It’s time to enter the Mercedes-Benz Arena as the StarLadder Major is down to the last eight, featuring tantalizing matchups across the board. First up, it’s the Finns against the Aussies in the clash of up-and-coming teams that were both slated for greatness after Katowice but only one of them ended up making good on the promise so far. Can jks and co. have the last laugh or will expectations prevail?
Based on what we’ve seen so far at the major, the removal of Aleksib doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. ENCE have been excellent up until this point and their IGL posted pretty good individual numbers as well, and they’ve deservedly taken the 3-0 bracket. That said, Renegades’ 3-2 showing is much better than it may have seemed, losing two very close best-of-one matches against fellow top eight sides (NRG and AVANGAR), becoming one of the very few teams who managed to make the full comeback from the brink of elimination the hard way, winning three best-of-threes on the bounce.
Interestingly, the Finns have not played Vertigo at all, suggesting they will stop that curveball opportunity from coming into play against the Renegades. This, in turn, may mean that Dust 2 is on the cards, a map that doesn’t necessarily lend itself that well to ENCE’s tactics-heavy style. The head-to-head results also paint a curious picture as Aleksib and co. lost their first few encounters against the Australian side – a close-fought 0-2 at the first stage of the Katowice major, a best-of-one loss in the New Legends Stage afterwards and trading maps at cs_summit 4 – but they’ve taken a 2-0 win in their most recent match at IEM Chicago.
It’s going to be a fascinating matchup between two teams that many would have written off as flukes at the beginning of the year, both of which have proven that they deserve their spot in the top eight. Both their form and their previous encounters seem to suggest that this is going to be a close-fought series, but ENCE’s big-stage experience and stronger record at the event so far seems to suggest that they may very well edge out this one, though it’s likely going to be by a narrower margin than the odds suggest.
(Photo credit: HLTV)