Top 20 players of 2013: JW (8)
The player who can be called the revelation of the year, Jesper "JW" Wecksell, takes the 8th place on our Top 20 of 2013 by eSportsventure.com. He earned it by starring for Epsilon during their 2nd place campaign at DreamHack Summer, and more importantly by putting in an MVP-worthy performance at DreamHack Winter on fnatic's championship run. Not only that, but there was no player more important for his team throughout the whole year, and he was also one of the very best entry killers.
Basic info and history
Jesper "JW" Wecksell's Counter-Strike career doesn't go too far back, only to 2009 when he attended his first local CS 1.6 LAN as a 14-year-old, and there met his future teammate and friend Andreas "schneider" Lindberg.
The two youngsters would stick together for the next several years, but making a breakthrough out of Sweden's excessive talent pool would prove to be no easy task. It took them three years to get to their first international test, after qualifying for Intel Core Challenge by Inferno Online in May 2012.
Their HeLlSlAyErZ team was paired up with the experienced Poles ESC Gaming already in the first round, so Wecksell's first battle with the very best didn't last long. Soon that the third member of a now established trio, Robin "flusha" Rönnquist, joined the lineup, and together they tried qualifying for what would turn out being the last big CS 1.6 tournament in Sweden, DreamHack Summer.
This time Virtus.pro would knock them out at the very last step of the BYOC qualifier, but the youngsters would still show some promise that weekend by putting up a solid fight against SK Gaming and Björn "threat" Pers' WinFakt in the Swedish Championship.
With CS 1.6 on the decline just when Wecksell & co. started their rise, they had to try their luck in the new game.
Wecksell would embark on the new adventure on his own at first, joining a Norwegian-Swedish team gosu that also featured Martin "cENTRYZ" Brandal. They came close to qualifying for the first big event in the new game, ESWC, but lost to Jacob "Pimp" Winneche's HastaLaVista in the semi-final of the Nordic qualifier. Nevertheless, Wecksell became the star of the very first CS:GO highlight video here on HLTV.org.
After that, he would move to an all-Swedish squad WRTT and quickly garner some unwanted fame. In the THOR Open qualifier #6 the team wound up beating ESC Gaming 16-0 and then NiP 16-11, and Wecksell would be at the center of the cheating accusations, with the admins eventually disqualifying his team, albeit without any proof.
"I got disqualified from THOR Open because I was not "trustworthy". At that point it felt like my whole career was over, I always take things too hard and too personal, and at that point I didn't know what to do. I don't think anyone can understand what they actually did to me, they more or less went official saying I AM a cheater but I'm not gonna get banned."
Despite having a bad reputation in the community because of the disqualification, Epsilon organization believed in the Swedes and picked them up near the end of 2012. A month into the new year, they would welcome Wecksell's former teammates Rönnquist and Lindberg, and they would together make some more headlines soon after that.
With Wecksell on form scoring 0.90 kills per round, Epsilon surprised everyone and won RaidCall EMS One Spring Cup #1 by defeating n!faculty (who previously beat NiP) in the final. They would almost repeat that a week later, but that time NiP was too strong in the last match.
Cheating accusations would once again fly all over the place, and mid-March the team was once again disqualified, this time from ESL's competitions, as Jerry "xelos" Råberg was convicted of cheating in the final against n!faculty a month earlier.
He would get replaced on the same day, along with Tonoy "Lox" Prince, as Epsilon welcomed André "berg" Kjellberg and Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg in hopes of getting better in-game leadership.
JW made his big LAN debut at Copenhagen Games
Two weeks later, they traveled to Copenhagen Games, the first really big LAN event of the now 18-year-old Wecksell's career. He would immediately confirm the potential he showed online, putting up great performances against fnatic and Na`Vi in the group stage and helping Epsilon move on to the playoffs as 2nd in a three-way tie. He ended up having a good event overall, with team's second best 1.11 rating, but he somewhat quieted down in the latter stages.
The team would end up losing to Western Wolves and VeryGames, but not before beating ESC Gaming in the lower bracket 16-14, the Poles who had previously kickstarted Wecksell's bad reputation during the THOR Open qualifier.
"We were very happy with our performance there, it could have gone a bit better but it could also have gone a lot worse. Overall it was a good event for us, we showed that we had potential and I think some people also got to understand that none of us cheat, so in my opinion we proved ourselves.
The only advice I can give to people [about being accused cheaters] is that they should not take it so hard, I did and it's not good, you should just keep doing your thing, at least you know that you don't cheat, that should be enough."
They would go on to win Svecup Norrköping and NLAN over their local rivals Lemondogs and Alexander "SKYTTEN" Carlsson's hGh to further establish themselves as one of Sweden's best, but would later lose to a new incarnation of Carlsson's team, ESG!, in the IOS DreamHack qualifier, putting their hopes of attending DreamHack Summer in danger.
That would result in removing their new in-game leader Kjellberg, and temporarily adding Wecksell's former teammate from gosu, Martin "cENTRYZ" Brandal. The team eventually managed to qualify for DreamHack Summer through Fnatic FragOut League Season 2 where they finished 3rd.
