Photo: By Adela Sznajder for DreamHack
‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
The IEM Katowice 2019 semi-finals have been decided. This first semifinals match will be between Na`Vi and ENCE. Na`Vi won a convincing victory over FaZe 2-0 without s1mple even getting into the game. As for ENCE, they pulled out one of the greatest upsets in Major history by taking down Liquid 2-0.
While that upset was amazing, I’m still not convinced that ENCE can go all the way. Consider the matchup for the moment. Na`Vi have asymmetrical skill where they have either very good individual players (s1mple, electronic, and flamie when in form) and weak individual players in Zeus and Edward. While that’s generally a problem for the team, ENCE don’t play an aggressive dueling style on their T-side to take advantage of it.
In terms of overall tactics, ENCE is favored. ENCE run and play solid Counter-Strike with solid executes, defaults, and map control. Na`Vi still run the classic Zeus style combined with forcebuys. I believe the forcebuy style has been ineffective in this tournament as the AUG meta gives CT-sides even longer ranges to take duels. This should be especially true for ENCE.
If we’re looking at experience and firepower, this favors Na`Vi. S1mple will likely be the best player in the server and the level of impact he brings is insane. Everyone on the Na`Vi is used to this stage, whereas this will be the first Major semifinals for four out of the five ENCE players. While ENCE have shown a lot of mental strength thus far, each level of the pagoda increases the pressure, so we’ll have to see how they perform.
As for the map veto, here is how I think it works out.
ENCE ban overpass (will float cache)
Na`Vi ban cache (they could float it, but I can’t remember a time they did).
ENCE pick Inferno
Na`Vi pick Train
ENCE ban mirage (can play both nuke and inferno)
Na`Vi ban nuke
Last map Dust2
*Notes on the map veto: ENCE usually permaban cache, but will float it against Na`Vi as Na`Vi don’t play cache. Na`Vi could get into a game of map veto chicken by also floating it, but I can’t recall them ever doing it, so in all likelihood they just ban it. ENCE should pick inferno to punish Na`Vi (nuke is also an option, but inferno seems safer). Na`Vi will pick Train as that’s one of their best maps. ENCE will probably second ban Mirage as they should feel like they have the edge on nuke and can play Dust2. Na`Vi ban nuke and the final map is Dust2.
If the map veto plays out like this, then ENCE should have a good shot to take the series. While the map veto is good, I don’t think another miracle upset will occur. For ENCE to beat Liquid, a few things had to happen beyond ENCE just playing great CS. First, Liquid had to over aggressively take duels against ENCE on Mirage and overthink some of their tactics. Secondly, they had to fall apart on the CT-side of Inferno. I don’t think either of those things will apply when it comes to Na`Vi. As that’s the case, I have Na`Vi winning 2-1.