NiP have secured a berth in the DreamHack Masters Spring playoffs with a narrow victory over ENCE.
The Swedish side salvaged their future in the tournament, securing third place in Group D and a ticket in the playoffs after all, despite starting their debut showing with Hampus “hampus” Poser on the wrong foot with two straightforward losses to Vitality and Natus Vincere.
The opposite was the case for ENCE, who got off well in the group stage after beating Natus Vincere 2-0 in their opening match after the return of Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen to the starting roster, but ended up in last place and eliminated after a loss to Vitality put them in the do-or-die match against NiP.
With the final match of Group D finished, Natus Vincere have secured first place in the group and set up a meeting against G2 in the upper bracket semi-finals, while Vitality and NiP will play in the first round of the lower bracket against Heroic and Astralis, respectively.
ENCE picked Train to start the series but quickly found themselves struggling on the offense as they had to work hard for just a few rounds on the board. NiP got off well with Tim “nawwk” Jonasson and Nicolas “Plopski” Gonzalez Zamora pulling the weight, and at first the Finns looked competitive when Aleksi “allu” Jalli and Miikka “suNny” Kemppi put up a 1v2 clutch each on the B bombsite in the opening few gunrounds, but soon the Swedes took control to secure an 11-4 half.
ENCE were able to soften the blow with a pistol round win and soon they reset their opponents’ economy, which eventually helped them claw back to double digits as Jere “sergej” Salo added another 1v2 to the Finns’ tally. The clutches started going the other way, though, with NiP turning around a 2v4 and a 1v2 starring Simon “twist” Eliasson, to close out the opening map 16-11.
ENCE looked to answer on Inferno with a stellar start on the defense, which went unanswered for the first six rounds, in part thanks to Jani “Aerial” Jussila’s heroics in a 2v4 retake situation against pistols. It wasn’t until they were down 1-8 that the Swedes found a recipe for success, with 1v2 clutches from nawwk and twist helping NiP climb back.
With just one round separating the two teams at halftime, ENCE ran away with the first three rounds of the second half on the back of Jamppi’s pistol round triple, but soon the two teams were within touching distance again once NiP got a hold of rifles. Despite losing an anti-halfbuy later on, Björn “THREAT” Pers’s squad persevered and managed to take the map to overtime, where they sealed the deal 19-17.