The IEM Dallas 2023 Grand Final is finally upon us, after a week of non-stop CS:GO. We’ve had upsets galore, and it’s only right that ENCE and MOUZ get to face off for their first ever S-Tier trophies.
The MOUZ Story
What a tale this has been for MOUZ. They weren’t exactly high on our IEM Dallas 2023 power rankings, but now they’re in the Grand Final and verging on something special.
After their abysmal performance in the BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023, you’d be forgiven for thinking this iteration of MOUZ was done and dusted. A team going through the motions before inevitable roster changes. How wrong we were. This was a MOUZ full of life, led by IGL dexter with a career-best performance. In a sea of Danish IGLs, it’s been the Aussie that has stood out so far. He was simply remarkable, and looks nailed on for tournament MVP.
They had to qualify for the IEM Dallas 2023 Playoffs the hard way, through the Lower Bracket, beating FURIA and OG without dropping a single map.
Then, the Playoffs, where they faced a resurgent Astralis with their new-look roster. Sure, MOUZ gave Astralis their chances, but ultimately it was another 2:0 win where they never looked under threat of defeat.
A Semi-Final clash against Heroic awaited. The Danes were the ones that condemned MOUZ to the Lower Bracket in Group A, and were odds-on favorites to repeat the feat in the Playoffs. However, it seems Heroic’s chokes on the big stage have started to take a real mental toll on the team. They never really got going, as MOUZ took the series 2:1. IEM Dallas 2023 Grand Final secured.
Now, MOUZ stand on the verge of history. Even during karrigan’s era as IGL, the team has never won an S-Tier tournament. Now, they just have to beat ENCE to get over the line. That won’t be an easy task, with ENCE going on a Cinderella run of their own. Both teams have so much to fight for on the big stage.
Easy Work For ENCE
The runners-up of IEM Dallas 2022, ENCE are back for more this year. Last year, only Cloud9 stood in their way. This time, it’s MOUZ who can prevent their date with destiny. But ENCE were another team that showed plenty of resilience throughout the tournament, and are in with a great shot of victory in the IEM Dallas 2023 Grand Final.
Their Group Stage run was plain sailing. Complexity offered very little challenge in the opener, with ENCE securing a 16:7 victory. It was a promising sign of good things to come. Like MOUZ, they’d suffered a terrible BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023 run, but this was the beginning of a brilliant bounceback. FaZe were next to fall in a 2:0 clean sweep. Playoffs were secured.
They then faced Astralis for a Semi-Final berth. At times this game was Astralis’ to lose, but they couldn’t close it. Take nothing away from ENCE, though. When opportunities arise, they still have to take them. And grasp them they did, confirming a Semi-Finals spot against FaZe.
And so we come to it. That Semi-Final. The first two maps were great fun, but when all’s said and done, we’ll likely look at that third map on Ancient as one of best CS:GO matches ever played. By the time we’d reached the 59th round in OT5, both teams were practically playing deathmatch on the server. It felt like it would never end, with the last match on LAN to go that long Astralis vs NRG at StarLadder Major Berlin all the way back in 2019.
In the end, the difference ended up being FaZe’s karrigan dropping just 22 kills across 59 rounds. It’s an unwinnable kill tally. But we need to discuss ENCE’s mental strength here. In OT4, FaZe took a 3-round lead, yet ENCE brought it back with ease. In NertZ and SunPayus, they had two players relatively new to the Tier 1 scene. Did they crumble under pressure as the rounds piled on? Absolutely not – they thrived under it, resulting in a remarkable 31:28 scoreline at the finish.
With such a game played out, it’s simply unthinkable that ENCE might not win the IEM Dallas 2023 Grand Final. But we mustn’t forget MOUZ, who have provided moments of quality throughout. To give a prediction, we think ENCE will do it. It’s just tough to imagine any other scenario after this.