Ube: 'Staying active and keeping up physical exercise helps a lot mentally and will help you ingame too. Feel good, play good.'
From his time within teams like LDLC, Luminosity Gaming Loyal, and Bazooka Puppies, Toni "Ube" Häkli has been around the block. Ube now has joined up with DOSE Overwatch to compete for a chance to play in the Overwatch Contenders Season 2. He spoke with Esports Heaven about healthy attitudes in gaming, why we might be seeing less and less Tracer, and why he now has to shoot with spacebar instead left clicking with his mouse.
Ube, talk to me, where did you come from in terms of gaming? Many professional players played competitively in other games, is that story similar to you? If not, talk to me about what your early years were like? What did you enjoy growing up?
I've been playing video games for 20 years now, RTS, MMOs, MOBAs, and pretty much every FPS game there is from Tribes 1 to CS. However, the only other game I ever played competitively was League of Legends where I was a semi-pro.
I had many chances to go pro but I didn't enjoy playing the game competitively due to team environment being so much different and about avoiding mistakes and farming safely rather than trading and playing aggressive which made the game incredibly boring for me.
There seems to be a big pool of Finnish talent when it comes to Overwatch esports, why do you think that is?
This one is a hard question. I don't think I've ever seen so many good/great Finnish players in another esports title, it might be because of players switching from other games. Overwatch looked really interesting and was hyped before launching, I know a lot of the players played different games on a high level before so maybe they managed to bring that experience into Overwatch.
We’ve seen teams across the history of Overwatch call on different roles for leadership. Where do you think the most optimal role is for vocal communication or do you think it’s all player based?
I think it's definitely player based, some people are good at multitasking and some are not. Some DPS players are able to call & plan fights, some need to focus on playing the game in order to do well so they leave it to other people.
For an example, I've heard Kruise likes to be very vocal on his Genji, where other players have to focus on watching out for enemy cooldowns, positioning, etc. and are not able to do that many things at once.
That being said I still believe the easiest roles for that would be Main Tank / Main Support because you have more time to think about the game and don't have to focus as much on little things like cooldowns and/or maximizing ultimate value.
The core aspect of teams have been a large talking point leading into the Overwatch League. How important do you think it is to have a core of players that have pre-established synergy and that have proven to work well together?
I believe it's very important to have a working core of players - obviously, you need people that work well together to have a working team, someone who takes care of planning, someone who tracks ultimates and people who come up with ideas when you feel like you are stuck in the game etc. Just randomly putting together some of the best players you know won't work if they don't have all of the qualities needed to make a functioning team which is why we see "super" teams fail so often.
You can still put together a working team but you need to find the right players and identify what the team is lacking in order to make it work, so having a core that already clicks makes it a lot easier, but with the right management and coaching, I don't think it's necessary. It's hard to find good coaching/management in Overwatch since the game is still pretty new and some questionable people have been put in charge of these things so having a proven core is the safer option.
Looking back at the Luminosity Loyal roster, could you shed some light on why that team never seemed to “click”? It seemed like the team had some really strong pieces, why do you think that the team never really progressed farther than it did?
Yeah, a lot of people asked me this question before - the team looked really strong on paper and people expected much more from us, we had strong pieces but I guess we simply didn't have the "right" pieces to make it into something great.
The team was pretty much shaped during triple tank meta where we did well, and when it changed into dive I suppose we failed to adapt. We were trying to find a coach to help us with our problems but could not find the right person for that job.
We started looking much better towards the end of it, but it was too late and it took us too much time to get there so we ended up going separate ways. I know all of LGL are very talented and will fit well into different teams.
If you had to give some advice to a younger Ube, what would it be? Think about talking to yourself about 5-10 years ago, what's the biggest piece of advice you’d give yourself and why?
STRETCH. Stay active. Take breaks. I completely destroyed my right hand playing 12-16 hours a day back in League of Legends, that game being a massive clickfest ignoring stretching and physical activity was terrible.
Now ever since I started playing Overwatch I've had to shoot with the spacebar and jump with mouse 1 because holding down mouse buttons makes my whole arm go numb, I've had some funny reactions to that.
Staying active and keeping up physical exercise helps a lot mentally and will help you in-game too. Feel good, play good.
In the future do you think it will be more important for DPS players to focus on being very versatile or having one or two heroes your very good at enough to play at the highest level?
Honestly, I think this will depend on how often the meta changes and if you're projectile/hitscan. I think it'll always be important that you CAN be versatile when needed if you can only play one hero at a high level but your other heroes aren't up there I don't think it will be enough. Then again OWL teams are now fielding 10+ player rosters so I think it's possible we'll see some “one hero” specialists in the future and playing only one hero is viable.
Do you feel like, with the launch of the Overwatch League, the tier 2 scene will be a secure place to foster talent?
Right now I feel like tier 2 scene will be in a really good place - OWL numbers were really good, and if they stay stable there will be a lot of interest in tier 2, giving players the freedom to practice and improve without having to worry about working/studying. Hopefully, some of the teams that previously left will be coming back as well.
With Day 1 of the Overwatch League in the books, we’ve seen a lot of Tracer-less compositions. Do you think that Tracer could possibly be less of a ‘must run?’ Are you seeing similar strategies in Europe? Where would you not run a Tracer these days?
Sadly I missed the first day of the OWL and didn't have the time to watch the VODs yet due to being stuck in the army for some days. I'd imagine the OWL teams are good at dealing with Tracers making her less impactful, also Junkrat is a really strong pick against Tracer now, you just end up getting one shot by a damage boosted [Concussion Mine] most of the time making Tracer really hard to play.
In that same sense, we’ve seen Junkrat substituted for Tracer. Do you think that is more a stylistic choice or do you think that this is just the way the metagame is shifting? Do you think the PTR changes could hurt that pick rate?
Junkrat is incredibly OP right now, you can just spam pipes at a wall and make space & pressure people without much effort and possibly get random picks. If the PTR changes make it so you can't just one shot Tracers with a damage boosted mine [then] yeah, I think his pick rate will go down a bit, then again I didn't have the time to try PTR yet. All in all, Junkrat is a really disturbing hero currently, dying of random pipes and shifts is incredibly frustrating and hopefully, PTR will fix this.
Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLG’s of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would like to know more or follow his thoughts on esports you can follow him at @Volamel.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment and DreamHack.