IEM Katowice is almost upon us, which means it’s time to place your bets on who will be taking home the trophy after the first Major of 2019. Leading up to the start of the Major, I will be going over all the teams I think have a legitimate shot at winning the tournament, starting with ENCE and working my way up to (spoiler alert) Astralis. All the odds for this series will be taken from Betway, unless I mention otherwise, and we encourage you to bet there, or on any of these other sites:

ENCE (+2000)

ENCE is the team with the longest odds that I could see winning Katowice. At +2000, that means that a 100$ bet would net you 2100$, which is a lot of cash. Obviously, that means that this bet would be a pretty sizable longshot, but I don’t think it would be impossible.

What needs to go right?

Sergej needs to have the tournament of his life

sergej is the 16-year-old Finnish all-star playing for ENCE, and the crown jewel of that team. He already has an MVP under his belt and looks like he may be a superstar caliber player sooner rather than later. He was one of ENCE’s best player at the Minor, and he is consistently the best player on his team, which is something you don’t see all the time from a 16-year-old.

As good as sergej is, he isn’t ready for the Major. He doesn’t have the necessary experience to carry his team deep into this Major, probably. He would need to take an outsized jump to have that kind of performance. While I do think that this time next year we will be talking about sergej as a player that can carry his team deep into a stacked, international LAN like this, him doing it now would be asking too much too early.

And yet, I still have ENCE in the running. Because yes, it seems impossible. But it wouldn’t necessarily be unprecedented. In 2017, Magisk took a leap at the ELEAGUE Major, bringing his team to fifth before being eliminated by Virtus.Pro. I don’t think we can rule out a breakout performance by sergej, although I still think it’s a hair to early.

Allu needs to be Allu

Allu is, and always has been, the real star of ENCE. He is largely responsible for the creation of the all Finnish lineup, and has been playing with the team since 2016, minus his excursion with FaZe. He has been their veteran leader, their best clutch player, and hangs with sergej on the scoreboard routinely.

Basically, what I’m saying is, he is crucial to their success. He can go toe-to-toe with some of the best AWPers in the world, he holds the team down with his calming Finnish demeanor, and he is one of their better performers in elimination games.

Allu needs to show up for this tournament, as a player and as a leader. There’s nothing in his history as a CS:GO player that would make me think he wouldn’t, but it’s hard to understate his importance to this team. Presumably this is what Allu has been after since he resurrected ENCE in 2016: an all Finnish lineup, poised to make waves in tier-one international CS. I have little doubt he’ll come to Katowice primed and ready.

What could go wrong?

Aleksib could get outplayed

The role, importance, and even definition of in-game-leader has changed a lot in the past couple of years. In modern CS, an IGL must be able to frag at the highest level, while also dealing with all the tactical and strategic elements of the game. Holding their own on the scoreboard while out-calling the other team’s IGL is a must-have. Look at the most successful IGLs of the last few years: FalleN, Gla1ve, Karrigan, Tarik. Pretty much every tournament winning IGL since 2016 could top-frag in any given game, except for Zeus.

Aleksib’s stats are fine for the most part. He actually outperforms xseveN on LAN, which is good for ENCE. The problem is, how will he fare against an MiBR, or an Astralis. Can Aleksib match up against these legendary IGLs? That’s a big question mark for me. Playing on ENCE has been Aleksib’s only tier one experience, and he hasn’t won much.

One thing going for him is the consistency of the roster. They haven’t made a move since April of last year, and that kind of experience and cohesion is helpful to an IGL. He can rely on that experience, chemistry, and built in teamplay to take on bigger, badder teams.

The longest road

ENCE qualified to the Major through the European Minor. This means they have to play the most games to make it to the finals. They would have to make it through the New Challengers Stage, the New Legends Stage, and finally the New Champions Stage. I like ENCE a lot, and I haven’t been shy about it in the run up to the Major. But playing that many games would be tough for any team.

There’s always a chance that a fluky result will doom a team at a tournament this size, and that chance increases with every game a team must play.

Betting Prediction

Prediction: Overall, I like ENCE a lot. I think betting them to make it out of the New Challengers Stage would be smart. I like them in a lot of individual matchups, and I will certainly be looking for them as an underdog, as I think they make a good upset team. +2000 is great odds, but they are certainly a longshot team.

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