What's next for disco doplan?
Joakim "disco doplan" Gidetun was the darling of the Swedish scene in 2016, garnering interest from both of the country’s top teams during his time in Epsilon, but after a short failed stint with fnatic that year he has since found himself trying to grind his way back to the top.
“It all started with most of us playing a lot of FACEIT together. Mostly draken, mOkEn, freddieb and me," disco doplan says of time before signing with CG. "draken, mOkEn and REZ played the first European Minor at the time with zehN and rezex, but then freddieb and I basically said we should make a Swedish team instead, which we did a week or two after the Minor ended.”
Appearing seemingly out of thin air, that team of young Swedish players went on to make a name for themselves in a short period of time under the Epsilon banner. They qualified for Copenhagen Games through the BYOC event in their first LAN together and then competed at the DreamHack Regional Minor Championship in Tours. They also showed their prowess online, making it through the DreamHack Open Summer qualifier to book a ticket to the main event, where they lost a close two-map series on stage against local favorites NiP. Epsilon's biggest win came shortly afterward, at the Pro Gamer League 2016 Summer Finals in Wuhan, China, where they swept Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander and Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså’s X in the best-of-five final, which disco doplan ended with a series-high 1.34 rating.
Epsilon kept showing potential against teams in their weight class, coming second at ASUS ROG Summer 2016 in Helsinki, Finland, where they lost the final to Space Soldiers after beating ENCE in the semi-finals. By that time, disco doplan was already turning heads, and NiP gave him a shot as a stand-in during the fourth season of ESL Pro League while Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi recovered from a hand injury. "It was a stand-in offer with a possible permanent spot after that, I believe, "disco doplan tells HLTV.org. "The stand-in period would’ve been a few months, but it wasn’t possible since I was already under contract with Epsilon, so they went with Maikelele instead."
Epsilon had gone from being a group of five relatively unknown players to a team inside the top 20 and with an international title —albeit a small one—, and although they weren’t quite good enough to rub shoulders with the best in the world yet, they were getting noticed and making constant progress. That summer, fnatic, who had won six consecutive international events between November and March 2019, fell from the top of the world ranking after not being able to collect a trophy in four months, sending shockwaves through the Swedish scene as Jesper "JW" Wecksell, Robin "flusha" Rönnquist and Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson were transferred to GODSENT, while Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer and Dennis "dennis" Edman stayed in the Black and Orange with Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson, Simon "twist" Eliasson and John "wenton" Eriksson.
Neither of the two teams lived up to expectations, however, and just two months later KRIMZ was sent back to fnatic in a deal that saw Lekr0 move in the opposite direction. Still struggling, fnatic decided another change was in order, this time reaching out to disco doplan to see if he would be interested in joining the team in place of the struggling wenton. The offer was too good for disco doplan to pass up, but the move was turbulent.
“The timing [of it] was pretty bad since we were going to ESWC less than a week after they asked, and the week after ESWC we had the Minor," disco doplan explains. "The decision to leave my friends was really hard, but at the same time it was an offer I really couldn’t say no to. I learned that Epsilon had basically told fnatic that I was staying, and at that point, chrille, BARBARR and I let the team know what the situation was and that I was most likely not going to leave, but they all told the management that it would be best to sell me if I wanted to go because of the opportunity I was being offered. The players and the coach were probably the biggest reason the organization ended up budging."
Epsilon returned to Belgium after a disappointing 5-8th place at ESWC for a few days before heading to Romania for the Minor, with disco doplan’s future still hanging in the balance. "We boarded the flight to Bucharest and I was expecting to play the Minor no matter what," he says. "But when we landed in Romania I was told that I had been sold and it was going to be officially announced the next day, so once we knew it was a done deal we went out and had some drinks together to say goodbye. I was sitting at the airport in Berlin the next day, waiting for my connecting flight home, and that’s when my move to fnatic was made public.
"The negotiations absolutely took a toll on me," disco doplan adds, "mostly because I had no idea what was going to happen. If I didn’t end up going to fnatic, then the Epsilon guys would’ve probably lost a lot of trust in me knowing I would accept an offer and leave them if I got the chance. None of us knew if I was going to fnatic or not and at that point, the team had to find a stand-in within a day in order to even be able to play the Minor."
disco doplan inked his breakthrough deal and was now officially in the big leagues, but the ride remained bumpy as dennis stepped away from fnatic momentarily and they had to play their first LAN together, ELEAGUE Season 2, with coach Jimmy "Jumpy" Berndtsson, finishing in 9th-12th place. Things went poorly online as well as the team went out last in ECS Season 2 with a 7-11 record.
After the turn of the year, it seemed as though fnatic were starting to find their footing, finishing top four in the DreamHack Masters Las Vegas closed qualifier to earn a spot at the $450,000 event. They followed it up with a strong showing at the first Major of the year, in Atlanta, where they beat the likes of North, mousesports, Envy and Gambit before losing to the tournament's champions, Astralis, in the semi-finals.
Despite qualifying for a Big Event and reaching the semi-finals of a Major, fnatic were still set on undoing the summer shuffle and bringing the old roster back together. "Right before the Christmas break, I was told fnatic had already decided to revert to their old lineup,” disco doplan says. "We had managed to qualify for DreamHack Las Vegas as well as place top 4 in the Major without practice and knowing we weren’t going to play together after the Major."
disco doplan was then transferred to GODSENT alongside twist as part of a trade for JW and flusha. By then, his individual level had taken a hit after he had been forced to adapt his playstyle to assist fnatic’s superstars. "Not playing the positions I was used to affected me a lot," he says, "but at the same time, I wasn’t taking any freedom because I thought we’d do better if I just supported the star players. It’s hard to say, but I believe with a little bit more time and experience I could’ve put up much better numbers and I can’t say what’s fair and what’s not, but with more time and trust I think we could’ve had a lot of good results."
