There is no doubt Team Liquid’s loss to ENCE is the story of IEM Katowice 2019 so far, and rightly so. Many people, this writer included, were left with egg on their faces having predicted that the North American team would make it to the final and maybe even depose the current kings of CS, Astralis. Now it’s time to ask, were those predictions premature, misguided, or simply born of the greatest crime of all, sleeping on the Finns.
Well, having had time to sleep on what happened, it is probably a mixture of the three, but the most important mistake people made was ignoring the facts of the year so far. This Team Liquid essentially played one LAN together before travelling to Poland, and that LAN might have actually made their job harder, as it was a strange combination of caveats and false dawns.
We are of course talking about IBP, the distastrous event held in the US at the start of 2019 that was most famous for incredibly lax security, until the final happened. Then, Team Liquid were able to grind out their first significant final win over the Danes, which pundits and fans alike (sometimes they were the same people) were delighted to see as it meant we could potential have competition for the top spot in 2019, something 2018 sorely lacked.
There is no need to write this team off just yet, especially when they were far from the only ones underestimating the ENCE boys
However, the caveats are many and plentiful, and it may be that a number of experts, and maybe even Liquid themselves put too much store in the result. Their pre-game interview vs ENCE was certainly one of the more confident we’ve seen from the NA mix, and that also turned out to be pride preceding a fall, but there is no need to write this team off just yet, especially when they were far from the only ones underestimating the ENCE boys.
Just you wait
The fact is, this team has only played that one LAN, and was then dropped right into the Danger Zone that is a CSGO Major, with enough hot air behind them to fuel a phalanx of balloons. That they dropped one best-of-three series should not be an issues in itself, as long as they learn the lessons of Katowice and improve from them.
The main point to take home will be that this team has the potential to beat anyone, but needs to maintain focus and cannot rely on their innate quality when facing teams that have spent time watching demos and anti-stratting. It also needs to be said that you win nothing in the first two weeks, and aside from booking your spot in the final eight there is nothing to be gained from playing your best there, but this team is so young that is not really a good argument, as they were just finding their limits, and might even have had more in store.
The real takeaway for this team should be positive, and there is a lot of room for their growth, too, as the coming months unfold. The players and coach will learn each other, develop their defaults and start to communicate more efficiently, and the talent is clear from day one. With the good mood that seemed to be in their camp, things are actually remarkably bright, and a single loss to an amazing ENCE squad is no reason to be pessimistic about their future. Berlin is another chance.
Image: Team Liquid