It’s Been A While

It’s nice to be back playing professionally. It’s hard to put into words exactly how it feels… it’s been a while.

The sense of emotion you get competing on stage is probably the best feeling out there, especially when you’re in the moment and you’re actually performing well.

I can’t wait to be back out there, playing in front of a crowd again.

It’s something I’ve always wanted, from the very beginning of my esports career. I remember setting my sights on going pro in multiple different games but sucking at each and every one – there wasn’t any game that I was really good at.

When Overwatch was released, I set my sights on it and started grinding really hard to reach the top.

I stumbled upon other people who had a lot of experience competing in other games, through which I gained access to PUGs, scrims and teams – very naturally and organically, rather than trying to be discovered on the ladder.

I got to know a lot of good people and started to play with them in team environments. From there it was just a grind to get better and play in tournaments.

I was on a team named Rogue for a while. By the end of my time with them in 2016, we had been on the road for 10 weeks straight, living in hotel rooms and spending around 10 hours a day with each other.

I think we were kind of tired of being around each other and, eventually, that stress disrupted our practice and the relationships within the team.

It became too stressful to be enjoyable. We just weren’t having that good of a time playing with each other.

2016 was the year of the first Overwatch World Cup. The player selection process was different from how it is now; they had this voting system where fans got to vote on which players were selected.

Even though I’d been winning tournaments with Rogue, and we were considered to the best team around the fall of 2016, cocco was voted into the Sweden World Cup squad instead of me. He was on Team Envy and they were a more popular team than Rogue; they had more fans and voters.

I was upset not to be picked, I felt I deserved it. From that moment on, I almost viewed cocco as my nemesis since he was on the other best team, EnVyUs, and he was the other Swedish tank player.

After that experience, both Tviq and I decided we wanted something completely different.

We went from a “hardcore” team in Rogue, where we were minimizing mistakes and giving each other criticism if we did something wrong, to a full Swedish team in Misfits, where it was a super nice atmosphere. We could speak our native language and we just felt like friends playing Overwatch.

Many of the players were at the top of the scene at the time, including myself, Nevix and Zebbosai, so expectations were high. We thought when we formed Misfits that we’d continue to be top players and a top team, just in a more relaxed environment.

It turned out that wasn’t the case. Our friendly environment just meant that we didn’t practice as hard as we did back on Rogue.

When the Overwatch World Cup came back around in 2017, there was the same discussion: Would it be me or cocco?

It was my time.

When I was picked for the 2017 Team Sweden World Cup roster, I was over the moon. After missing out in 2016 when I felt that I deserved to be there, I felt that I’d got my revenge in 2017.

Despite everything falling apart with Misfits, the Swedish team still advanced out of the Sydney Group Stage and qualified for the Top 8 at BlizzCon.

It was a good reset for me, especially after having such a hard time with Misfits. We were the best-paid team in Europe and we were supposed to win everything, instead, we were choking in the playoff stages at every tournament.

As a result, I had felt a lot of pressure going into the OWWC, so when we finally won with Team Sweden in the qualifier, it was such a relief. I felt a sense of happiness that I hadn’t experienced in months.

Finally, it felt like we were on a positive path. The bad moments with Misfits were in the past, and we could focus on the future – we had BlizzCon to play, everything was super sweet and I was fucking loving it…

And then I got kicked from the team.

I was kicked from Misfits first. I was working at the World Cup stage in Katowice as an analyst, watching South Korea practice in a scrim, when I noticed that they were playing a Misfits trial line-up.

It was surreal: “Oh, they’re trialling people… without telling me…” That was when I realised I’d been kicked from the team.

And then, after qualifying for Blizzcon, I was kicked from Team Sweden as well.

I can’t ever remember being that upset about something in my whole life. Honestly, it killed me for days. There were like three or four days where no one could be with me because I was so upset.

But now, I’m back.

There were actual trials this year, no community-based voting, no players picking their favorite tanks or whatever. This year, I’ve earned my spot.

When I signed a contract as an analyst for Overwatch League, it was really hard to step away from competitive play entirely. It was hard to admit that I was retired, so I never did. Mentally, I found it hard to step away.

I was very pessimistic for two or three months. I wasn’t really playing the game, I’d kind of accepted my fate: “I’m never going to make it back, I’m an analyst now. That’s gonna be it.”

But as the OWWC trials drew closer – around April – that’s when I really started grinding again during any free time I got, when I came home from work or had off-days. I realized that maybe it wasn’t the end.

I told myself I would never join a Contenders team – that would be too big of a step-down. It was going to be the World Cup or nothing.

Team Sweden trials lasted for four or five weeks. They were huge – around 30 Swedish players tried out. During the tryouts, you were just playing the game, there were no meetings, no conversations. Sweden’s coach, Mineral, never asked for my opinion on anything and VODs weren’t ever publicized.

We had no say in who we played with, everything was very under the radar. Ultimately, it came down to Mineral picking who he liked the most. You were just hoping that every day you wouldn’t get a message, saying “I’m sorry, we don’t need you anymore.”

Every day I would turn up for trials and there were fewer and fewer people there each day. Finally, I got the message that I’d made the final 12, then towards the end, there were only seven of us playing regularly, which was when I realized I’d made the final roster.

I think my role as an analyst really helped me during trials. The main tank role is very much about approaching the game tactically and strategically. So, in many ways, the most important thing a tank can do is study VODs and theorize what to better and how to use abilities better. It’s not a hugely mechanical role.

If it wasn’t for working as an analyst in the Overwatch League, I probably wouldn’t even be a Contenders-level player at this point.

Studying all the tactics, learning more about creating space in a more efficient way, it all just became more methodical. It definitely made me a way better player and I applied everything I’d learned really well in the trials to become the player I am now.

We’re insanely confident about the group stage in Thailand, I think partially because the community is looking down on us.

“…some Florida Mayhem, some Misfits players, some Contenders players… and then there’s an analyst!”

But we’re feeding off that kind of talk.

We’re really motivated, and I know we’ve got a sick lineup. I’m very confident in my own ability, Manneten is super solid and SharP is the most ridiculous aimer I’ve ever seen. The guy is 16 years old, but he’s so deadly on Widowmaker and Tracer.

I feel really good and I have so much confidence in everyone’s ability to perform in Bangkok. I think we’re the best team at the Thailand Group Stage.

Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment & OGN

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