Now dare to say it out loud again: ENCE is back! At least for the jump, if not yet based on world rankings (18th) or tournament wins.
The Finnish Counter-Strike team shared the victory of the BLAST Showdown qualifier tournament over the weekend with a clean game (although in the group stage, two matches ended in a draw). This was ENCE's first good result since late summer 2019.
ENCE's last autumn's player exchange, which is not further elaborated now, was anything but an immediate success. The eight months of September – April can be summarized as follows: Disappointment after another, a team of fans Ivan targeted and a worldwide topic of laughter.
In April, everything changed: ENCE announced that it had made an agreement with 18-year-old super promise Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen, who will share playing time with Sami “xseveN” Laananen until the break that begins in early July. There is no information yet about the arrangements for the autumn.
Olkkonen was expected to bring new enthusiasm, energy and, above all, self-confidence to the team. Based on the results and game performances, this has also happened: with Olkkonen, ENCE has 9 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws out of 13 games. The young promise, whose career is overshadowed by the controversial major game ban, has, as expected, been the focus of attention and has received a lot of glow from his accomplishments.
Read more: CS star Elias Olkkonen, 18, sues gambler - trying to overturn his lifetime ban
Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen has cheered up ENCE's game.
Miikka “suNny” Kemppi, who became the game manager in connection with the announcement of Olkkonen's contract, also deserves his own praise. Under Kemppi, ENCE's game has taken on a new kind of attitude compared to Aleksi's "allu" Jalli.
To the delight of the fans, Kemppi, who was also added to the list of the best players in 2018, has again and again started to produce real problems for his opponents. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Jere “Sergej” Salo, who has still not found his level last year.
Last year, Salo was one of the best players of the year (13th on HLTV’s annual list), but this year ENCE’s superior star player has been the sniper rifle player Jalli. If (and when) Salo returns to his old level, ENCE is again a notch more intimidating opponent.
Jere “Sergej” Salo has not been the star player expected by ENCE, or at least supporters, from one match to another this year.
Photo: Tuomo Väkevä / ENCE
The results of ENCE's last month and a half would be easy to find, no matter what the explanations: Now we only play online, most of the top names are not in the blow, the winnings have not come convincingly enough ... Jossit can always be done, In every way.
The players have regained their previous self-confidence, the team is once again enjoying the popularity of the fans and the spectator numbers of ENCE matches also seem to be on the rise. The good performances of Olkkonen and the team have reminded many of the “good old ENCE”.
However, a dark cloud is hovering over the bright future of the Finnish team. What happens when the team plays with Laasane again? The first answer to this is obtained immediately after Midsummer when the second tournament of the major qualifying series (cs_summit 6) is played.
Sami “xseveN” Laasanen has made room for Olkkonen in tournaments. ENCE has made plans around a 6-player lineup for only 5.7. until the start of the player break.
Photo: Tuomo Väkevä / ENCE
Laas can be called a different support player, whose work is often overlooked. He is thus the complete opposite of Olkkonen, who has brought the much-needed firepower and taken a prominent role in the game. Under Kemppi's leadership, ENCE's game has also looked better with Laasanen, but the sample is small so far.
Whatever happened, ENCE must not now let the Stacked Hype die right from the start. The ride can be cold again if the fear of performance gets the upper hand, as it did last fall. ENCE will certainly do its utmost to never get into the situation again.
Nonetheless, the first real days of joy for ENCE fans since the Berlin Major Tournament, where the old line-up said goodbye in September 2019, are now underway.