Since 2017, we’ve seen a number of professional projects coming up in the professional CSGO scene. However, out of many of those projects like eUnited, Rogue, CHAOS, RED Reserve, there is only a couple that ended relatively well.
One of those projects certainly is ENCE. The Finnish squad was announced back in April 2018 and while they had a slowly start, ENCE showed promise from the start.
All that promise was then put to proof at Katowice last week. There, not only they shown that they were the team to follow, they also gave signs that they might be the roster which will be taking 2019 by storm.
Since CS:GO popularity explosion, Finland disappointingly never had a team capable of fighting against the best. After all, Denmark, Sweden, France, US and Russia were the countries consistently bringing successful projects.
Still, the Finnish scene wasn’t dead. Over the years, we saw multiple teams, including previous iterations of ENCE along iGame, HAVU and many others coming from Finland, but they never achieved anything memorable.
However, in the past three years, we saw the surge of many promising players there. OttoNd, sergej, Aerial, Sunny and other Finnish players have shown that there was enough firepower. But something was lacking to make it all come together.
Incidentally, after ELEAGUE Boston 2018, Aleksi “allu” Jalli, a Finnish veteran that is mostly famous for his time in mousesports, NiP and FaZe, left his final international project, OpTic Gaming. The Finnish dream of a super-team was closer than expected.
Now, with Finland’s most experient player available, one that could guide his young peers, things were looking good. Still, allu is an awper, and this super-team needed a proper in-game leader. This is where HAVU, then the best Finnish team enters.
‘sergej’, the most promising talent from Finland and had just left HAVU in the end of 2017. His leader, ‘Aleksib’, which took HAVU to the top of Finland followed shortly. With those two also available, ENCE had three pieces of the puzzle sorted.
A super-team is not only composed of superstars. After all, the current CSGO meta requires many roles to be properly executed and just fragging is not enough. To fulfill a more supportive role, another player with experience would be needed.
This is where ‘xseveN’ enters. Sami “xseveN” Laasanen, is one of Finland’s most known players after having spent time in a number of Finnish teams. Still, he would need to proof his worth in ENCE in another way than just fragging.
The last piece to be added in ENCE roster would be the player that was giving ‘sergej’ a run for his money as the best of Finland. Aerial, while younger and unproven, was starting to make a name for himself in SuperJymy. ENCE needed their second fragging star and he filled in perfectly. With all pieces of the puzzle finally in place, it was time to start their journey.
ENCE first appearances weren’t any noteworthy as they were mostly open qualifiers were, they didn’t manage to book up spots. That only changed in June.
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Cologne, Kiev and taking the high road
Fortunately for ENCE, the Finnish squad managed to qualify for their first big event in June. Winning GG.Bet Majestic guaranteed them a spot in ESL One Cologne and that was their first big tournament appearance.
In Cologne, ENCE managed to book a top 8 finish after beating NiP and Mousesports and then losing to Na’Vi in the playoffs. While they didn’t qualify for FACEIT Major London 2018, results were steadily improving as seen below.
Afterwards, we saw ENCE grabbing the trophy at their local competition Finnish Championship 2018, taking first place in the qualifier for EPICENTER 2018 and winning ESEA MDL Advanced Season 28. September, however, was the month that ENCE stepped up.
ENCE started that month by grabbing the second-place medal in DreamHack Open Montreal. Then they followed in StarSeries Season VI by beating the likes of Mousesports, BIG, OpTic and then VEGA Squadron, making it their first big tournament win.
Afterwards, ENCE disappointed in EPICENTER. They quickly bounced back though, as they won Assembly GameXpo, DreamHack Open Winter 2018 and qualified for WESG 2018.
The Major Dream
ENCE started 2019 by qualifying for the IEM Katowice 2019 Europe Minor by beating LDLC and Heroic in the closed qualifier. Afterwards, in the Europe Minor, ENCE swept the opposition and took the first spot for the Major itself.
Then, the Major happened. In the first stage, ENCE repeated their dominant performance from the Minor and made to the following stage with a 3 – 1 record, only losing to Renegades. Things were set to take a turn for the worst though.
In the New Legends stage, ENCE started things badly. The Finns were sent to elimination zone directly in the first day for losing to Renegades and HellRaisers. Their next opponent, BIG, could very well turn up and sent them home on the next day.
