Steven R. August 30, 2019
Making it to the StarLadder Berlin Major playoffs was easy for ENCE.
The Finnish squad became the first team at the event to hit 3-0 in the Legends Stage, handily defeating Avangar, MiBR, and Team Vitality. That sets them up with a spot in the Champions Stage and a guaranteed Legends Stage spot in the next Counter-Strike: Global Offensive major.
ENCE skated through the best-of-ones in the first two days of the Legends Stage, facing little resistance as they started with a 16-5 win over Avangar and a 16-8 win over MiBR. Theoretically, they faced a considerably tougher test in round three as they took on Team Vitality in a best-of-three. In reality, they still didn’t have much more trouble.
The series opened on Nuke with a competitive first half as Vitality was solid on defense en route to an 8-7 score. Vitality fell apart in the second half, however. The inconsistent production of Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut continues to be an issue for Vitality while Cédric "RpK" Guipouy could only muster up two kills on the offensive side. That saw Vitality sputter en route to a 16-10 loss.
Vitality let game one slip away from them in some regards, but ENCE never even gave them a glimmer of hope of winning game two.
Aleksi "allu" Jalli was a force on Nuke, but he turned up the heat even more on Dust 2. In one of the best individual efforts of the event thus far, Allu almost single-handedly shut down Vitality with his AWP. He helped ENCE sprint to an 11-4 first half and didn’t slow down after switching sides.
ENCE finished the series with a 16-7 win, with Allu boasting a gaudy 29-11 K/D by the end.
Is ENCE Esports the favorite to win the StarLadder Berlin Major?
ENCE’s contendership was overlooked a bit heading into the StarLadder Berlin Major. However, with Team Liquid looking quite shaky in the Legends Stage, ENCE might just be the team to beat.
ENCE has been very solid since jumping up to elite status during the IEM Katowice Major, posting strong placements at a number of prominent tournaments. The only trouble is that Liquid has looked like their kryptonite during that time, toppling them in the grand finals of both Intel Extreme Masters XIV Chicago and DreamHack Masters Dallas.
There's also the issue of an upcoming roster change, which ENCE strangely set in stone prior to beginning play at the major. It would certainly put the team in an awkward position if it were to win a major championship after already deciding to bench Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen in favor of new signee Miikka "suNny" Kemppi.
With Liquid and a few other strong challengers looking off-balance in the Legends Stage, ENCE are in a spectacular position for an exceptional performance in the Berlin Major. With their spot in Champions Stage now secure, they have the chance to sit back, study some film, and wait for their next opponent.