With Astralis’ too heavily favoured in their matchup against MIBR in the Semifinals of IEM Katowice 2019, we set our eyes on the more intriguing Natus Vincere vs ENCE matchup.
The semifinals of IEM Katowice 2019 have been decided, with Astralis set to take on MIBR and ENCE facing off against yet another heavy favourite in Natus Vincere.
Of the two matches, we want to focus more on the latter. Although it would be interesting to see a battle between top CS:GO teams in the MIBR-Astralis matchup, the fact is, Astralis hold a 7-1 series record over MIBR. The Brazilian side’s lone win? It came in a non-bearing group stages matchup at the LAN Finals of ECS Season 6. Lest we forget, Astralis ultimately won that tournament over MIBR in a tightly contested grand finals that went all the way to double OT in the series clincher.
Meanwhile, the matchup between ENCE and Natus Vincere is a cleans late. These two teams have only met once during the duration of their current lineups, and this was at ESL One Cologne 2018, ENCE’s first big event together.
With that said, the potential for upset here is very real, especially now that ENCE have proven themselves capable of winning against top-caliber teams.
What Can We Expect from the Natus Vincere vs ENCE Matchup?
As convincing as Natus Vincere’s win against FaZe Clan was, ENCE’s upset over Team Liquid was even more noteworthy.
ENCE played with the calm and composure of a seasoned team against Team Liquid, baiting the #2 CS:GO team in the world into overextending and playing aggressively, which they punished with their defaults. However, we don’t really feel that the same tactic is going to work against Natus Vincere. Because, unlike Team Liquid, the CIS squad’s skill level across all players isn’t what you’d call consistent. They have two of the best fraggers in the world in Oleksandr ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev and Denis ‘electronic‘ Sharipov, as well as a really good one in Egor ‘flamie‘ Vasilyev if he’s in form. Finally, they’ve got players who are weak individually but are strong team players in Danylo ‘Zeus‘ Teslenko and Ioann ‘Edward‘ Sukhariev.
Heavy aggression can and have punished Natus Vincere’s lineup in the past, but ENCE just don’t play the kind of style that can take advantage of it.
To have any shot at winning, ENCE will have to play some near-perfect CS:GO and hope that Natus Vincere tilts. Because, unlike Team Liquid, the CIS squad’s strategies are far too simple (get it?) to mess up.
Betting Prediction for Natus Vincere vs ENCE
We know what s1mple is capable of and how he’s almost always the best player on the server, regardless of who his team is up against. He’s often willed Natus Vincere to victories alone, this time around, he’s got flamie, who’s playing his best CS:GO in a while, as backup. Not to mention, electronic could still go off at any moment’s notice. This only adds to all of the things that ENCE will have to play for in their matchup.
While Natus Vincere’s tendency to forcebuy has been rendered less effective because of the AUG meta, especially on the T-side, they have the experience and mental fortitude to push through when the proverbial shit hits the fan.
This isn’t to say that ENCE are not a mentally strong team. They are. You can’t make it to the semifinals of a Major without knowing how to handle pressure. However, the deeper their run goes, the more pressure there is. Given that this is the first Major semifinals for all but one of ENCE’s players, it’s only fair to wonder if this team can still continue performing as they have when the stakes are the highest.
As for the map veto, ENCE might bait Natus Vincere into banning Cache while they take away Overpass. This leaves any two of Nuke, Inferno, or Train as the first two maps, with Natus Vincere likely preferring Train. This should leave Dust2 for the decider.
Betting: Natus Vincere to win vs ENCE at 1.43 odds via 10bet.
Feature image credit: Copyright ESL / Bart Oerbekke