Before Overwatch existed, Timo “Taimou” Kettunen says he knew he wanted to be a professional gamer. After being inspired by the success of StarCraft 2 pros, he tried his hand at many games.
“Then I heard about Overwatch,” he recalled, “I was already 22 and I was like, ‘Yeah, I guess this is my last chance.’ Obviously, it’s not. People think young players are better, but the male body peaks at 30 years old, 25 to 30 years old."
In early 2016, the famous IDDQD roster was formed, and Taimou was part of it. Making their debut in the GosuGamers Overwatch Weekly, the team went on to win 11 straight tournaments and were eventually picked up by the endemic esports organization Team EnVyUs.
Taimou tells it more simply: “I got into the beta, started playing. Played for a few months, won everything. Then we became EnVyUs. We went to APEX, rolled some newbies—first Western team to win a Korean tournament, by the way.”
As a three-time member of Team Finland, Taimou is one of the few players to participate in all the Overwatch World Cup tournaments so far. He has some fond memories, particularly of last year’s World Cup group stage in Sydney. “It was super cool. It was one of the biggest stages I’d played at, aside from APEX,” Taimou said. “The Aussies, I think, were the best, most alive audience we’ve ever had.”
Finland did not advance out of the opening stage in 2017, but Taimou was still riding a wave of overall success. EnVyUs was one of the most successful teams in Overwatch history; they were superstars, a sign of what success, particularly for the West, looked like. Then they became the Dallas Fuel.
But despite the pedigree of success, the Fuel struggled in their first Overwatch League season, finishing 10th overall, with a 12-28 record. “It kind of dropped off,” Taimou said quietly. “I don’t know where.”
To old EnVyUs fans, this didn’t make sense, and Taimou felt like he was falling apart: “People who have ambitions, like me, it’s like, if you can’t win… you go onstage, you get rolled, you feel bad.”
Taimou is feeling better than he was, thanks in part to the Fuel’s strong Stage 4 performance in which they reached the stage playoffs. The ongoing challenge of success in the Overwatch League remains, and it’s really a job that’s never done. “So, trying to build back up to what you were is a lot of trial and error, I suppose,” he said.
Heading into the 2018 Overwatch League World Cup, Taimou says he’s wiser and more prepared after going through so much in 2017. “It’s a fun tournament, but there’s a lot of national pride. For us to lose [last year] to Sweden… is the biggest mistake. If you lose to Sweden but you still won the tournament, you still lost. You don’t want to lose to Sweden. This one is different. We are super confident going in.”
You can hear the confidence in his voice as he assessed the competition. “Korea are the big boys in here,” he said. “They won the last two years, but they picked an odd team [this year]. They will still be the ones to beat. But if a team beats them here, it’s going to be us.”
The 2018 World Cup kicks off Friday in Incheon, South Korea. Check out our complete stage preview for schedules, rosters, live-streaming locations, and more. All Overwatch World Cup matches will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Check your local listings for select broadcasts on Disney XD.