It really isn't easy for ENCE anymore.
It’s no longer quite so easy for ENCE. What was once a meme became reality, and then back to meme again - and while many point to the Aleksib roster move, what exactly where they supposed to do?
ENCE went from CS:GO Major finalists to another 5-8th team. Maybe some fans would be happy with being part of the top 10, but the whole point of competition is to be the best. It was clear that this roster was never going to be the best team in the world, and if you’re trying to be the best, you have to take a gamble.
That’s why ENCE took the Curbishley Gambit.
The Curbishley Gambit is what I’ve dubbed the decision to change your leader despite massive over-achievement to be in the top ten, in pursuit of something great, and ultimately failing. Maybe my endless football references are tiring, but this one is so ridiculously on point I can’t avoid it.
Charlton were a consistent top 10 team in the Premier League in the early 2000’s under the guidance of Alan Curbishley. They hadn’t really ever been this high up before, and were massively over-achieving for years, but sections of their fans and board weren’t happy with stagnation. They removed Curbishley from his role, and started free-falling. Within two years they were a second-tier side, and only a year later were a League One side.
But there was more to it, with ENCE. Obviously, in CS, your leader is a player too - and in a team lacking firepower, it would be foolish not to consider changing him. While Charlton could probably have signed better players, that, ultimately, came down to Curbishley.
In terms of roles in the team, I stand by the fact that changing Aleksib made the most sense, but ONLY in the context of Aleksib’s system. What I mean is, that Aleksi was usually the ‘fourth man’ of the team, and not the ‘support’ player. Changing your fifth man, the support, is rarely an important upgrade for that role is deliberately meant for more efficient players who can do a lot with less resources, and is forced to play tough roles that are often more about dying for one kill, using utility well, and other things that don’t require insane mechanics. xseven was safe, because his role was important and didn’t need an upgrade - certainly not before a role that actually does something.
Changing sergej was out of the question, and allu is the father of the team and the main AWPer - he’s probably the best player to come out of Finland in recent years. That leaves Aerial, who many have clamoured for the removal of.
I personally wouldn’t have swapped Aerial for suNny. Aerial is a hard entry, and those players tend to be pretty underrated by a lot of people. I’m not somebody who claims stats mean nothing - of course they do - but in a dedicated entry role like his, they can look worse than their performance deserves. An entry kill onto the bombsite is the most important kill of the round, as with it, in an organised setting, the result of the round is nearly always set if you get the entry on the T side.
Aerial, last year, was a large part of the reason ENCE’s T sides were so good - one might argue, Aleksib was the biggest reason, and I wouldn’t disagree. Aleksib, in his role, was obviously the weakest member in terms of firepower. He wasn’t an entry fragger, he wasn’t a fifth man - he had chances to frag and have impact.
But, these roles were only pertinent inside of the Aleksib system. It’s only worth upgrading on Aleksib’s firepower - which suNny at his peak is, by a vast margin - if you can keep the system in tact under a new leader. ENCE haven’t done that, and no longer are able to abuse teams’ mistakes like they used to. Their defaults and mid rounds were as good at exploiting positioning mistakes as anybody else’s in the world, and now they’re an also-ran team with not enough firepower to get away with being an average tactical team.
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So what was the solution? I don’t think there was one. ENCE were always going to be found out, as has happened to FURIA, MiBR, FaZe, fnatic - all for different reasons. The only way I can think it may have worked is if Aleksib had swallowed his pride and taken up xseven’s roles, and suNny was brought in for xseven. This would have given ENCE the firepower upgrade they need without sacrificing Aleksi, only his ego.
But of course, this wasn’t going to happen. ENCE fell apart partially as the team fell out with Aleksi and didn’t like the way he called and it was always going to end badly. We now get to see Aleksi on a stacked team, and see just how good he really is, while ENCE are showing just what they are without him.
Curbishley, despite constantly being ‘available’ for jobs for years and years (there’s a whole inside joke about it), never got another job. At least Aleksi has that chance.
The Charlton story is ongoing, but for now, they’re back in the second tier. They languished in the third tier for a while, but finally they found the man who could make them a real team again, a former player by the name of Lee Bowyer, and were looking like a solid playoffs team at the start of this year. They’re back in mid-table, now, but they’ll never take that for granted again.
ENCE may have to wait, but eventually, they’ll find their own Lee Bowyer, and maybe they’ll be only a little worse than they were under the Curbish- sorry, Aleksib halcyon days.
Images via ESL