ENCE defeat ATK in NertZ debut to earn first win at EPL
The Israeli rifler topped the server with a 1.31 rating to carry his team to a 2-1 victory over the North American roster.
ENCE are through to the ESL Pro League Season 17 Group D upper bracket semi-final after dispatching ATK in a three-map series. Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer and company got off to a strong start after a 16-6 win on Anubis, but suffered a 14-16 defeat on their Vertigo pick and ultimately required a 16-9 victory on Ancient to cast their foes down to the lower bracket.
It was a successful, albeit hard-fought, day at the office for Guy "NertZ" Iluz, who was also making his debut in ENCE colors. The Israeli rifler finished the three-map series with a 1.31 rating to his name and was tied with Pavle "Maden" Bošković for most kills (64). ENCE will be looking to carry their new recruit's strong form into their next matchup versus Rare Atom, which is slated to get going on Thursday at 16:00 and will be the difference between the European side securing a playoff berth or being sent down to the lower bracket themselves.
ATK's recent woes have only worsened with this defeat. The international lineup, who are fielding Aleksandar "CacaNito" Kjulukoski as a stand-in, traveled to Europe for a weeklong practice period ahead of their ESL Pro League campaign, but have failed to show a high level of form and now sit on a five-series loss streak during their time in the Old World.
The Gareth "MisteM" Ries-led roster will need to dig deep and bring their A-game moving forward if they're to recover and stave off an early sentence down to the do-or-die last chance stage, with their next matchup being against their North American counterparts of Liquid on Thursday at 19:30 .
ATK pulled out an Anubis pick to start the series, a likely choice given it's their best map over the past three months with six wins out of nine appearances.
Things didn't immediately go according to plan for the North American-based lineup, however, and ENCE soon found themselves up 5-0 on the T-side thanks to a flawless 8-0 K-D start from Alvaro "SunPayus" Garcia. It took a double kill from Jonathan "b0denmaster" Bodenmalm in round 10 for ATK to finally get on the scoresheet, a victory the side took full advantage of by reducing the deficit down to just five rounds by the interval to remain in contention.
ATK took home the second pistol round of the map without suffering a single casualty, but Snappi's men managed to snatch away the momentum on the back of a mishmash buy of Desert Eagles and CZ-75s. That win in the pistol round proved to be all MisteM and company could muster on the Egypt-inspired map, with ENCE's stalwart holds of the bombsites allowing the European combine to race to victory with ease, 16-6, to force a trip to Vertigo.
ATK enjoyed a strong start to Vertigo and jumped out to a 6-2 lead on the CT-side thanks to strong performances from Michael "Swisher" Schmid and MisteM, who combined for 18 frags midway through the opening half. This lead didn't come easy, though, and ATK often fought tooth and nail to put each round on the board, something which came back to haunt the NA roster as their economy was stretched thin once ENCE returned to winning ways. This financial fragility ended up being the South African-led lineup's undoing, and spurred on by a 20-10 performance from NertZ — the team's newest recruit — ENCE ended up trailing by just one round at the side swap, often coming up against an ATK who lacked full nade sets.
A 1vs2 clutch from Swisher in the 19th round got his team onto double digits first, and a confidence-filled ATK wasted no time in pressing home their advantage by adding a further three rounds unopposed to inch closer to forcing an Ancient decider, 13-9. A triple kill from CacaNito guided ATK onto map point, but a rejuvenated ENCE forced the two teams to use all 30 rounds available before ATK reigned supreme despite being down to Mac-10s and Galils in their final hit of the B bombsite.
Strong fragging from Maden got Ancient rolling, with the Montenegrin finding impact round after round to escort his side to a 5-1 advantage on the T-side. Regular brawls in the post-plant — often involving 4vs4 or 5vs5 retakes — favored ATK as the half played out, and the multinational roster managed to eat away at the deficit to keep the Europeans honest. Alas, ATK's preference to gift ENCE the bombsite before pulling off retakes ultimately proved costly and Snappi's troops strung together three of the final four rounds to sport nine rounds by halftime.
A back-and-forth skirmish descended on the Aztec map once play resumed, with both sides taking turns to post short-lived sprees of rounds. A triple kill from Paweł "dycha" Dycha and his P250 flipped the script, however, and the European-majority camp, now brimming with confidence, sprinted to victory with few issues, leaving ATK in the dust en route to a 16-9 and 2-1 win.
|ATK||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|56 - 60||-4||83.5||1.05|
|49 - 54||-5||72.3||0.97|
|52 - 55||-3||65.9||0.92|
|40 - 61||-21||74.4||0.78|
|33 - 51||-18||46.5||0.69|
|ENCE||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|64 - 47||+17||86.0||1.31|
|64 - 50||+14||92.5||1.25|
|50 - 42||+8||80.8||1.24|
|58 - 42||+16||69.8||1.20|
|43 - 51||-8||72.3||1.02|