Suomi – or Finland, as it’s more commonly referred to in this neck of the woods – has gifted the Overwatch community with a wealth of star players. Stalwarts like Joona “fragi” Laine and Timo “Taimou” Kettunen, flashy duos like Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni and Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara, Contenders stars like Tuomo “Davin” Leppänen and Joonas “zappis” Alakurtti, and new OWL stars like the Atlanta Reign’s Petja “Masaa” Kantanen are all doing their country proud across every role and play style you could imagine. Despite this impressive list of talent, only one Overwatch player has earned the title of “Finland’s Gift to Esports”.
Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin, sniper-savant for the Houston Outlaws, is doing his best to hold onto that title. Read on to hear about his efforts to stay sharp and to keep the Outlaws in the playoff hunt this season – among other things…
First off – how are you feeling?
LiNkzr: Pretty good, I’d say. I’m happy. We had a rough week last week, and there was a lot that just wasn’t really working. Our practice wasn’t perfect, I can say, but we made some small adjustments that helped a lot in [our game against Florida]. I felt like we were playing…more GOATS, basically. But also better GOATS. Our 3-3 was going much more smoothly.
The Outlaws are having an up-and-down start to the season. How is the team dealing with the pressure placed on you, and the pressure you place on yourselves to perform?
I think that part of the reason we’re having this up-and-down is because we aren’t keeping our cool. We have the tendency to sometimes be disappointed in ourselves, and sometimes we’re really proud of ourselves. We can be proud, or we can be disappointed, but it has to come from a more neutral standpoint. Sometimes I as an individual have this problem, but it’s different when you’re with the team. We need to look at things a bit more objectively, sometimes.
Houston’s last two games this stage are against the Valiant and the Reign. What are some players or particular points about those teams that you’re preparing for?
I think we haven’t really gone over those games yet, because they’re still far away. [Note: This interview was conducted on March 2nd, so these games were a good distance away at the time!]
Off the top of my head, I’m curious how the Valiant’s backline-to-frontline communication looks like. Are there big differences in between what they want to do and how they want to do it? I want to try to analyze that a bit.
Then in the Reign, I’m watching out for my boy Masaa. I’ve been impressed with him so far, but in our game I want to make sure, you know? I think I can guess some of his tendencies as a player, just because all of the supports from Gigantti are kind of similar. They have their own flair, and their own strengths and weaknesses, so I’m gonna keep an eye out on him.
What’s your favorite non-Overwatch thing to do when you’re just relaxing?
Right now, there’s a couple. I always have a side game, basically. It varies. Right now, Apex, obviously, you know, just to have fun and play some BR. Watching anime.
What have you been watching?
I’ve been watching the new season of JoJo, and Promise Neverland. I always have a couple animes that I’ve been watching or reading. And then, you know, every week there’s a day where I watch them with Stefi or alone – depends. Some of the animes are really good, too. Like Mob Psycho – I can’t believe I didn’t mention that [right away], actually.
There are a few Overwatch League players who watch a good bit of anime too, right?
Do you guys ever do viewing parties, where you all get together and watch?
No, I don’t think we’ve done that yet. That sounds interesting, though. I think there would be a lot of people interested in doing that…There’s a lot of us. It’s become a bit more mainstream, which is kind of fun!
Speaking of resting – how was your off-season? Was it fairly restful?
The off-season was a lot more stressful than I thought it would be. I had the World Cup, and I had a lot of organization-related stuff to do. I also had to move, and then I had to manage everything while flying to Finland, so… it was hectic. But after getting to Finland and getting over BlizzCon, it was kind of smooth until the league started.
Some of your fellow Outlaws have been talking about stepping up on the trash talk lately. Got anything to throw LA or Atlanta’s way before your games?
[Related: The Houston Outlaws Want In On All This Trash Talk, ft. Jake, Rawkus, Danteh, and Flame]
I don’t have anything, really. When I’m excited and playing on stage I might be a little toxic, but I’m really bad at trash talking people! So I have nothing to really throw at them. I just think I’ll do my art that I’ve been doing before the matches and try to get under their skin a little that way.
Which of those doodles has been your favorite so far?
L: I think my favorite was the Hangzhou Spark and that game. Because I think that was the first time I really went for it. It was basically a weird caricature of their amazing poster. I just thought it was funny.
[More to come from our talk with LiNkzr – stay tuned for his thoughts on some interesting subjects in an upcoming feature! Thanks for sitting and chatting with us, and good luck this season!]
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Transcription by: Darby Joyce
Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment