ENCE took home the IEM Dallas 2023 trophy by defeating MOUZ 2-0 in the grand finals. Time and again, the org put up impressive performances in important LANs like IEM, but time and again, they fell short on every occasion in recent memory.
Last year, the team fell short of winning this same event after losing to Cloud9 3-0, but this year, a different story played out in front of the North American crowd.
Despite coming off of a multi-overtime third map in the semifinal series against FaZe Clan, which left ENCE less than a day to prepare for MOUZ, the team continued the momentum by defeating their European counterpart to clinch its first-ever IEM title.
Following the series against MOUZ, BLIX talked to ENCE IGL Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer on how the team captured the IEM Dallas 2023 title, the contribution of Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia, what it means for his career, and more.
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Congrats, Snappi. You're the IEM Dallas 2023 champion. It's the first time you've won such an honor for ENCE. How does that sound to you?
Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer: It feels amazing. It's been a long time coming. We've been in some finals, and we've been close, but this is the first time we take home a big trophy, and for me personally, for the players and for the org, it's amazing.
BLIX: Rewinding back the clock to last year, you guys were in the grand finals in Dallas against Cloud9 but weren't able to take home the trophy there. What made this different against a team like MOUZ?
Snappi: To be honest, I think we have grown [since then], and this team right now is much better on stage. On top of it, we played with Snax. Not to say anything bad about Snax because, to be honest, he was the best player in the final [last year], and he was unreal, but obviously, it makes a difference when you are playing with a stand-in because you lack some of your structure and strategies. This time, we were better prepared, we came and we took home the trophy.
BLIX: The team got to this point after defeating FaZe in the semifinals off of that extraordinary third map which went to multiple overtimes, which could have made the team a little mentally fatigued, but how did you and the rest of ENCE transition from that series to the finals?
Snappi: As soon as we got out, we got back to the hotel and said, "We have 30 minutes. You can chill and enjoy, and then we start prep." We ordered food, and then we started watching MOUZ. We started making a game plan. We didn't waste any time, and then we went to bed.
BLIX: What were the things that you found from observing MOUZ's gameplay that you exploited as an IGL?
Snappi: On Nuke, in general, they had some gaps. I'm not going to go into detail because I want to be able to use it, but there were some big gaps on Nuke, in my opinion. On Mirage, they were gambling a little bit, I would say. We ran into one stack, but then we also hit them a few times where they didn't have it. I would say we just made a solid game plan. We chose which of our defaults and set strats we would potentially run in the game. We talked about it, and everyone felt comfortable.
Snappi on SunPayus: "His favorite AWPers were these Russian AWPers in sh1ro and Jame. I've been telling him, 'stop watching these. You can play this style but you can be so much more aggressive. You can get so much more out of yourself.'"
BLIX: Looking at the rest of the team, the one who provided the biggest contribution to how the tournament played out for ENCE is SunPayus, whose performance garnered MVP honors. What about SunPayus' performance contributed to the team's eventual result here?
Snappi: His favorite AWPers were these Russian AWPers in sh1ro and Jame. I've been telling him, "Stop watching these. You can play this style, but you can be so much more aggressive. You can get so much more out of yourself." It was a blessing that dev1ce came back because he loves dev1ce also, so he started watching him, but the thing is he turned it on aggression-wise, and I think a lot of this made him realize that he can also do this, and he did it in this tournament. I think he played amazing. He got the MVP, and deservedly so. He's been the best version of himself at this tournament, and I'm really proud of him.
BLIX: Taking the conversation back to you, you had to fight and struggle a lot to finally this trophy for ENCE. What does winning this trophy mean about you and your career in this career?
Snappi: I think people will look at me now as an in-game leader that took a lot of players that weren't top players in their former teams. I believe that I'm an in-game leader that always got more out of my players than maybe I should have, and now here in ENCE, I believe I will be a very respected in-game leader for taking a lot of Tier-2 and helping them get into Tier-1, developing all of them and how being able to develop this team into a trophy team.
BLIX: To come off of the Paris Major and transition to Dallas where you were able to win it all, there's going to be a wave of momentum for this team and their aspirations for winning more silverware in the future. How are you guys going to keep this momentum going from this event?
Snappi: The fact that we cracked it now and won a trophy will be a blueprint for the next tournament. We can say, "What did we do right here" and then we can stick to that. I believe the fact that we got over that hump will make the next time easier. Obviously, there's always pressure when you're sitting in a final, and you never won one before, and that takes a lot of the pressure off because you can play way more freely next time.