Tucked away between Sweden and Russia, Finland is a country known for its love of metal music and coffee. Not everyone thinks of it as a haven for Overwatch—it’s no South Korea—but Finland has produced some of the game’s best players.
With six of its seven players fielded from Overwatch League teams, Finland is heading into its Overwatch World Cup group stage matches in a position to move on to big event at BlizzCon in November, one of the only teams with a chance to match South Korea for the championship spot. It’s not an accident. Though Finland has struggled in previous World Cups—the team failed to move out of groups last year—the country has one of the more successful tier two and three scenes, with a number of small tournaments designed specifically to harness Finnish talent. The last of which, Assembly’s Overwatch OMEN by HP tournament, was held in late June in Helsinki.
In areas where esports are supported by smaller tournament scenes, like in South Korea, we see a larger concentration of Overwatch players. For Finland, that means players are scattered through the Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders scenes—Los Angeles Gladiators, Philadelphia Fusion, Houston Outlaws, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, and Team Gigantti. Team Finland pulled a player or two from each of these teams, creating one of the more stacked rosters in the Overwatch World Cup.
Heading into the Incheon group stage scheduled to begin at 9pm CT on Aug. 16, Finland’s biggest threat is South Korea. They’ll face off against the Korean team, made up mainly of New York Excelsior players, early on Aug. 17. It’s during that match where Finland’s players will be truly tested. If they’ve retained the synergy to take on the world’s best players in the South Korean team, they have a real shot at the championship title.
The majority of Finland’s player have competed together before with great success. Back in 2017, the team that was once Ninjas in Pyjamas turned into Team Gigantti—Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara, Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni, Joona “Fragi” Laine, Joonas “zappis” Alakurtti, Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin, and Tuomo “Davin” Leppänen were all part of the roster at one point. Together, the roster won ASUS ROG’s Overwatch tournament in August 2017, Overwatch Contender’s European event in October 2017, and ASUS ROG in November 2017.
Gigantti disbanded shortly after, and players were sprinkled throughout Overwatch League and Contenders rosters. The Finnish roster has the history, but it’ll have to stand the test of time if they want to be a formidable opponent for South Korea. The good news is Finland’s two support players have been able keep up their synergy as Los Angeles Gladiators’ important support duo, BigGoose and Shaz. As the backbone of the Finnish team, other players will rely on them to maintain consistency in their matches.
Finland’s first opponent is Hong Kong, followed by the South Korea match. Russia is up next, followed by Japan and Taiwan. Both Japan and Russia are two other teams to watch as the Overwatch World Cup group stage begins. Japan made an impressive run in last year’s World Cup; they didn’t make it out of groups, but ended up being far underrated last year. As for Russia, the team has two Overwatch League players on-board: Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov and George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha. The two DPS players can carry games, and Overwatch players familiar with their play will likely be looking out for them.