Top 20 players of 2014: JW (5)
Jesper "JW" Wecksell gets the 5th place on our Top 20 players of 2014 ranking presented by Xtrfy. His aggressive style was one of the keys to fnatic's success in the second half of the year, and he particularly stood out in big matches.
Jesper "JW" Wecksell had a breakthrough year in 2013 when he first started playing in international events, and that culminated with an MVP performance and triumph at the biggest tournament in CS history until that point, DreamHack Winter.
He ended up 8th on our Top 20 players of 2013 ranking, where we described some of his history which started with CS 1.6 in 2009 when he was 14 years old. He never managed to go up the ladder until CS:GO came out and he formed the Epsilon squad with two old friends, Andreas "znajder" Lindberg and Robin "flusha" Rönnquist.
Following their big win at DreamHack Winter, fnatic still weren't considered the best in the world, but expectations were higher nevertheless.
The first event they attended in 2014 was DreamHack Stockholm where the young Swedes had the chance to prove their worth against NiP, Titan and dignitas.
After a great start with a 16-5 win over the Danish squad, they lost to both Titan and NiP and finished third in the mini-tournament.
That was the only event for them between the two majors, as next up was the task of defending the $100,000 title at EMS One Katowice.
But right in the first match things went wrong for fnatic – they lost to Danes of Reason 12-16. JW didn't play well in that loss, but he made up for it in the iBUYPOWER clash where he was the Man of the Match (24:17, 1.21 rating, VOD).
They went on to win easily against Reason in the re-match for second place in the group, and then a big battle against LGB followed in the quarter-final.
JW on stage in Katowice ahead of the LGB clash
The reigning major champions won the first map, but ended up losing the series with a 14-16 nail-biter on the third map. JW had a solid showing, especially on that third map where he ended up top fragging (27:21, 1.21 rating), but it was not enough.
He ended up with another average tournament performance (1.01 rating) as again third ranked in the team.
Next up was Copenhagen Games, the event where JW and the majority of the fnatic team first turned heads the year before under the Epsilon banner.
Going into it this time the Swedes were considered fourth in the world according to our April ranking, mainly thanks to their DH Winter success, but they failed to deliver on the expectations once again.
After defeating Casper "cadiaN" Møller's tRICKED and Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi's Publiclir, fnatic faced dignitas and were involved in another extremely close quarter-final series, but ended up losing 20-22, 16-19.
JW was solid in this big battle, having scored a kill in 52% of rounds, including an incredible 19 entry kills (14 of which led to a round win).
Coupled with the great play in the first two series, he ended up with a 1.16 tournament rating, second in the team. But in fact he was their best fragger and the one who contributed the most in rounds the Swedes won (kill or assist in 80%).
With two 5th-8th finishes in a row, fnatic's stature was dropping fast so they needed a good result at DreamHack Summer, the event where four of them made their name the year before with a second place finish.
DreamHack Summer was fnatic's low point of the year
But instead they dropped out in the group stage, losing to SK two times. JW was in fact the team's best in those matches against Faruk "pita" Pita's squad (mini-highlight reel), although he ended up 2nd overall with a 1.10 rating due to not dominating against LC in their only win.
After another disappointing finish, the team had to put a stop to the downswing spiral, so changes were in store. Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg decided to move into a coaching position and znajder was given his marching orders, while two new faces were brought in from the former LGB squad – Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer and Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson.
Their first event was already an improvement – a semi-final finish at Gfinity 3 after an almost perfect group stage.
JW actually had his worst frag production of the year on this occasion, scoring only 0.70 kills per round at the event for a 1.01 rating, but he was still third best in the team and even second in the rounds they won.
JW's two highlights vs. Titan in the semi-final of Gfinity 3
ESL One Cologne was just two weeks away so the new squad had to adapt quickly. They kicked off the big tournament with a win over iBUYPOWER, and then even secured the first place of the group by taking down previous major champions Virtus.pro.
JW wasn't spectacular right from the start, but he did step it up in the second half against the Poles as they made their comeback and won on overtime, ending up with 27:24 (1.12 rating and 23:13 from second half onwards, POV).
He was even better in the quarter-final series against Na`Vi, which resembled their battle with LGB in Katowice as it came down to the last round on map three, as he was shared top fragger for fnatic.
1-on-3 clutch against Na`Vi in the quarter-final of ESL One Cologne
He didn't make as much impact against dignitas, but he was the one who had a kill or assist the most often in that semi-final series – 63% of rounds.
The grand final against NiP followed and JW was back in the driving seat in the big match. After being unable to make much impact on map one Cobblestone, he was on the top of his game on the second map Cache as the Man of the Match (22:13, 1.48 rating, 5 entry kills, CT side POV).
He then did a good job in the first half of the all-deciding map three, putting up 20 kils (POV), but NiP managed to turn it around and grab the title instead.
JW had great impact throughout ESL One Cologne playoffs
Slowly but surely the new roster had been improving, and they finally grabbed their first tournament victory at SLTV StarSeries X Finals, taking down Natus Vincere in the final.
JW had one of his best events in terms of consistent contribution, getting a kill, assist or surviving in 74.4% of rounds. It was largely due to his never-higher assist count of 0.25 per round, which was partly a result of his more aggressive play – he was involved in 36% of entry duels and won half of them.
Nevertheless, he did score 0.80 kills per round as well, and with a couple of Man of the Match performances, one of which came against Na`Vi in the upper final (28:14, 1.65 rating, POV), he helped fnatic clinch their first title of the year.
