Swedish AWPer William ‘draken’ Sundin discusses returning to CS:GO after a Valorant stint, and learning from his past mistakes, in an exclusive interview with Dexerto.
If there’s anything that has defined draken’s CS:GO career, it’s the shots that he has missed.
At the height of his powers, when he played for NIP and fnatic in 2017 and 2018, draken was capable of pulling off the most ridiculous of flicks — think of his 1v2 clutch against Gambit that left teammate Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund in awe. But at the same time, his proneness to whiff the easiest of sitters became a running gag in the scene and a stick to beat him with by casters and analysts.
“I’m really heaven or hell,” he told theScore esports in 2020. “Some shots are really f**king sick but some shots I can really miss and it looks really bad.
“Everyone misses shots, but I guess I’m just the one who got the 30-degree meme.”
Unable to reach the level of consistency required to compete at the highest level, draken saw his career fizzle out. In 2020, he switched to Valorant — the place where a number of CS:GO players have gone when they started fading into the background.
But almost two years on, draken is back in CS:GO with a ragtag group of Swedish players. It begs the question: Is this the start of his redemption story?
Bouncing back in a new setting
In Valorant, draken was able to start afresh. He took part in some of the earliest invitational tournaments in Europe and was even named the MVP of the G2 Esports Invitational. In October 2020, he and the rest of his Bonk squad were signed by British organization Guild Esports.
The Swedish team, coached by his former CS:GO teammate André ‘BARBARR’ Möller, didn’t make it to any of the international LANs that Riot Games hosted in 2021 but were still a considerable force in Europe. They placed 3rd-4th in the VCT Stage 1 Masters, 5th-6th in the Stage 2 Challengers Finals, and 7th-8th in the Stage 3 Challengers Playoffs.
Just before the end of the year, they were one victory away from securing a spot at Valorant Champions but lost out to Team Liquid in the grand final of the last-chance qualifier after beating G2 Esports and three Turkish teams.
“Valorant is a great game, and I feel that I have grown a lot,” he told Dexerto. “Before Valorant, I always played the main AWP role, but here I was tested outside of my comfort zone.
“I played a more supportive role, and that really helped me understand small details in competitive games that I didn’t think about before.
“A team needs to work like clockwork. Everyone needs to be on the same page and know their specific tasks to succeed. And, of course, believing in your teammates is one of the most important things.”
The ensuing offseason brought a wide sweep of changes to Guild, who moved on from Yacine ‘Yacine’ Laghmari, Malkolm ‘Bonkar’ Rench, and draken as part of their rebuilding strategy.
Yacine and Bonkar have since built a new team, called YONK, who are closed to signing with London-based organization Tundra Esports.
Draken, too, could have continued his Valorant career, and there certainly wasn’t a shortage of suitors after him. But that prospect wasn’t nearly as alluring as finishing what he had started in CS:GO. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and draken’s time away from CS:GO only made him appreciate the game more.
“A little part of me always wanted to go back,” he said. “I wasn’t happy with the way I left things. I always knew I had so much more to give, but I had lost my motivation in CS due to playing too much and joining one team after the next with no breaks.
“The Major has motivated me a lot, just like seeing how all the ‘new’ teams performed.
“I’m very hungry to play CS again. I have found the focus and ambition that I once had. I want to give CS another try and see how far I can go. I’m getting older as well, so it was kind of a ‘now or never’ situation.”
Draken is one of a number of players who have gone back to CS:GO after giving Valorant a shot. The most notable example is that of Nick ‘nitr0’ Cannella, who returned to Team Liquid earlier in January after playing Valorant at the highest level in North America with 100 Thieves for over a year.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with Valorant,” draken said about the returning players. “It’s more about getting your passion back.
“Valorant is a great game but CS is purer. It’s no bulls**t, you really get what you see. It’s the FPS godfather.”
Draken is currently plying his trade for Savage, a Swedish team that includes another former NIP and Fnatic player in Simon ‘twist’ Eliasson. The rest of the roster is made up of Niclas ‘PlesseN’ Plessen, Denis ‘grux’ Gutaj, and Adam ‘dezon’ Wahlqvist, with the latter being the only unknown quantity of the team.
It’s a solid lineup on paper, as their current world ranking of 38th attests.
Draken raised eyebrows with a 1.72 HLTV rating in his first official match in almost two years — a 2-0 mauling of MASONIC —, but his numbers have since stabilized. He is still averaging a respectable 1.14 rating after playing against higher-caliber opposition, including GamerLegion, SAW, and Sprout.
This time around, draken is taking nothing for granted. Looking back, he admitted that he was “immature” and that his meteoric rise to the top clouded his vision. “I think I was too comfortable in the position I was in,” he said. “I got everything handed to me a bit too early.”
With a renewed love for Counter-Strike and a fresh outlook on himself and on his life based on three pillars — “sleep schedule, diet, and exercise” —, draken is ready to write a new page of his own history.
Two years ago, he left CS:GO through the back door. Now, he is returning to the game a different, “happier” man, one who, according to him, has more self-esteem and discipline.
He knows that he has a long line of critics to prove wrong, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming big.
“I want to win a Major, that’s the first goal,” he said. “I have always had high expectations for myself, and I intend to keep it that way. I know my talent and how much impact I can have. I just have to play with and for the team, and success will come, I’m sure of it.
“2022 is going to be bigger than just me coming back to CSGO. I’m working on a big CS:GO project. I’ll be able to tell everyone more about it when all the dots are connected.”