AlphaKep: ‘It shouldn’t be as close as it is’.
Every week, GGRecon highlights one team performing well and gives context to their performance. This week, we look at the history, recent results, and expectations of XSET.
Austin "AlphaKep" Kepner, Colby "hockser" James, and JPow have kept up with the RLCS, and are currently fourteenth in the RLCS Rankings. They’re doing alright, but they’re looking to break through into the top of the league. Their current run through Regional Event 3 is impressive, and could be a glimpse of what’s to come.
XSET was born out of the ashes of Stromboli, a team originally consisting of JPow, Alex "AlRaz" Raczynski, and Andrew "Andy" Nolan. After coming together in late 2019, they made it into Season 9 of the Rival Series, with Hector "hec" Velazco taking the starting position from Andy. In the first months of the team’s existence, Stromboli made a promising start, by landing a third place in the Season 9 RLRS, and by showing their worth in smaller weekly tournaments. They were quickly not just a bubble team anymore, but a team that was just one league away from taking on the big names.
The off-season before RLCS Season X wasn’t the most successful for the team, though. They often got stuck in the qualifiers for the big events, and didn’t get on top in the weekly tournaments either. After changing starter and substitute positions among themselves, Andy and hec left the team in April. Both players made their way into the RLCS X in different ways, as we watched them play in the RLCS X Games Regional Event 3 for Loco and Volt Esports.
The player to fill the open spot on Stromboli is AlphaKep. He proved to be a strong addition to the team, as they qualified for The Brawl 10K the next month. This is the team that went on to be signed by XSET. With RLCS X still ahead of them, they’re faced by their biggest challenge yet. How will they fare against all the other RLCS teams in the North American region?
It was known from the start that XSET are not a team at the top of the league, and finishing in the top ten or qualifying for a Major is far from guaranteed for them. Still, they know they’ve got some firepower behind them, and they were aiming straight for the RLCS leaderboards.
Firstkiller is my kryptonite.
Throughout the RLCS X, JPow and AlphaKep have stuck together, but their third has changed. First, Tristian "tcorrell" Correll replaced AlRaz, and then tcorrell got swapped out for hockser. With tcorrell, they had a sniper on their team, to hit the target from anywhere. But with hockser, their performance isn’t any worse - maybe not even any better - than before.
The ongoing Regional Event, the RLCS X Games, has XSET blooming to their full potential. We’re halfway through the Regional Event, and XSET are still fighting. They’ve already secured top 12, which is something they’ve only done once before, when they finished in the fifth to eighth places at the second Regional Event of the Fall Split.
XSET beat team sup in the first round, but they were no match for NRG Esports, who took them down to the lower bracket. Then, they surprised everyone by sweeping the Kansas City Pioneers to eliminate them and move on through the bracket. AlphaKep came on the broadcast to explain that it shouldn’t be that surprising. “It shouldn’t be as close as it is”, he said, “this is how we usually play in scrims.”
Of course, good results in scrims don’t necessarily say all that much about a team. Like AlphaKep said - even with good scrims, it can be hard to win in the actual tournaments. But once a team can transfer their performance from scrims to the real deal, they have struck gold. Let’s find out if XSET can continue to do so.
We don’t know yet who XSET will face in the next rounds. AlphaKep just hopes it’s not Rogue: “Firstkiller is my kryptonite.” He thinks they stand a better chance against G2 Esports. G2 focus a lot on passing plays, and AlphaKep feels like they can play well against that.
The RLCS X keeps giving teams like XSET more and more chances to prove themselves, and to impress the Rocket League fans with a deep run in one of the tournaments. Maybe next weekend will be XSET’s time.
Images via Liquipedia (WGN)