After a series of negative results, the European team defeated the hosts, making a historic comeback to lift the Pro League S6 trophy.
The beginning of everything in Rainbow Six: Siege
Before the arrival of ENCE Organization in R6: Siege, the team's core played for GiFu eSports, featuring Jouni "Bounssi" Salo, Niklas "Willkey" Ojalainen, and one of the legends from the G2/Penta era, Joonas "jNSzki" Savolainen. The team, composed entirely of Finnish players, quickly established themselves as the most consistent team during their first two years of competition, being the only core that participated in all international championships.
In the first-ever Pro League, the team came to fight. The qualification for the international stage was not easy at all. The team secured second place based on round difference against the Spanish team gBots, and had one point more than TCM: the squad of the legendary Alex “z1ronic” Dalgaard-Hanse. Once in the playoffs, the team beat their first challenger, powerhouse Team Orbit, who had the world champion Austin "Yung" Trexler and the legend Michael "KiXSTAr" Stockley. But then, in the grand final, the Finns lost to PENTA, led by Niclas "Pengu" Mouritzen. Unbeknownst to them, this is the last time they would be on the big stage for quite some time.
The curse begins
In Pro League S2, the organization's drought began. The team secured their spot in the international tournament but were eliminated in the semifinals after losing the rematch against Team Orbit.
After these disappointing results, the organization decided it was time for some change. The team recruited yet another player with an eye on the future: Ville “SHA77E” Palola. However, once again, the team fell short in the semifinals of Pro League Season 2, this time to the legendary Continuum and once again to the legendary 'Canadian.'
In the first Six Invitational (2017), the same narrative applied. The team secured a direct invite to the competition, advancing to the semifinals, awaiting only the series winner between Team Envy (APAC) and eRa Eternity (NA). eRa Eternity, led by Tyler "Ecl9pse", emerged victorious against Envy and made quick work of the Finnish roster. Once again, GiFu found themselves eliminated in their first match of the tournament.
More roster changes
But GiFu continued to prepare its lineup with a long-term vision.or Pro League S4, the team saw the arrival of Otto “Pannari” Heikkinen and Juhani “Kantoraketti” Toivonen, the latter being a young talent who was making waves in ranked matches (did he succeed in Rainbow Six: Siege?). But they still needed time to achieve the desired results. In that same season, they suffered a defeat against Black Dragons, who were making their debut in Pro League, with a roster featuring André "NESKWGA" Oliveira and Leo "ziG" Duarte representing the LATAM region.
In Pro League S5, and now competing as ENCE, they finished first place in the European region, which theoretically should have given them an advantage in their matches. However, things didn't go as planned. The team, once again, suffered defeat in their first match, this time against the North American team Elevate, led by legends Alexander "Skys" Magor, Aaron "Shuttle" Dugger, and Gabriel "LaXInG" Mirelez.
Stats for the team’s international performance during this negative period:
- 7 Matches
- 1 Victory
- 6 Defeats
- 7 Maps Won
- 13 Maps Lost
The team only failed to win a map in the final against PENTA in Pro League Season 1 and then went on to experience a streak of 5 games/competitions without a victory.
The Turning Point in Pro League S6
Despite their constant shortcomings, Ence were relentless. They refused to give up and abandon the pursuit of glory and turned towards Pro League S6. During the regional phase, ENCE had a near-flawless campaign, reaching the grand final without losing any maps and with only six rounds lost in three best-of-three series. However, in their seed match against PENTA, the Finnish team lost two maps to zero, but hope was in the air. There was a feeling that this time, they were better prepared for the international competition.
Despite the loss to PENTA, ENCE had their heads held high and were prepared. Due to rivalry from a recent match, Ence had the full support of the home crowd at Mega Arena X5 in São Paulo. After a hard-fought battle, Ence eliminated Evil Geniuses two maps to one, securing their first victory after five winless international tournaments. The crowd got behind the team, celebrating the Finnish victory and showing support. This was the team’s first win on LAN in 1 year, and the community realized that the curse had been broken. In December 2017, player "pannari" talked about this victory and just how much it meant in an interview with Ubisoft: “Yes, definitely! (regarding the victory against Evil Geniuses being a turning point) Winning that first game on LAN was very important for us. It felt like we finally have beaten our demons and that now, no one can stop us.”
