Underdogs of ENCE beat Astralis at BLAST Pro Series Madrid

Angus Nordlund, Staff Writer

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Astralis in the past year have been viewed by many to be the best team to ever grace the (CSGO) esports scene, winning 13 tournaments in 2018, one of which was the FACEIT London Major, one of the biggest tournaments of the year. So far this year they have continued to show dominance, winning both BLAST Pro Series: São Paulo, and the Intel Extreme Masters Season XIII – Katowice Major, in which they beat ENCE in the finals, 2-0. With that many victories, at so many high ranking tournaments, Astralis were able to amass millions of dollars in prize winnings, making them the highest earning professional CSGO team ever, and currently the 16th highest earning esports organization.

ENCE on the other hand, have not had the most successful or popular history when it comes to CSGO, though they have tried for years. Since the beginning their goal has been to make the finnish esports scene more consistent and well known, but they have always seemed to come up short. In fact, they were considered one of the main laughing stocks of the scene back in 2014, who were always memed on.

Even though they disbanded their former CSGO roster in 2017, the determination of their marketing director, Joona “natu” Leppänen, caused them to reemerge with a completely new roster, with veteran player, Aleksi “allu” Jalli, rejoining the team, along with four new and young players, including the likes of Aleksi “Aleksib Virolainen and Jere “sergej” Salo, who previously had success with another Finnish organization, Havu Gaming. While many were skeptical at first, ENCE quickly started to prove themselves and putting up promising results. They won their first premier event, at StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 6 and coming 2nd to Astralis at the Katowice Major.

Leading up to Blast Pro Series Madrid, ENCE were not predicted by many to win the tournament. Though they came in 3rd at the last event in São Paulo, many thought they could possibly pose a threat, but with teams like Astralis and Natus Vincere in attendance, ENCE would have their work cut out for them. However, ENCE have been known to never underestimate their opponents.

In the group stages, ENCE put up strong victories against teams like Natus Vincere, Cloud9 and Giants Gaming, and though they suffered a surprising loss at the hands of Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP), they even managed to beat Astralis for the first time. With a 4-1 record, ENCE qualified for the grand final, which unsurprisingly pitted them against Astralis yet again.

Astralis got to pick the first map in the best of 3 series. Picking Nuke, which is a map they held an impressive 30-0 record on. ENCE were not fazed and went head on at Astralis on their home turf, literally. As the map went on it was clear what ENCE’s plan was, to give Astralis no time or breathing room to plan their next move. Playing with an extremely aggressive strategy and momentum, they managed to shock everyone, beating Astralis on the map the very map they were undefeated on, with a score of 16-9. Now the tone was set. Everyone, including Astralis, knew ENCE came to play.

Next up, Train, a map that Astralis defeated ENCE on, in the finals of the Katowice Major. However, Astralis have been known to be able to come back, so there was still a good chance for a third and final map. It did look like Astralis would have a chance, as they went up 5-0 for the beginning of the map. ENCE did not let that deter them, as they mounted a comeback making the score much closer at halftime, with Astralis leading by only 1, in an 8-7 situation.

Now it was up to ENCE to finish the job. Though they managed to get to match point, leading 15-11, but Astralis were not done yet, with two convincing round wins, Astralis gave themselves the momentum they needed, but it was not to be. With one definitive round, ENCE sealed the deal and managed to beat Astralis.

As they hoisted the golden trophy, the realization settled in on everyone watching, ENCE just beat the kings of Counter Strike, and not just that, they managed to do it in such convincing fashion, something better teams haven’t been able to do in the past. Jani “Aerial” Jussila was named MVP with a whopping 46 kills to his name.

Many had considered ENCE a contender up to this point, but with a victory like that, the title of contender changed to champion.

Sources:
● https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIICj_zBpOI
● https://liquipedia.net/counterstrike/ENCE
● https://liquipedia.net/counterstrike/Astralis
● https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5_Zp1Sc58k
● https://liquipedia.net/counterstrike/Natu
● https://liquipedia.net/counterstrike/Sergej
● https://www.talkesport.com/wp-content/uploads/D6UIE8wW4AIZXkk.jpg
● https://www.youtube.com/user/yur0n1