The odd name of “BigGoose” tied to a character like Mercy has turned Benjamin Isohanni into one of Overwatch League’s most popular players. Isohanni, who hails from Finland, mainlines support for the Los Angeles Gladiators. After two weeks of play, the Gladiators are 2 and 2 on the season, sitting in second place behind the undefeated Seoul Dynasty. Isohanni’s play has been exceptional up to this point, dazzling the crowd at times with perfectly timed resurrections and offensive outbursts.
I talked to Isohanni about the early days of Overwatch League, the Gladiator’s daily schedule, and the origin of his in-game name. He also sheds light on what he thinks of the current state of the competitions, and why he thinks we may see the playing field give Seoul a run for their money as time goes on.
How were you brought into Overwatch League? Can you walk me through the process up until the contract is signed?
The coach that represented the Gladiators contacted me, and said he was interested in having me try out for the team. We discussed it a bit, and then the second time we talked – maybe a week later – we did the tryouts. I performed very well for about two hours. I was playing from Europe, and the servers were in America, so was there a ping factor that had to be taken into account. Overall, I guess they were happy with the performance. They probably didn’t pay much attention to the mechanics because of the ping – which is a big thing in Overwatch – but that’s pretty much how it went.
How many people were in the tryouts? That had to be somewhat nerve-racking knowing you are competing for a job against other players.
I’m fairly sure it was a small group, at least four people. That’s all I know.
Where does your esports background begin? What other games did you play professionally?
The first game I competed in was League of Legends. I was on an amateur team that played in Europe. This was around season two or three. We played well, and my team managed to get into the LCS Promotion Tournament. For roster reasons we couldn’t participate in the actual tournament, which was quite unfortunate. Around that time I kind of knew I was good at games, and wanted to pursue an esports career, but also having a fallback plan if it doesn’t work out. That was my first experience with esports, and then Overwatch came.
Were you playing Overwatch on day one? Did you try to compete right when it caught fire?
No. I didn’t pick it up until around season one and ranked came out. I was like “Oh, I’ll just play this since I have nothing else to do.” I played with a couple of friends and noticed I had a lot of fun playing with them. Later on, my friends stopped playing, but I knew I was pretty good at this game, so I continued improving. Once I felt I was good enough to succeed at a certain level, I decided I would join a team or build one.
What were you ranked in Competitive mode when you were playing the game outside of the league?
I don’t play ranked now, given there isn’t much time outside of the evenings. The maximum rank people can reach is 5,000, but it’s almost impossible to get there, since the higher you go the less points you get. If I recall correctly, one person in Korea achieved this [GyoMin “Evermore” Koo], but he used a strategy that isn’t really favored upon. At the moment I’m 4,200. I will play some more when I have time.
Where did the name BigGoose come from?
I was playing League of Legends with my friends, and they were suddenly calling me BigGoose, and I was like “What do you mean? I don’t get it.” Later on, I realized if you change one letter in my last name and translate it to English it is basically BigGoose.
Mercy is the character we see you using the most in the league. Who else do you enjoy playing as?
It’s mainly Lúcio and Mercy. It’s 90-percent Mercy right now because she’s really good and Xen is just better than Lúcio in many ways. Those are my two main heroes.
Blizzard keeps changing Mercy. That has to be difficult for creating strategies for league play. The other team isn’t the only one attacking you. Blizzard is too.
I am actually really happy with the upcoming Mercy changes. I started playing support about six months ago. I got picked up by a team before Overwatch League to play support for them. This was back when Lúcio was played 90 or 100 percent of the time. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would miss playing Lúcio so much.
Will the Mercy changes come into the league midseason?
I’m pretty sure Blizzard has final say on the patches, but it would make sense to have the patches introduced in new [season] stages so no team gets an unfair advantage. If there’s a huge meta shift, and someone figures it out and the other players don’t mid-stage, that wouldn’t be good. That could make or break a team.
What do you think of the league so far?
I think it’s amazing. We’re kind of blessed to be able to play at such a high skill level. It’s unbelievable, and all thanks to Blizzard and the fans to be given this opportunity.
Seoul Dynasty appears to be the team to beat right now. What do you have to do to take those guys down?
have a bit of an advantage for playing together as a team for such a
long period of time. Other teams have just recently formed two months or
so ago. I think the gap between the teams is going to reduce
drastically when we get further into the league. There will definitely
be closer games between all of the teams as time goes on.
Are you in a situation where you are on a team with new players, or have you been played with some of them before?
I knew the other support player [Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara]. He was on the other team I was on before called Team Gigantti. We both picked up around the same time. I guess the reason we got picked up here is because we won the European championship. Aside from that, I haven’t played with anyone else before.
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Does the entire team live together?
Some of the teams in the league live in single apartments. Others live in houses with multiple players under the same roof. For us, we have two houses. We have a player house and a staff house. Most of the players live in the player house with a coach. The rest of the players live in the staff house with a few staff members.
When the team is put together, they have certain players in mind, like you being a healer. How long did it take for chemistry and routine to gel?
Routine is kind of based on when you are scrimmaging. Most teams scrim at the same time, so it comes together quick, but you just have to specialize in one role or you won’t be that good. You have to focus on one.
You practice for six hours a day six days a week. Can you walk me through your daily schedule?
We usually start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 8:00 p.m. We do that six days a week. On Monday through Friday we usually have a workout in the morning. After that, we shower, eat, get to the practice area around noon, and play for two hours. We then have a break for one hour, and then play two more hours. Another one-hour break, and then we end with another two-hour scrim.
Do you watch film of the other teams to size up their strategies? Is that something your coach walks you through?
Definitely. There are certain things certain teams do, which are very noticeable. You practice against most of these teams every week, so everyone kind of knows what you might be doing. You can throw a curveball and use a different strategy in the game.
Do you always practice against other teams in the league?
Every Overwatch League team plays against another Overwatch League team. Our scrims are against another team for two hours. Some teams have 12 people on the roster, so they can in theory have 6 versus 6. I think it’s probably better to play against another team though.
As the season progresses, are there windows for player trades or a draft to bring in new talent?
I’m not sure about trades, but I believe there’s a midseason signing. I think it starts in stage two, if I remember correctly. You can sign another player outside of Overwatch League for a period of time, like two months or something like that. You can add players that way. Once you have your roster locked, you can’t add any players after that.