And while the Copenhagen Games performance was a good start to their careers, DreamHack Summer would end up being a true breakthrough for the young squad. With Wecksell in top shape, Epsilon would go on to knock out North Americans Curse in the group stage, and then as 2nd in their group advance to the playoffs.
Before that though, the team took part in the Swedish Championship and made it to the grand final on stage against NiP. They even managed to win the first map, and then take a respectable 6 rounds on the T-side of train in the second, but the Ninjas would come back and triumph 1-2 (16-11, 10-16, 6-16).
"I was really annoyed for some time with the train match versus NiP in the grand final of the Swedish Championship which we lost 16-10 and I finished with like 8-30 in stats or something. If I had just played a bit better we would have won that match & tournament for sure."
That bad performance in the final seemed to have sparked Wecksell the next day, who went on a rampage in the playoffs of the international tournament by putting in Man of the Match performances in both the quarter-final against Western Wolves (52:34, 1.39 rating, 14 entry kills), and the semi-final against LDLC.com (72:58, 1.16 rating, 20 entry kills).
JW (second from the left) with his first big cheque
In the end they would once again lose to NiP in the grand final, this time much more convincingly (5-16, 2-16), but nevertheless Wecksell had proved to be a star prior to that. He collected the event's 2nd most total kills (212) and was by far the best entry killer (0.20 entry kills per round), making him by most accounts the main reason Epsilon made it that far. He also had the 2nd most AWP kills with 70.
"I have always loved using the AWP, but the role of an awper doesn't fit me, I'm not a guy that likes to hold angles and just take defensive peaks, but my reflexes are still pretty good so I started to use the AWP as a rifle, and that surprised everyone a lot I would say. I wouldn't rate myself better than kennyS or GuardiaN etc, but the way I play the AWP is just different and new I think."
Not long after DH Summer the team added Andreas "MODDII" Fridh, and then in August joined fnatic, which would finally enable them to attend other events aside from the ones in close proximity to Sweden.
Starting slowly online in the new organization, they would beat Astana Dragons and qualify for Mad Catz Cologne final on LAN, but there VeryGames proved to be much stronger (8-16, 5-16).
After another LAN loss at TECHLABS Cup Kiev, this time to Astana Dragons (7-16, 16-11, 5-16), fnatic would finally have their real debut at DreamHack Bucharest. And it would start brilliantly, with a win over NiP on overtime (19-17) to finish 1st in their group, albeit after some controversy.
fnatic celebrating their first victory over NiP
But despite showing promise in that match, the team wound up underperform against another set of Swedes, Lemondogs in the quarter-final, finishing 5th-8th.
Wecksell himself had a solid tournament overall, especially in the match against NiP (29:23, 1.19 rating, 11 AWP kills, 6 entry kills) and was again among the best entry killers of the tournament.
After Romania, fnatic would travel to Kiev, Ukraine for SLTV StarSeries VII Finals, but this would end up being Wecksell's worst event of the year. In spite of that, the team put up a solid fight against both Astana Dragons (16-9, 10-16, 14-16) and NiP (11-16, 12-16), but still ended up in last place.
Continuing their busy schedule, next up was Cologne, Germany and RaidCall EMS One Fall Finals. This time Wecksell would play well in every match, especially in the overtime loss to VeryGames (32:25, 1.24 rating), but the team would fail to make it out of the group after also losing to Copenhagen Wolves.
A few days later at ESWC, they would top their group after defeating Astana Dragons on stage 16-12, but once again VeryGames edged them out, this time in the quarter-final (16-10, 2-16, 14-16).
Something was obviously missing with all those close losses getting them knocked out of tournaments too early for their liking, so the team decided to bring on Markus "pronax" Wallsten to become their in-game leader.
fnatic at MSI Beat it in Beijing, China
Without much time to prepare, the new lineup traveled to China for the MSI Beat it Grand Finals. Wecksell had what was probably his best map of the year in the group stage win over SK Gaming (34:13, 1.83 rating, 16 AWP kills), but they were still unable to beat VeryGames in the grand final (11-16, 12-16).
"Going to china was pretty huge, it felt very cool to travel so far for a tournament and I think I learned a lot from it, mostly because it was a tournament where u had to switch place on a few times. I'm not so used to that and I don't really like it, but we had to move up and down from the stage like 2 times and I think that helped me a lot.
VG have always been the worst team to play versus for us, but with pronax it felt different, it actually felt like we had some control of the game. But when shoxie goes mental and acec 2 pistol rounds on the same map there's not much to do, but it definitely felt like we were closer that time."
Mere three days later, fnatic was already at DreamHack Winter, battling for their share of the $250,000 prize pool. From the very start, things went fnatic's way, defeating Natus Vincere 16-9 and Clan-Mystik 16-6 to top their group, and then beating Recursive in the quarter-final (16-9, 13-16, 16-10). Wecksell was displaying similar kind of performances as at the previous DreamHack event, especially at the start of the playoffs when he put in a Man of the Match performance against the Frenchmen (77:55, 1.34 rating, 19 entry kills).
