Before the days of Overwatch League, I was on Team Gigantti playing in Contenders.
The environment in Gigantti was quiet. It started off with all of us being friends before establishing the team. The core of the team had been playing together since SG-1 and I inserted myself into that, instead of building it from the ground up.
It was more relaxed. I was playing from home and at the time I was roommates with one of the players, Zappis. We had a lot of fun playing the game.
The biggest change from playing on a tournament-to-tournament basis to playing in a league is that you prepare for every game differently. In tournaments, you prepare yourself for the bracket – It’s like layers upon layers.
Depending on how good you felt about your team and how confident you were, you didn’t show certain strategies. Sometimes you even gave up a map, to practice another map over it. You had interesting ways to prepare out of game and more time to build up new strategies that were harder to scout.
In the league format, it’s harder to constantly come up with something new at such a rapid pace, especially because the map pool stays the same for five weeks.
In tournaments, the meta might change in a day – a team would do something very good and everyone would try to imitate it as fast as possible – whereas in a league, it’s more gradual, but the level of gameplay has slowly gone up.
As a player, I’m very analytical about what the enemies want to do. Sometimes, I might be on a different page to my team in terms of how I communicate, because sometimes a play comes from instinct. The reaction from my instincts happens too fast.
I guess this style has some negative effects, but sometimes I’ll try something and it nets two kills because it was a just a good play. It’s about finding balance in what I do.
Good research is probably the best way to gain an edge in a Widow vs Widow battle. For example, Kyky helped me a lot for the game against Philadelphia in Stage Four. He went over the VODs of Philly’s games and the maps we were playing. He looked at the positions where Carpe played and a lot of them were correct and were very useful.
Even if I didn’t get the kill onto Carpe, the fact that I was conscious of the sightlines he used helped me to avoid dying; that was the most important factor. Sometimes you can’t get the shot, but you can just not die, which is almost better in some scenarios.
Mechanics are still very important, but because there’s so much information compared to what you had in tournaments, the art of being able to adapt quickly is kind of disappearing.
Adaptation now comes outside of the game. When we know that the team plays a certain comp a lot, we will start counter-strategizing against it. If a team shows something new in this format, it’s much more destructive than it was in tournaments.
In terms of my individual performance, it’ll never go up or down because of something external, it always goes up and down because of something internal. Did I prepare myself properly on a match day? Did I eat well? Did I sleep well? Has something else happened? It’s all about how I’m feeling.
Some would say that makes me an emotional player, but it’s not like I get hyped up or very downbeat. It’s just that somewhere in the back of my mind there’s something affecting how I play. That’s how it feels; it’s something I’ve been trying to work on.
Obviously, I don’t have the full picture of what’s going to happen next season, but our team, as it is now, has made a lot of progress from Stage 1 to Stage 4.
Arguably, we lost two stages because we didn’t have a Tracer player. When Tracer was most dominant, we didn’t practice one specific person on it.
Overall, our synergy, and what kind of friends and teammates we are, hasn’t changed that much. But how we approach the game has. We’re more in line with each other now and understand each other more on a gameplay level.
There’s a lot of decisions that led us to be so close to playoffs and we almost still made it. If we go into next season with the exact same roster, we’ll have more time to prepare and we can catch up on some of the hero stuff that might not be up to par. Communication is also always being worked on. I think we can do better in Season 2.
Looking forward, I love playing in the World Cup. It was such a fun experience last time with the Gigantti guys; we flew out to Australia for the group stage and we had so much fun, even though we didn’t win.
There are so many things playing in World Cup this year will fulfil for me personally. For one, the group stage is in South Korea.
I’ve always wanted to visit Asia, specifically South Korea and Japan. I’ve researched a lot about them and they seem like really nice places. I’m also going to be able to reunite with my old Gigantti teammates, who I had such a successful run with.
They improved me the most as a player and a person. I’m 24 right now, and they’re all around the same age or a bit older. Before I played with them, I felt like I hadn’t had that much experience talking and playing with people who were more mature, not just in-game but outside of the game as well.
Even the new Gigantti roster from Contenders is very talented. It’s a shame they didn’t win Contenders to continue the tradition. From what I saw, all the players on the new roster have improved tremendously from what I remembered of them, back when I was in Europe.
Between them and our old Gigantti roster, I think Team Finland will definitely still be able to adapt and stay competitive against the other teams in this year’s World Cup. I’m really looking forward to it.
Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment