Astralis continue to cruise regardless of their competition, sweeping ENCE 2-0 in the grand finals of IEM Katowice 2019 to take home their third CS:GO Major, tying them with Fnatic with the most all-time.
ENCE entered the matchup as the heavy underdogs despite taking out top contenders, Team Liquid and Natus Vincere, en route. With the map veto going arguably Astralis’ way, thanks in part to a must-ban map in Nuke, where the Danes are currently 26-0, the series never really looked close. The only time ENCE were able to take the lead was when they went up 2-0 on Train, after which Astralis would assert their dominance and never look back.
It was a collective effort for Astralis as every player except for their IGL, Lukas ‘gla1ve‘ Rosssander, finished the grand finals with at least a 1.28 rating, with three of their players getting at least 40 kills across 40 maps. Meanwhile, it was a struggle just for ENCE to keep up as all of their players ended the series in the negative.
With the win, Astralis have now won two straight Majors and all but 6 of the LAN tournaments they have played in with their current lineup (18).
ENCE Have Nowhere to Go But Up
ENCE can hold their head up high with their performance at IEM Katowice 2019 knowing that it took the legendary Astralis lineup to put an end to their amazing run.
Heading into the tournament, most had ENCE’s ceiling as a top 8 team, especially after they were matched with the second-best CS:GO team in the world, Team Liquid, in their first match in the playoffs of IEM Katowice 2019. However, instead of losing, as per most people’s expectations, ENCE took out Team Liquid 2-0, showing a lot of grit by climbing out of a 15-8 hole in Inferno to take the map in overtime, 16-19, and clinch the series.
Up against Natus Vincere, the all-Finnish lineup successfully fended off Oleksandr ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev, who took over the map for Natus Vincere and very nearly willed his team to a win by his lonesome.
All in all, ENCE finished the tournament proving that you don’t need a single star player to challenge the best that CS:GO had to offer. Even though their players had brilliant individual performances throughout, it was their simplistic but highly effective defaults, mid-round calls, and superior strategy that allowed them to topple, not one but two CS:GO giants as they went home with a second-place finish to show for their first CS:GO Major.
We’ve seen what ENCE can do at IEM Katowice 2019, and we can only expect them to improve going forward.
Magisk Joins the Million Dollar Club
If you told me a year ago that Astralis were going to be a much better team with Markus ‘Kjaerbye‘ Kjærbye out of the lineup and Emil ‘Magisk‘ Reif slotting in, I’d be really skeptical about your sanity.
While Magisk was not a bad player by any means, he was replacing an established talent that had spent years playing with the core players of Astralis. That he could come in and make the team “better”, especially in relatively little time, was a far-fetched idea. But, that’s exactly what he has done.
The 20-year-old came into Astralis fresh off of being kicked by OpTic Gaming and with only the occasional flash of brilliance to show for his name. More than one year later, he’s now won so much more than he ever had before in his career and joins his teammates in Astralis as the only players in CS:GO history to have ever won a million dollars in prize money.
That he’d become an MVP at a CS:GO Major is an icing on the cake as his 1.28 individual player rating was enough to get him the nod over Nicolai ‘dev1ce‘ Reedtz, who was arguably more brilliant by posting a tournament-leading 1.32 rating across 11 maps.
Either way, as the youngest member of the historically-dominant Astralis lineup, Magisk will only continue to rack up accolades as Astralis proves that no CS:GO team right now even comes close to being on their level.
Who’s the Biggest Threat to Astralis’ Reign Now?
Astralis winning IEM Katowice 2019 and dropping just a single map only serves to strengthen their case as the best CS:GO team of all time.
Now, the question is, who are Astralis’ biggest threat?
Both mousesports and the old Virtus.Pro are no more. FaZe Clan have no IGL and we have no way of telling when they’ll ever figure out what’s best for the team. As for Fnatic, they haven’t really been contenders for nearly a year. The new MIBR lineup showed a lot of promise, but they’re still playing with a new lineup, so it’ll take time for them to truly mesh. The same goes for Team Liquid, who, despite beating Astralis at iBUYPOWER Masters IV, will have to prove that this lineup will not succumb to the pressure. Last, but certainly not the least, Natus Vincere are looking like they’re closer to disbanding than becoming true contenders.
No offense to ENCE, but as magical their run at IEM Katowice 2019 has been, they’ve still got so much left to prove.
With that said, I just listed down a handful of teams that have tried to topple Astralis over the past year, and failed.
Given how young Astralis’ core of players are and how much more they have left in the tank, it’s highly likely that it will take a lot of time before we see some team emerge to give Astralis a good run for their money.
Now that IEM Katowice 2019 is over, we have a string of big events to look forward to in the coming months.
For the month of March, there’s the Global Finals of WESG 2018 on March 11-17; BLAST Pro Series: São Paulo 2019 on March 22-23; and finally, the StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7. But, perhaps more importantly, now that the Major is over, expect a lot of roster shuffles to happen as organizations try to find what’s lacking in their CS:GO teams and help prepare them for the next Major, which will be hosted by StarLadder in Berlin in August.
Copyright: ESL / Adela Sznajder
What do you think was the biggest storyline that came out of IEM Katowice 2019? Do you think ENCE can keep their form and continue contending? Is 2019 going to be yet another good year for Astralis? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.