A map for the ages: 5 overtimes needed to separate IEM Dallas CS:GO semifinalists

After a decisive victory over FaZe Clan on June 3, ENCE has qualified for the IEM Dallas grand final after playing more than 100 rounds over three maps—and nearly 60 on decider Ancient alone.

The Counter-Strike fans who witnessed today’s IEM Dallas semifinal could do nothing but stand and applaud both ENCE and FaZe, who simply would not let go of the grand final spot on Ancient.

After both teams comfortably took their map picks, ENCE found themselves on the back foot at 1-7 in the decider. But a six-round streak courtesy of impressive calling from captain Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer marshalled their way back into the map by halftime.

The Finnish organization would capitalize early in the second half, ultimately leading 13-9 and threatening a boilover. But FaZe, like clockwork, rose to the occasion on the biggest stage. Off the back of sheer brilliance from Helvijs “broky” Saukants and some key calls from veteran Finn “karrigan” Andersen, FaZe fought back into the map and forced overtime.

Normally, as teams descend deeper into overtime, the match turns to chaos, and strategy is abandoned as competitors become desperate to end affairs. Not so in today’s final: both squads were impeccable in their approach on offense and stalwart in defense.

ENCE would ride the wave, however, ultimately sealing the series 31-29 in stunning fashion. ENCE’s top three fraggers—SunPayus, Maden, and Snappi—would combine for a mind-boggling 135 kills on Ancient.

It was a particularly bright moment for Israeli star Guy “NertZ” Iluz, with the win over FaZe just his second on a stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. “I cannot even believe it. It was an amazing game,” he said immediately following the series. “We said in the TeamSpeak, we don’t care if we lose [or] win, we just enjoy the game.”

FaZe chief karrigan was heartbroken following the match. While his decisions during the latter stages of regulation undoubtedly kept his squad alive, his performance was poor across the series, scoring just a 0.66 HLTV rating and 38 kills over the behemoth 105-round semifinal.

“I felt like I let my team down today. It’s kind of rough,” said karrigan. “I mean, when you play that many rounds, you have to think outside of the box. I feel like we had so many rounds down to the wire.”

The loss marks FaZe’s third straight defeat to ENCE. The Finnish organization downed FaZe already during the group stage at IEM Dallas whilst also defeating FaZe at the BLAST Paris Major Challenger Stage.

“It’s hard when you have expectations when you’re getting that close,” karrigan said, noting the squad was fighting hard to rebound after a mostly disappointing season of CS:GO. “ENCE was the better team today, and we just have to work on our mistakes, and hopefully, we can show a better FaZe next time.”

ENCE will take on surprise packet MOUZ in the Dallas grand final, who upset Heroic 2-1 in the other semifinal. Most had dismissed dexter and co. after a poor showing at the BLAST Paris Major, with many believing the French tournament would be the last for the existing lineup and that future success would require a roster change.

The IEM Dallas grand final is set to begin at 12:30pm CT on June 4.

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