Two ENCE fans celebrate in the audience following a round win in the IEM Katowice 2024 quarter finals | Photo by Freja Borne | IEM Katowice 2024 coverage powered by Predator Gaming
Never has a stadium fallen so quiet or roared so loud.
Not a single seat in the Spodek was left buttless, not a single fan could contain their outpouring of passion and pride. Katowice has done as it always does: filled the hearts of Counter-Strike fans with the most joyous tragedies of success and failure.
It had been eight years since a Polish team sat on the Spodek stage in the IEM Katowice Playoffs, and it seemed no Polish fan was going to miss their chance to see ENCE fulfilling their dreams. The quarter finals were a mere glass slipper away from being the most magical Cinderella story, but despite their best efforts, the home team couldn’t escape before the Falcon’s counter went past 12.
Needless to say, their efforts advanced beyond admirable, surpassing every expectation and making their fans so proud that shouts of “ENCE” could be heard echoing in the streets long after the final game concluded.
Katowice’s second quarter final began with several hard lessons for the team on restraint, cohesion and coordination. The Falcons seemed to probe every weakness, surging ahead rapidly despite the rallying cries across the crowd. However, after a string of painful losses, ENCE won their first round.
Never have I felt the gravitational shift of thousands jumping to their feet in simultaneous ecstasy. Right from the start the message was clear – no matter what the result, every win, every kill, every well-placed smoke from ENCE would earn them a tidal wave of chants, shouting, stomping, and cheers.
The team certainly thrived on the tsunami of noise, clawing back rounds wherever they could and winning the second map, pushing Falcons to their very limit. Right until the last round of the third map, their energy was matched, their fans’ pride glowing.
The young and inexperienced team certainly have plenty to take away from IEM Katowice – both the highest of highs and the hardest of truths. They have plenty to work on.
Player missteps were not infrequent, particularly in the timing of crucial decisions. However, they put up an incredible fight as the bravest underdogs. In the end, it was a mere one round that cost them the game, with map three ending 13-11.
I doubt I will ever have the pleasure of being in the presence of such dedicated fans ever again, and that, I don’t mind. The passion in Katowice is undeniable, and it is something I will treasure and remember at every event for every esport for the rest of my life.
After their victory, Falcons will move forward to battle Team Spirit in the semi finals. Faze also progressed after defeating the reigning champions, G2, in fabulous fashion, confidently conquering them in only two maps (see our chat with Faze rain on reaching the IEM Katowice 2024 semi finals here). They now face Mouz before they can reach the final.
Although ENCE’s game was the favourite of the night, Faze’s performance should not be overlooked. Witnessing their experienced IGL Finn ‘karrigan’ Anderson exchange relaxed fistbumps while G2’s Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač slammed the desk in fury exposed Faze Clan’s dominance. While no team can be perfect, they look to be formidable opponents with a clear shot at the Katowice crown.
Soaring successes to tantalising tragedy, the first day of IEM Katowice was a triumph. My heart lies with ENCE, and I have every confidence this is not the last we will see of the Polish sweethearts.
Hannah is a writer specialising in the esports, gaming, and technology sectors. Working for companies such as Lionscreed Esports, Esports Insider, and SideQuest Hub she has developed a love for wider esports and Apex Legends, although it may never surpass her drive to passionately beat her friends in every game of Mariokart. You may have seen her at various esports and gaming events, including ESI London, EGX, Discover: Esports and many League of Legends watch parties.