JW himself played even better at their next event, DreamHack Stockholm #2, recording his year-high 1.31 rating and even getting what was later selected as the highlight of the year in the semi-final against Titan:
Highlight of the year by JW at DH Stockholm #2
Despite that and another amazing ace against the French team, and his overall great play, the team lost quite convincingly 11-16, 1-16.
They were back to winning ways at FACEIT Season 2 Finals where they disposed of Virtus.pro in the semis and iBUYPOWER in the grand final.
JW continued playing in great form, even though he was only third by rating in the team with 1.16, he was the one making the most impact in the rounds they won (63.8% with a kill, 23% with an entry kill).
His performance against Virtus.pro was particularly impressive as he topped the charts with 44:23 (1.43 rating, 10:3 entry score, map 2 CT side POV).
Coupled with more great play against the Poles at the same stage at their next event, semi-final at ESWC, it prompted Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski to state that "JW is the best in the world" at that moment.
fnatic with the ESWC trophy
JW was indeed playing great at the French event as well, especially in the grand final against LDLC which he finished with a 42:34 score (1.16 rating, 12 entry kills), but he was again trailing his teammates who were playing at an even higher level, this time KRIMZ and olofmeister.
Nevertheless, he was an important part of their third title win there with his year-high 0.20 entry kills per round, and he was also crucial during the fourth win at Fragbite Masters Season 3 Finals a week later.
It was perhaps his best performance of the year, at least during a triumphant campaign, as he finished with 0.83 kills per round and a 1.25 rating.
And once again he excelled against LDLC in the grand final – 108:74 score in the four maps (1.43 rating, 20:14 entry score, 2 aces). Even though he wasn't the best rated on any of those maps, he was the one who made the most impact in the match, scoring a kill 73% of fnatic's round wins.
AWP ace vs. LDLC in the grand final of Fragbite Masters 3
Fnatic's great play and triumphs in October and November made them the main favorites going into the final major of the year, DreamHack Winter. However, cheating accusations were thrown at them while they were preparing for the event, so they went into it under an even bigger spotlight.
They ran into trouble in the group stage against HellRaisers and lost 14-16, but made it out in 2nd place after a convincing win against Cloud9, 16-5.
Then more issues arose in the quarter-final match against LDLC. Fnatic used an illegal boost to come back and win map three, and even though they were about to replay it on the next day, the young squad decided it's best to forfeit due to community pressure.
Until that JW was looking to be in great shape yet again – he was the only one putting up resistance in the HellRaisers loss, played well against both Cloud9 and Bravado, and was solid in the one map fnatic managed to take against LDLC.
DreamHack Winter was a memorable event for fnatic, but for the wrong reasons
In the end he had his best rating out of the three majors of the year, 1.21, and was the one making the most happen for fnatic with a kill in 68% of their round wins.
Even though the team contemplated their fate after the infamous ending to DreamHack Winter, they had one more event to attend at the end of the year – ESEA Season 17 Global Finals.
After day one when they struggled to defeat a wounded Titan and even lost to Virtus.pro for the first time with the new lineup, fnatic came back on day two and swept their opponents to win their fifth title.
In the upper final, JW for the first time in a while wasn't very effective against the Poles, but he made up for it in the grand final when he played well in all four maps – ending up as the top fragger of the final with 97:84 (1.15 rating, a kill in 70.3% of round wins).
His overall event rating was an unimpressive 1.08 due to the first Virtus series and some struggles against Titan, but he contributed by far the most in fnatic's round wins – in 69.8% of them he had a kill and 28.2% of them an entry kill, therefore earning a claim for the tournament MVP.
Why is he the 5th best player of 2014?
Jesper "JW" Wecksell was one of the most important players for one of the most successful teams of the year. As fnatic made their title winning run, he was always one of the key members, whether with good performances throughout the event or at least in the big matches.
He also played well at every other tournament he attended in 2014, and was one of his team's best players at each of them as well.
JW didn't find much success in the first half of the year with the old lineup, but he caught up with the rest in the second half when the new fnatic lineup was formed.
He boasts five titles from 2014, a second place at a major – ESL One Cologne, and three bronze finishes. That makes a total of 9 podium placements for the 19-year-old.
While he was rarely the main star of fnatic throughout their big runs, with someone else always stepping up to grab the MVP title, he was more often than not the one making the most difference in the rounds they won.
JW impressed in big matches
More importantly, he was the team's best player in big matches (last three of a tournament) with a 1.13 rating, which actually ranks 1st among those who played over 20 maps. Good examples of that include his play against LDLC in the final of ESWC and Fragbite Masters, or Virtus.pro at ESEA Season 17, as well as a few semi-final occasions against the Poles.
His entry killing was also on point when it mattered most, as no one scored most first kills than him – just like throughout the year – 0.17 per round. And just how important that is for fnatic is seen by the fact that over a quarter of their round wins come after his entry kill.
Overall he was actually far more efficient on the CT side where he had a 1.35 rating (ranks 5th), as opposed to 0.88 on the Terrorist side (24th).
However, he did get the 2nd most entry kills on the T-side (0.13 per round) and was involved in by far the most entry duels (30.4%).
Other than that he was also the 4th best fragger in terms of kills per round overall (0.78) and 4th best in pistol rounds (1.25 rating).
Perhaps surprisingly, he was one of the most consistent players in terms of getting a rating above 1.00 in a map, which he did on 74% of occasions (3rd most). In addition to stemming from fnatic's success, that stat also comes as a result of the fact that he very rarely underperformed even with the previous lineup.
In the end he was placed 5th due to his big contribution to fnatic's success, the impressive entry killing, and most importantly his superb play in big matches.
What is your take on Jesper "JW" Wecksell's performance in 2014? Is the 5th place the right one for him?