Day 2 of the competition saw ENCE needing to defeat the Brazilian team Team Fontt, featuring a lineup of Guilherme "gohaN" Alf, Leonardo "Astro" Luis, Gabriel "cameram4n" Hespanhol, Rafael "mav" Freitas, and João "HSnamuringa" Deam. Now, the crowd didn’t seem to be too friendly anymore, but it didn’t matter.
In the first map, the team delivered an impeccable performance, securing a resounding 5-0 victory (at that stage, matches went up to 5 rounds and overtime to 6). In the second map, there was a little bit more competition , but Bounssi shined, executing an excellent 1v3 clutch Chalet (clip below) to successfully deny the plant in the last second of the 3rd round. Despite the Brazilian team's efforts, ENCE won the match and secured their spot in the grand final of Pro League S6.
The duel for the Pro League final was not yet determined; it depended on the match between PENTA and Black Dragons, and the home advantage played a role in this series. In a game full of energy from the crowd and the players, the Brazilians achieved a victory over the reigning champions, beating PENTA by two maps to zero. The arena was overwhelmed with emotion, with Brazilian caster André "meligeni" Santos even shedding tears. Seeing this, it was clear that facing an enthusiastic crowd and an inspired home team would be a very difficult situation for ENCE.
The grand finals
On the first map, Oregon, ENCE performed exceptionally well, winning 5-2. However, in the second map, Chalet, the situation didn't go according to plan for the team. It was a 4-0 victory for Black Dragons, with the standout player on the opposing team, Gustavo "Psycho" Rigal, delivering an incredible performance, with nine kills and only one death. The Brazillians had all of the momentum and to turn the tide, something unexpected needed to happen; Ence needed a spark. And it did. In the fifth round, star player Bounssi lit the match and struck again.
Bounssi saved the team when they most needed it during a 1v3 clutch (clip below, this time against "Psycho", Julio "julio" Giacomelli, and João "Kamikaze" Gomes, denying the plant in the last second. It's worth noting that the plant was happening in the exact same spot where he previously had a 1v3 against Team Fontt.
Until that round, the situation was extremely delicate for the Finns, with the crowd fully supporting the Brazilian team Black Dragons. In four rounds, ENCE had only 7 kills combined for all their players (!), while the Brazilians consistently ended each round with at least two players alive, demonstrating that the 5th round of the map was completely normal on Chalet. But, things started to turn. After the 1v3 clutch, the atmosphere of the match changed and momentum was back in Ence’s favor. To make things worse for Black Dragons, a friendly fire incident occurred when Kantoraketti accidentally killed SHA77E in the following round. As the rounds progressed, the energy in the arena began to wane, and the feeling grew, everyone was prepared for the historic comeback. The Fontt fans had already accepted it would happen. And it did, in overtime, with six consecutive rounds and a highly aggressive defense to seal the game, ENCE finally won the title.
Regarding the incredible comeback on Chalet against Black Dragons, "Bounssi" said in an interview with Ubisoft in 2017: “Our whole mentality for these finals were just to play our own game and not think about winning it too much. This prevents stupid mistakes from happening. When we were at the 0-4 situation, we said “ok guys, play like the game is 0-0. Round by round. Don’t think ahead about a possible loss. Just play”. Then our game started working and we got the comeback.”
The respect shown at the end of the match by applauding the home team, the gratitude expressed for all the support they received in the first match of the competition, which helped overcome the winless streak, the respect and affection from the crowd despite defeating Brazilian teams, the emotion displayed by Willkey when lifting the trophy for the first time – everything was incredible. ENCE won with a beautiful story that will be etched in the hearts of all those who were present or experienced this moment.