You may have missed it, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did. The time difference was rough for CS:GO bettors in America, and even Europe. But this past weekend, something unexpected happened. Two teams that had been essentially written off met in the Grand Finals of an S Tier International LAN. Yes, that’s right, ENCE and Mousesports might be back. To mark this historic occasion, I wanted to dig into the stats and see if this upswing is sustainable, and whether we should look at these teams as legitimate contenders (for playoff spots at least) in the near future.
I figure we can start with the runner up. In case you’ve somehow forgotten, allow me to catch you up to speed with the Finnish saga. After the StarLadder Major, where ENCE secured a Quarter Finals spot, the Finns kicked their In Game Leader Aleksib in favor of suNny, one of the more prominent Finnish players over the last couple years. This move immediately blew up in their face, as many in the CS scene suggested it would, and they proceeded to finish 5th-8th at two of the three S Tier LANs they’ve competed at since.
The CS:GO Asia Championship marked the team’s fourth S Tier LAN they’ve attended since the roster move, and it appears things are looking up. They swept their group with ease, putting away Mousesports 2-1 without much trouble. In bracket they were gifted a Semi Finals spot, where they dispatched MIBR. Finally, they met Mousesports for the rematch where they lost 0-2.
So, first things first – beating MIBR and Mousesports is not a world beating list of accomplishments. It does, however, show marked improvement from this squad. Up until now their best win was a best of one over Fnatic at DreamHack Masters Malmo.
What’s even more encouraging is how the players looked and performed in Shanghai. While they didn’t have anyone in the top five best Rated at the event, all five member went positive. Sergej looked closer to his old self, with a 1.08 Rating and five clutches over 10 maps. Allu and suNny continued to struggle, unfortunately, but this may be the beginning of ENCE turning the corner.
If we refine our focus even more (which I usually wouldn’t suggest because small sample size, but let’s take a risk), and dial in on the decider map between ENCE and Mousesports in the group stage, their stats look very encouraging. suNny went 21-16 with a 1.29 Rating, which is exactly what he is supposed to do. Aerial, allu and sergej all had good games, which helped them put Mousesports away 16-11 on Dust II.
All this does is prove that this lineup can work. Not that it will work. While they showed encouraging signs in Shanghai, ENCE are still a ways away from being a real contender.
Now for the champions. Again, a brief history if you’re unfamiliar. After Mousesports bombed out of the Katowice Major qualifier they revamped their roster, adding young talents woxic and frozen, as well as veteran IGL Karrigan. Since then they’ve been on a slow grind back to Tier One, qualifying for the StarLadder Major and picking up some quality wins at events like DreamHack Masters Malmo.
Despite their rebuild, however, they had yet to make a Grand Finals appearance at an S Tier tournament this year, until the CS:GO Asia Championship. While they floundered in groups against ENCE, they rallied back to 2-0 Evil Geniuses, 2-1 TyLoo, and 2-0 ENCE to win the tournament from the Quarter Finals.
For the first time ever for this team, all three of woxic, frozen and ropz were in the top 10 highest Rated at the event, albeit not by much. Woxic was Rated a 1.17 with a 1.28 K/D over 12 maps, which earned him the MVP award. Ropz and Frozen followed him at 1.14 and 1.13 respectively, which is about what I want out of those two.
I’d say that their most impressive win at this event was their decisive 2-0 victory over EG, but I don’t think I can bring myself to say that and mean it. While EG is pretty assuredly a top three team in CS:GO right now, they pretty obviously didn’t have it in Shanghai.
What was impressive was their win over TyLoo. Summer, somebody and BnTeT were the three highest Rated players at the tournament, and it took big performances from all three of Mouesports’ young trio to claim victory. On their overtime game on Inferno, Ropz went 35-22 with a Rating of 1.47, which is absurd. He was helped by woxic’s 1.12, and the European mix was able to power through TyLoo. In the Grand Finals it was frozen that took over, going 45-25 over two maps to secure the victory.
If and when Karrigan can get all three of these players firing on all cylinders, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. In some ways they remind me of an even more high powered version of Evil Geniuses. Three young all stars, a veteran fragger (chrisJ/Tarik), and a world class IGL (Karrigan/Stanislaw) should make this team top five easily.
So, this looks much more real for Mousesports than it does for ENCE. I look forward to seeing Mouz at the EPL Finals in early December to see if they can keep this hot streak up and rack up some more top 10 quality wins. As for ENCE, I want to see more consistent performances from their stars, especially suNny. He was brought in as a firepower upgrade, and he’s barely beating Aleksib’s numbers from when he was on the team.