Many professional players to Overwatch, a game released in May amid an already steady rise in the popularity of esports, came upon the game after being initially interested (or even professionals) in others. For Team EnvyUs’ Timo “Taimou” Kettunen, a 23-year-old from Finland, it was after 15 years of playing first person shooter games that he found this opportunity.
When FPS games made their way into the West, Counter-Strike and Quake were immediately popular. Not being blessed with a good PC until 2001, Taimou had no chance to play Counter-Strike in the early days. Once the family bought a decent PC, though, he at 8 years old would play with his brothers, a time that set the tone for his later interests. After turning 16, the young Fin realized that he was actually good at the game and wanted to become a competitive pro player, as he saw how pro gamers in Korea were celebrated by their fans.
“It may sound cheesy but like, people are fucking rock stars in there and, you know, that’s super cool,” he said. “I want to be a rock star, too.”
Issues arose when new FPS titles in general had a few decent tournaments with good prize money, but would vanish into thin air as the game couldn’t establish dominance on the market. From ages 16 to 22, Timo tried to go professional in various games such as League of Legends, Counter Strike 1.6, Team Fortress 2 and even Shootmania, playing mostly solo at the highest level and hoping to get recognized by teams. He had a brief stint playing for Millenium during his Shootmania days, but that is also the most notable thing that happened during those times.
Apart from League of Legends, all of those games are FPS titles, earning him years of experience in the field, but sadly not the wanted results of becoming a professional, often leaving him in a slump.
With Overwatch being announced, Taimou’s competitive spirit was rekindled. At this time he was still only 22 and came to the conclusion that this was going to be his last shot at going pro. As someone who admittedly didn’t like school nor the traditional 9-to-5 work life, he was “a depressed kid” at times, and Overwatch became his light at the end of the tunnel.
Upon release of the beta, he started playing 14 hours a day spanning four months, trying every day to improve to the point that he could become a pro if the scene materialized. After the closed beta break of one month, he found Sebastian “Chipshajen” Widlund, Dennis “Internethulk” Hawelka and Jonathan “HarryHook” Tejedor and started playing with them and would eventually wind up with them in what we now know as Team EnVyUs.
“I can’t even imagine, it’s now six months since then and we are one of the best teams in the world,” he said. “We are actually competing for good places now, it’s insane. Literally insane. I was a depressed kid six month ago, I am not kidding. I am so happy now.”
The transition has been full of newness to Taimou, who moved to America to live in a house with the rest of his teammates. He’s yet to explore too much of his new surroundings, apart from a bit of drinking here and there and bonding with his team. When he first arrived, the whole team used to scrim for 10 hours per day plus extra play time when any of them wanted to stream or just play some competitive games on their own, easily racking up to 14-16 hours of Overwatch per day. But why do all of them play so much, additionally to their scrim time, that has been cut down to 4-6 hours per day?
“The biggest thing we want to do is that we want to let our support and tank players play a lot of public and ranked so they can get better at aiming characters,” Taimou said. “Right now we have five really, really strong aimers and we could put HarryHook or Chipshajen on any other team and they would perform as a top DPS player.”
ENvyUs is flagged as an American team, though the roster is made up of one American and five Europeans. It’s an interesting blend of cultures, as the Europeans aren’t all from the same country, either. But they are all connected through playing the same game for a living, and nationality doesn’t matter much to them.
“Nerd is a nerd nationality itself” he said, laughing. “I think we are still an EU team right now.”
Having played in EU since the beta got released, with mostly European players and only having moved to America upon the game’s release, he says that there is a very fine line between being an european or american team. His final statement regarding this issue, that fans joke about quite often as well, is a strong one: “I want to be an American team, though.”
It hasn’t all been smooth for Taimou, though, since becoming a pro. He has dealt with multiple accusations of cheating from Reddit, which surfaced after a clip of him killing a Lucio with an insane flick that was interpreted as locking onto the Lucio. His expression changed from that of a cheerful young adult to that of someone who is a bit concerned when asked about the rumors — bothered even. He explained that if you slow the clip down to 25 percent speed, you can clearly see that his mouse went over the Lucio twice
“People are burning me like a witch on a stake for a 7 second clip and that’s insane,” he said.
As cheating accusations are fairly common, he also drew a comparison to Counter-Strike pro Robin “flusha” Rönnquist,, saying that clips like that are normal and happen every time, with flusha supposedly accused of cheating fairly often.
“I guess I am the flusha of Overwatch with just one clip,” Taimou said with a laugh.