Looking back, disco doplan sees his time in fnatic as a mostly negative chapter in his career. "It probably was a little bit early [to leave Epsilon], but at the same time, I didn’t really get the chance to prove myself," he says. "Staying with Epsilon for a while longer would have probably been the best option, but at the same time I got an offer that most would have probably accepted."
He eventually linked up with Fredrik "freddieb" Buö and was joined by a burgeoning star in Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin as some of the veterans on GODSENT made way for new players. “[The changes] were a result of inconsistency, not just the loss to Immortals in the PGL Major Krakow Main Qualifier," disco doplan says. "After that, we went to DreamHack Open Atlanta with a stand-in and had some rough results as well. We felt like we needed to change something and I don’t remember exactly how it went but it ended up with us replacing pronax. At the same time, Lekr0 went to fnatic. We started playing with dennis and freddieb, and we tried to get REZ, but he decided to go to NiP instead."
disco doplan went on to win the QI Invitational in Belgrade, Serbia, with the renewed GODSENT roster, which he holds as one of his most cherished memories, but the team lost its organizational backing and was transferred away not long after that. "Red Reserve didn’t have the money to pay a salary and Ancient was just us playing while we tried to find an organization," disco doplan says of the time after GODSENT. "When we started with Red Reserve, we were decent, but at the same time we weren’t contending with the top teams, so we started having some internal issues and when Brollan and twist went to fnatic it was more or less just a downward spiral.”
Despite not being able to earn a living during his time in Ancient, the reunion of the old Epsilon core, consisting of William "draken" Sundin, freddieb and disco doplan, with André "BARBARR" Möller coaching and an up-and-coming youngster in Nicolas "Plopski" Gonzalez Zamora, was a promising one. "We started having pretty good results when we qualified for the Minor in Berlin and placed second at Dreamhack Summer," disco doplan says, "but as a trend, Plopski got an offer from NiP before DreamHack, which he accepted after the tournament." Denis "grux" Gutaj was brought on as a last-minute stand-in for the Minor, but Ancient finished in a disappointing 7-8th place and never recovered, going on to disband a month later.
"I took a three-month break because I felt a very heavy burnout from the past years," disco doplan says. "But I thought what I still think now, which is that I just have to keep playing, and play better, like I know I can." Not afraid to change things up, he went international and joined SMASH as the headline name of a team with players from four different countries.
“I was playing other games at the time, but I never thought of retiring from CS because I knew I had more to give, all I needed was a little bit more motivation," he says. "I had already played with most Swedish players and I didn’t believe a top Swedish team would make changes, and if they did it would be for a new, young, talented player, so it would only make sense for me to try something new. I started playing again after some talks to create a new lineup, although that didn’t work out and I went in a different direction a few weeks later when I got the offer to play with SMASH."
SMASH’s biggest achievement came in the last of the four open qualifiers for the Europe Minor in Rio, when they beat Complexity to secure a spot in the closed qualifier. Soon after failing to make the Minor following losses to fnatic and Movistar Riders, the team lost Sebastian "NEEX" Trela, who believed they weren't making progress, prompting disco doplan to take action. "We decided that I would try the IGL role because our results were very inconsistent and nobody was really comfortable with the way we were playing at the time," he explains. "The switch was a little bit rough at the start because three players were changing roles and we added a new player, so we more or less had to start from scratch to get everyone comfortable."
Midway through 2020, SMASH's management and the players couldn't come to terms over contract renewals, which ended in the team losing the organization’s backing. Unable to put up convincing enough results in the following month, the project started to lose steam, and the squad eventually disbanded ahead of the player break in July.
"I’m thinking about all options now," disco doplan says. "Playing in an international team and speaking English would be no problem since I’ve grown so used to it during the past seven-and-a-half months, although playing on a team in which I could speak my native language again would be nice. All in all, it really doesn’t matter to me. Right now I’m just working towards being a better IGL and bringing my team as close as I can to becoming consistent, making fewer mistakes, and just making better decisions and playing better and more together."
His most immediate challenge, he adds, "is to find a team with grux that shares the same vision we have". With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, it’s a bad time to think about LAN events, but with his last offline tournament dating back a year now, disco doplan is itching to get back. "I’m looking forward to competing on LAN again," he says, "especially since I switched to the IGL role back in April. My goal is and will always be to compete at the top, and that’s everything I’m trying to work [towards] for now."
Reflecting on his journey, disco doplan admits that it "has been a little bit unfortunate at times", but he is not one for self-pity; he also says that he "could have done more to make my career better". He doesn’t think particularly highly of what could be considered some of the peaks in his career, like standing in for NiP during a successful Pro League campaign or reaching the semi-finals of a Major with fnatic. Instead, he cherishes some of the smaller achievements he attained with his other teams."In Epsilon and GODSENT, I achieved things with the team, while playing in NiP I was just a stand-in and in fnatic it felt forced because of the Major rules. I think they would’ve played with flusha and JW if they had the chance."
“I don’t really talk to my old teammates," disco doplan says when asked to think back to the Epsilon days and how the players from the team have since fared, "the only one that I feel things are still going very well for is REZ — he has been in NiP for a long time. BARBARR is still coaching, draken has switched his focus to VALORANT, freddieb has quit. I'm still grinding, hoping for the best, I guess."