and later became the team to win S2 Worlds.
M5 won IEM World Championship title without dropping a single game
"Even now, recalling the tournament, I feel so embarrassed. We committed so many mistakes with finals being just a step away, and there were so many external factors that played against us… In some sense I have nothing to lose after the defeat we suffered at that championship." - Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov.
They appeared from nowhere, daring, confident and mysterious; they didn't win Worlds, but they won hearts of fans all over the world. And as there is a proverb saying "Russians never give up", they didn't plan to stop.