JW & co. really enjoy the DreamHack events
But they didn't stop there, as next in their way were the other surprising semi-finalists, compLexity. Fnatic made the match look too easy for them, winning 16-7, 16-7, and they moved on to another grand final in the DreamArena Extreme.
Still, on the other side it was the powerhouse NiP, who had just defeated VeryGames, and the young Swedes weren't given good odds to beat them. But helped by another Man of the Match performance from Wecksell, fnatic shocked the world and triumphed at the biggest of stages (16-14, 6-16, 16-2).
"I must pick Dreamhack Winter [for my best memory], which was the biggest CSGO tournament and I think no one would ever expect us to even be in the finals, and once we reached the finals people flamed us for getting the easier bracket which I agree on, we got the easier bracket.
But when we won in the final I believe we proved to everyone that we were not only there by luck, we were there by hard work and we also proved to ourselves that anything is possible, we can do stuff like this, which is something I think will be very important going into 2014 for us.
Of course people can say it was not worthy because we added pronax pretty close to the event, but if you look at the year overall, I have played the whole 2013 without a single break, most of us did."
fnatic with the $100,000 cheque at DH Winter
With a 59:49 score in the final (1.16 rating and 11 entry kills) Wecksell made a big contribution to the winning of his first big trophy, but even more than that, he put in an MVP-worthy performance overall in the tournament. He finished as the best rated player (1.26 rating), the best fragger (0.87 kills per round) and once again the best entry killer (0.19 entry kills per round), outmatching what he previously did at DreamHack Summer.
"I think you can say that the events were more or less equal, if this event (DH Winter) was closer to DH Summer, it would have been a lot harder, because after DH Summer people expected stuff from us, which we were not too ready for I would say. People started to watch demos of us and were prepared for what we do, so after a few months with not so good results, they stopped watching our demos because they did not see us as a threat anymore.
And back at Dreamhack Summer flusha was the IGL and we were somewhat a mix, he let me do whatever I wanted to do, this was pretty much the case here on DH Winter as well, I got a very free role with pronax, that is when I can reach my full potential I think."
The young Swedish player had come from being called an onliner and a cheater less than a year before that, to put in his best performance at the biggest event in Counter-Strike history, and he says he owes that to hard work more than anything else.
"I took a break from school because I was just tired and needed a year off more or less, and during that time I played a lot of CS. This was in the end of 1.6 which then pretty much died because CSGO came out, and I had around 8 months left without school so I decided to give it my all in CSGO, and try to get as good as possible and see how far I could come.
I think that a big reason for me getting so good so fast was because I just kept playing, I never went on a break, not even for 3 days. I think I played pretty much every single day, but also I enjoy the game a lot, I really have fun while playing it which makes you get better a lot faster I would say.
And after getting 2nd place at DreamHack I think a lot of players would be satisfied and play less because they feel they are good enough already, but I got more motivated and played even more."
It's obvious that no one will ever take this fnatic squad for granted again, so 2014 will be a challenging year for Wecksell and co.
"The next step is to keep improving and show the people that this was not just a fluke. As a team we need to improve and become stable, at the moment we have the potential to win against any top team, but we can also lose to anyone. If we keep giving everything I expect us to be top 3.
And individually I have a big decision to make, either I will reroll to main AWP, or I will continue with what I do now." – about team and individual expectations, and things they can improve on in 2014
Why is he the 8th best player in 2013?
At the start of 2013, Wecksell was just a disputed 17-year-old who had to prove to the world that he is not a cheater or an "onliner". He only attended his first big tournament in March, but then skyrocketed to become one of the stars with an amazing performance at DreamHack Summer.
There he led Epsilon to 2nd place, but it would be an MVP-worthy performance at the biggest event of the year, DreamHack Winter, when he pushed fnatic to win the biggest prize in CS history, that would cement his place in the record books.
But it wasn't only performances at those two tournaments that brought him to the 8th place of our ranking, it was also the fact that there was no one else who made that many entry kills on average (0.17 per round). And furthermore, it was the fact that he made at least one kill in 68% of his teams' round-wins, more than any other player, making his influence on Epsilon's and fnatic's success even more apparent.
Like his teammate Rönnquist, Weckless also predicted his former Norwegian teammate from the gosu days and from DreamHack Summer as the rising star of 2014.
Martin "cENTRYZ" Brandal
"I have to say cENTRYZ, it's a shame that a player of his caliber can't get a good team, it all depends on if he can get a good team. If he finds a good team, I can't imagine him not being on the next year's top20 list."
What did you make of Jesper "JW" Wecksell's 2013? Is the 8th place the right one for him?
With almost two thirds of the list behind us now, there are only seven of the very best players remaining! Stay tuned to HLTV.org for the conclusion of our Top 20 of 2013 ranking by eSportsventure.com.