Steven R. March 2, 2019
ENCE are headed to the grand finals of the 2019 Katowice Major.
The Finnish underdogs posted another big upset in the Champions Stage with a dramatic win over Natus Vincere. The victory makes them the first team to lock up a spot in the grand finals of the tournament.
The series kicked off on Train and in awkward fashion for Na’Vi. An opening ace for Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev set up early double AWPs for star players Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and Egor "flamie" Vasilyev, but consistent frags from ENCE kept Na’Vi’s economy flimsy until a quadruple kill from Jere "sergej" Salo swung the game fully in the Finns’ favor.
Na’Vi rallied after halftime and closed in on map point, but whenever the team seemed poised to knot things up, someone from ENCE was there to come through in the clutch. Sergej, Sami "xseveN" Laasanen, and Aleksi "allu" Jalli all produced key rounds.
Though S1mple had his moments in the second half, no one else from Na’Vi stepped up and the CIS team took a 16-14 loss.
Things swung hard when the teams moved to Dust 2. Though every member of ENCE made big plays on the first map, Na’Vi never gave them a chance on the second. Na`Vi ran off to a 13-2 lead in the first half as ENCE’s Allu floundered to a 1-13 line. Na’Vi took the map 16-3.
Difficulties for Allu didn’t end there as he struggled to make an impact with a 3-13 first half on Mirage, while rival sniper S1mple exploded with 16 early frags. With Na’Vi holding a 12-6 lead, victory seemed out of reach for ENCE until Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen came through with a massive quadruple kill on an eco round. That moment seemed to wake up Allu and drive ENCE to take the lead with seven straight rounds.
Na’Vi tied things up, but Aleksib once again came up huge with a triple kill to take map point. That seemed to shake Na’Vi as they were picked off one by one in round 30, allowing ENCE to steal the game 16-14 and the series 2-1.
Though ENCE entered the playoffs as one of the underdogs, the Finnish team has transformed into a legitimate contender with wins over top teams Natus Vincere and Team Liquid. It has also become a big favorite among fans with its exciting comebacks.
ENCE will face the winner of Astralis vs. MiBR in the grand finals. The Finnish side will enter as the underdog against either team, that doesn’t seem to be a problem for ENCE.