This day brought us a final of the StarSeries i-League Season 6 in Kiev, Ukraine. A best-of-five matchup between the Finnish ENCE and the CIS Vega Squadron. The matchup went all the way as a very back-and-forth battle emerged where both teams would end up stealing their opponent’s map picks. Fans of Counter-Strike were in for a real treat this time around.
Train brings a close battle from the start
The very first map brought us to Train, and from the get-go, it looked like an intense matchup was in the making. Both sides felt very comfortable on their counter-terrorist sides. ENCE would go on to take the initial lead at the half after phenomenally denying entry onto the bombsites. It took Vega Squadron eight rounds before they could actually get a bomb plant. ENCE went on to win the half 10-5.
Fortunately for the CIS squad, their ct-side would be even stronger. The youngster, Jere “sergej” Salo, would go on to attain a staggering 28 kills and attempt to try to stop a comeback being mounted on by Vega. Unfortunately, his performance would fall short as Vega would go on to make a fantastic comeback. ENCE nearly closed things out, as at one point they would attain a 14-12 lead. This was followed by a choke, which Vega took advantage of. Anton “tonyblack” Kolesnikov pulled his team together to grab the last four rounds necessary to close out the map. Vega Squadron won the map 16-14 despite fantastic individual performances by ENCE players.
Inferno fires up ENCE
The second map, Inferno, was a totally different match by comparison. Jani “Aerial” Jussila would go on to have a fantastic match, foreshadowed by a 4k on the very first pistol round. ENCE was phenomenal on their terrorist side. Out of 12 rounds won, eight were by successful bomb plants, which goes to show Vega’s problems with bombsite defense. The half finished 12-3 for ENCE as Vega Squadron was looking weak and devastated.
The CIS squad would go on to grab the first three rounds on their own t-side, eliminating all of the counter-terrorists. Unfortunately, on full buy rounds, the Finnish squad would regain their form from the last half and go on to grab the last four rounds necessary for the win. Inferno ended with a dominating win for ENCE 16-6, where everyone had their input into the easy win.
ENCE follows up on Dust2
Dust2, picked by ENCE, would go their way. This time around, however, it would come much closer when compared to Inferno.
The Finns grabbed the first pistol round, but Vega Squadron was quick to respond with the following four rounds on their t-side. And hence, a back and forth match emerged, where neither side would be able to pull ahead by a significant margin. The half ended 8-7 in favor of ENCE, and it was the beginning of the end for Vega.
After side switch, ENCE swiftly got to work. The first five rounds went to ENCE where yet again sergej stepped up alongside Aleksi “allu” Jalli’s AWP-ing. Vega would successfully string together five rounds of their own, but that was not enough as ENCE clinched the last three rounds to close out Dust2. It was sergej coming out yet again on top with the highest HLTV rating 2.0 of 1.51.
Mirage goes Vega’s way
At a 2-1 score for ENCE, Mirage was the do-or-die map for Vega Squadron. On their own map pick, luckily for them, Mirage was the right pick.
The first half looked dark for Vega. Starting out as the terrorists, Vega would only be able to grab six rounds at the half, meaning that the half was won by the Finnish side 9-6. Despite that, Anton “tonyblack” Kolesnikov was having a good time on defense, leading his team in frags. ENCE’s site holds were too much for Vega, and that meant that the CIS team would have to work twice as hard on their ct-side to stay alive in the final.
Vega, however, did not disappoint. The CIS sharks went on to build an impenetrable wall on the ct-side. ENCE only got a chance to plant the bomb once in the entire half as Vega clinched 10 rounds to win the map and take things to the final decider map, Overpass.
This time around the duo of the aforementioned tonyblack and Pavel “hutji” Lashkov secured the map for the sharks with above-average performances, especially on defense.
Overpass just a formality
The decider map brought the teams to Overpass where the winner would be decided. The Finnish side kicked off things quickly on their t-side. Vega seemed lost among the oncoming terrorists and failed to hold their own against ENCE. The half finished in a comfortable favor for ENCE, 12-3, and it seemed like it was going to be over real fast for the CIS team.
Fortunately, Vega woke up on their t-side as they grabbed the pistol and the following four rounds. Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov was doing his best on t-side to stir a comeback for his side. Unfortunately, the promising start was cut short after the Finnish ENCE also woke up again, to close out the game with a big lead, 16-9.
— ENCE (@ENCE) October 14, 2018
How far can ENCE go?
After today’s results, and ENCE’s results in StarSeries i-League, one may wonder how far this team can go. With the experienced Aleksi “allu” Jalli and youngsters such as Jere “sergej” Salo (16 years old), the revived Finnish squad is looking sharp. Of course, we have not seen many Tier 1 teams at the tournament in Kiev, but it was a very long and tedious path to reach the final. Yet ENCE prevailed and succeeded. Hopefully we will see more of the same from this promising roster, with allu, Aerial, Aleksib, xseveN, and sergej paving the way for Finnish Counter-Strike.
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