Epsilon have made it into our top 20 ranking since founding duo William "draken" Sundin and Frederik "REZ" Sterner made their apparition in the scene by qualifying for the PGL Minor in Bucharest earlier this year, and they have been consistently climbing since. Here is how they did it.
The first we heard of William "draken" Sundin and Fredrik "REZ" Sterner was on January 6th of this year, when an unknown Scandinavian mix under the name CG (short for Cringe Gods) qualified for PGL’s European Minor in Bucharest, the first of its kind, after beating Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný’s HellRaisers in the final match of the qualifiers. The Czech-Slovkian-Ukranian side would go on to qualify for the Minor a day later, and would then win the LAN earning themselves a spot at the MLG Major Qualifier in Columbus.
CG's team at the time of the offline qualifier featured Andreas "mOkEn" Karlsson, draken, REZ, and the Danish duo consisting of Christian "rezex" Bjerregaard and Stephen "S1ck" Hvam. The latter, however, never made it to the Minor and has since fallen off the radar, while the former has been grinding in the Danish scene. Brought in to replace S1ck in Bucharest was Finnish in-game leader Jesse "zehN" Linjala, who had previously been seen playing for ajuri.
At the Minor CG lost their opening match to E-frag.net, but then sent LDLC White home early—a team with the likes of Timothée "DEVIL" Démolon and Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro in its ranks. They eventually lost to PENTA but were praised by Kevin "kRYSTAL" Amend, who expressed his hope in seeing the youngsters stick around in the future. The loss to PENTA was particularly tough, as they lost after giving up a steady lead in the last map, something the team chalked up to inexperience and prompting Epsilon to want to seek more leadership in the future.
Unbeknownst to CG, this was the beginning of a rivalry
After all, CG had started their journey humbly as a pugging dream team comprised of a rag tag group of skilled players that while green and unprepared were glimmering roughs waiting to be polished, particularly draken the star AWPer who turned heads playing online and then proved he could replicate it offline as well—as can now be seen by his team high 1.13 offline rating. draken was considered a Valuable Player by HLTV for CG at the Minor, where he was joined by zehN and 18 year old youngster REZ.
After what was unanimously praised as a solid LAN debut for a bunch of unproven players, a rift tore through the team ending up in mOkEn, draken, and REZ deciding they wanted to play in an all-Swedish lineup due to language issues and personalities clashing. One day later, on February 9th, CG announced the signing of Fredrik "freddieb" Buö and FPL sensation Joakim "disco doplan" Gidetun, both having connected previously with draken during their time together in Aftermatch.
With their roster renewed and under the banner of Epsilon, where the relationship between the players and the organization is like family according to REZ, the team went on to play the BYOC qualifier at Copenhagen Games, which the Swedes managed to plow through easily by beating a handful of local Danish teams. The CPH Games tournament itself wasn’t as easy, though, as a single best-of-one victory against Alpha—where ex-teammate rezex was plying his trade at the time—sandwiched between two best-of-one losses to E-frag.net meant the Swedes were out.
First appearance for Disco Doplan and the last for mOkEn at CPH Games
Not long after it would be time for mOkEn to be replaced as too many individual players were hurting the overall team chemistry according draken, despite him going on to praise the cut member of the team as a great player. The spot finally went to Jerry "xelos" Råberg, who after playing for months with the team would be officially announced as the fifth and final member on June 1st of this year. He was initially brought in as an in-game leader, but as things stand currently some changes are planned regarding the team’s leadership in the near future.
xelos is also the most experienced player at 23 years old. Recalling the very early days of the game, xelos played for Epsilon in 2013 with Jesper "JW" Wecksell, Robin "flusha" Rönnquist, and Andreas "znajder" Lindberg. Since then, though, he dropped off considerably amidst controversy over an ESL cheating ban, playing in the basement of Swedish CS for organizations like WRTT, AliGon, Property, Publiclir.se, or Lemondogs, the last of which he played the PGL Minor with where he tallied a Valuable Player performance, the same distinction garnered by his new teammates draken and REZ as mentioned earlier.
Soon after, Epsilon would play their second Minor, this time at DreamHack Tours. They lost their first match against Dignitas, 16-11 on Overpass, but were able to bounce back against the Swedish-Danish lineup of SK by winning a 30 round nail biter, again on Overpass. Their bête noire, Orbit, who beat CG in Bucharest and knocked Null element out of CPH Games would once again make an appearance spoiling Epsilon’s party in a three map decider match, again sending the Swedes home empty handed.
Epsilon were still quite unready for top tier play at DH Summer
Epsilon then played in front of a local crowd at DreamHack Summer in Jönköping. Somewhat unluckily, though, they played and lost twice to the even more crowd-pleasing NiP, including the best-of-three decider which meant the youngsters would miss the playoffs. Epsilon did however manage to knock a struggling HellRaisers out 2-0 before falling, showing there was still room to grow.
Epsilon were then invited to attend the Pro Gamer League 2016 Summer Finals in Wuhan, China. The event organizers were late in getting their invitations out, which prompted some teams to refuse the invitations due to tight schedules while others did so out of shear weariness. The end result, though, was Epsilon and X in the best-of-five grand final over all the Chinese teams, with the former winning 3-0 to take gold for the very first time. “Of course it felt really good,” said REZ when inquired about how it felt to win their first bigger event, “but I still don’t see it as that big of an achievement, we want much more.”
Their last mid-tier tournament thus far has been ASUS ROG Summer 2016 in Helsinki, Finland, where Epsilon were compared to a mini fnatic at the desk during the weekend. In line with the analogy, Epsilon had a shaky start by losing to France’s black sheep team Millenium, and barely scraping by Escape 2-1 in the decider match. However, while our Swedish heroes were able to turn it around by making it to the finals—as fnatic would late in a tournament—after beating hometown favorites ENCE, ultimately Space Soldiers proved too much to handle for the young Swedes, with a particularly inspired Ahmet "paz" Karahoca and the ubiquitous Ismailcan "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş sealing the deal in dominating fashion two maps to none.
Though partly a fluke, Epsilon got to lift a trophy in the first half of 2016
This first half of the year has been nothing but up for Epsilon, and while there have been some trials and tribulations, the team has finally broken into our top 20 list for the first time. Epsilon ground their way to the 20th position at the beginning of the month, and climbed one spot this week.
“We are very young and still a new team to the scene, and we need to practice more. Hopefully that will come after the summer!” says REZ. And practice they must, as their upcoming goal is qualifying for the next major, “which now will take place in January, so we have some time to practice for it.”
Their recipe for success is to “go into every match as a team and work together, tackle the obstacles and problems together as a family. Try communicating as much as possible and see each other outside of the game more often to be able to improve the chemistry between each player. You shouldn’t give up easy, because you can’t win every single game,” say REZ and draken.
Having had such an ascent—and particularly having seemingly appeared out of thin air—it is quite easy to bill Epsilon as the poster children for Valve’s Minor system, and perhaps more importantly it is to note that they are a clear indicator that if done right it is indeed possible to explode into the scene. What will be interesting to see now is whether Epsilon will be able to push it to the next level and actually hang or not, and if so how fast can they achieve it.
* By rolling the cursor over most team names in the text, chronologically accurate lineups will show up.