However, allu wasn’t looking to go home early nor his team. ENCE started a comeback, and the first victim of the Finnish avalanche would be BIG. Following the German squad, G2 and AVANGAR were sent home by ENCE. Thus, similarly to Cloud9 dream run in Boston 2018, ENCE made a massive comeback.
Unfortunately, though, due to the drawing system, things weren’t looking hot for ENCE in the playoffs. Their first opponent was no other team than the favorites to beat Astralis and take the Major, Liquid. It seemed impossible for the Finnish finest.
Instead of crumbling to the pressure and leaving the possibility of a fluke in the air, ENCE instead went to IEM Katowice 2019 playoffs confident. Their confidence paid-off and they swapped positions with Liquid, now with the Finnish on the top.
The quarter-finals ended having ENCE beating Liquid 2 – 0 in a pretty convincingly way. In the semi-finals, Na’Vi posed a bigger thread, but even then, ENCE couldn’t be stopped.
Aleksib’s squad sent S1mple home, following Twistzz, GobB, KennyS and Jame. ENCE was then in the grand-finals against the behemoth under the name of Astralis.
While ENCE couldn’t even scare Astralis, their run at Katowice shows that they’re another rival for the Danes. Different than Na’Vi and MiBR though, ENCE is young and if they can put all they learn in Katowice to use immediately, they’ll keep improving at an incredible rate.
A Promising Year
ENCE is different from the top 10 teams in the world right now. Tactically, ENCE doesn’t have a deep strat-book. Instead, they rely in adapting their mid-round calls as they need it.
Moreover, their composure and confidence, especially Aleksib’s, is remarkably high. In the end of the equation, ENCE made a blueprint to successfully put a country back in the map of professional CSGO.
Now, ENCE is a flawed squad too. As Aleksib himself said in the post-match interview, his team was simply running default against Liquid. This overconfidence can very well prove to be an obstacle for ENCE growth this year.
We know that they can often be too confident sometimes. In their game against HellRaisers, it seemed that they neglected their opponents’ approach and tried to force their plans without properly dealing with their mistakes, which lead them to defeat.
Differently than Astralis, Na’Vi and FaZe, where players from those team have depth resumes, ENCE youngsters are learning and getting experience from every match they play, every tournament they go.
After all, only allu had an international experience before joining this project. ENCE will definitely be a fun team to follow, and if they can live up to their promise, they will be definitely consistently challenging Astralis’ reign later this year.
What’s even better from this project, though, is the legacy they left for other national projects around CSGO’s scene.
A Blueprint to Bring Back Another Countries Scenes Back in the Game
As said above, ENCE created a blueprint. We’ve seen a lot of projects trying to distinguish themselves from another’s. Right now, we have ‘Uruguay’ by ScreaM and draken, NoChance by Krystal and Maikelele and many others.
All those projects differ a bit, but they also follow the same line of bringing a country or a set of players back in the top. Some lack firepower, other lacks tactics, but what they all lack in common is innovation.
The French scene knows very well how mixing the same players for years can make irrelevant teams as they paid for this dearly last year. Finally, France brought new players to the big stage and so far, their results are somewhat better than they got previously. With ENCE succeeding in an even higher level than Vitality and G2, it just shows that veterans are valuable pieces, but they shouldn’t compose the larger part of those projects.
Still, another country that might be in the tracks for a resurrection in CSGO is Norway. The Norwegian scene is ready to be the first one to follow ENCE’s steps according to rumours and players hints. In fact, their situation is somewhat relatable to Finland’s before ENCE.
Can they do it, though? Norway has RUBINO, which was one of the best support players back in 2016 and they also have cromen, that played very well under FaZe last year. Can they pick the right pieces to build a roster? They have enough up and coming talent for it at least. Hallzerk, Radifaction, truth, Marcelious, all those could be picked to fill ranks of a team following ENCE’s wave.
We’ll be seeing ENCE sooner than later again
ENCE already has a packed schedule for the close future. Online, they will be playing at ESEA MDL Season 30, and next week they will be flying to Chongqing to compete on WESG 2018 World Finals.
We also expect them to be taking part in multiple qualifiers, so we should get our ENCE fix sooner than later. Will you be following them? Do you think that ENCE can overcome Astralis anytime soon? Let us know below.