Stefan "ONIGOD" Fiskerstrand is one of the limited number of Western players who’ve had the opportunity to go in Korea and participate in the country’s premier Overwatch, OGN’s APEX. During the tournament’s inaugural season, the then nineteen-year-old Norwegian joined REUNITED for a top8 finish, losing a close series to the eventual second place team. Shortly after getting home and parting ways with the lineup, he joined the North American squad Toronto Esports. While they lacked notable results, the team won a number of smaller online events and managed to qualify for Contenders S0.
Last week, we had the opportunity to ask Stefan a number of questions about his time on the two teams, what he’s been up to since leaving TO and more.
When you joined Reunited, you switched to being an off-tank and the move seemed quite weird from the outside. How did the idea of you switching came about to be? Did you consider turning them down since you had to change position?
I honestly didn’t know this until I arrived in Seoul and if I remember correctly Unfixed wanted to switch to DPS. At that time I considered myself a good off-tank player, but there is a BIG difference playing off-tank in ranked, compared to a team environment. I also never considered turning them down, considering it was pretty much a once in a lifetime opportunity.
How much freedom did you have to play the way you wanted to? Were you allowed to go for the plays you saw or did you have to fit in the pre-established system they had?
I feel like I couldn’t play the way I wanted. I felt a bit too micromanaged. For example, people were telling me when to use Graviton Surge and that turned into some pretty bad ultimates. I think a reason that I was micromanaged a bit is because I barely communicated anything at all. In real life, I don’t really talk a lot and in my previous team I rarely said anything at all, so communicating things like: “Bubbling you”, “Ulting”, “Shield in 5” was very new to me. I got better with time but not as good as I should have been.
It was sometimes ago, so you mightn’t recall too much but I’d like to ask a few things about your time in Korea next.
You got to play against the two best Korean pro-Genji players at the time, ArHaN and Haksal. As someone who’s played it quite a bit in solo-queue, was there something special they were doing compared to other Genjis?
This question is almost a bit too specific for me to remember, but I do remember that Haksal in particular, had an amazing decision-making during his Dragonblades. He knew where every enemy was and where to dash next.
KongDoo Panthera was quite a different lineup back then, but something I've been told by multiple players who scrimmed them around that time is that they were really good in practice. As someone who played and beat them in a fairly convincing manner, what do you think were their issues offline? Was there a particular weakness you guys found and tried to exploit?
The issue might be nerves, but, honestly, I’m not too sure and yes. After scrimming them for a while we noticed how EVERMORE played with his Roadhog. Usually, he played very far away from his team and we capitalized on this. Back then Mei was meta so we often found opportunities to wall him in so he could not run away too.
You also played got to play LW Blue (whose core went on to become NYXL) before they got Fl0w3R. Obviously, with him, they were one of the best in the world, but what was the team like before Fl0w3R joined, from your experience of playing against them?
Not too sure about this one either. They were all very good players, but I remember that against them, we as a team also played one of our best sets that season. They might have still lacked some firepower or synergy, [compared to later on].
What was the atmosphere on the team like going into the AF Blue series, did you think of yourselves as the underdogs and had you prepared specific strategies prepared for them? Notably, outside of the final against EnVyUs, the series against you was the worst one dayfly and yesman had in the entire tournament, did you target them?
We were prepared to play our best. I don’t think we considered ourselves either an underdog or a favorite. We didn’t have any special strategies planned ahead of the games and targeting dayfly and yesman was a pure coincidence. I think if we had fixed some really minor mistakes we would have been able to win this set.
How difficult was it to transition to an off-tank player and is there something about the position that doesn't fit you as good as being a dealer? Were you always going to return to being a full-time DPS after leaving REUNITED?
The transition was honestly hard for me and I didn’t have much time to prepare myself. As I said earlier, playing off-tank in ranked, compared to team environment is very different. I had to learn to play in a more passive manner. Right now I don’t mind, playing any position, as long as it benefits my team. I think I can play a lot of heroes on a high level (not Mercy) but I am currently playing hitscan DPS as my main role.
Looking back, how do you evaluate your time on REUNITED? I recall you drew some criticism from fans, but you also had very little time to adapt.
I think I played well considering how little time there was to establish synergy [with the rest of the team] and for me to transition to off-tank. Although I will admit that I made a lot of mistakes that shouldn’t have been made. I got a lot of criticism, which I understand, but a lot of the things I got criticized for was not only my fault.
Overall, playing with all these players was a great experienced and I am forever grateful I got the opportunity to play for REUNITED.
Only two weeks after parting ways with the team, it was announced that you're joining Toronto eSports and going to move to Canada. How did the whole thing come to be so quickly and were there any other offers you had at the time?
This is one of the decisions I regret a bit. I rushed into it too much and I should have waited for a better opportunity. It’s not that TO was bad, but I do regret rushing this part. I think I chose the team because of the things I was told [by them]. Also, knowing HuK was involved with them made me trust the organization.
To what degree did you feel like you had to prove yourself again due to the criticism you received for your time on REUNITED?
I didn’t feel much pressure on TO since everyone rated as a poor team. I still have to prove to everyone [that I can do much better], which I hopefully can during Open/Contenders.
What was the overall atmosphere on TO like? We know now that HuK has put a lot of emphasis on coaching for Boston Uprising, but was it the same in TO?
The atmosphere was mixed for a while, I would say it was at its peak during the contender's qualifiers when we won versus “bigger” teams like Hammers and Liquid, as well as making it to the finals against Immortals, which no one expected. The coaching part was not the same at all in TO when I played. There wasn’t really much of a support staff until the month before I left the team.
The team won a number of small online events and had some decent results, but overall wasn't one of the best teams in the region. At the same time, you guys showed flashes of very good performances, the best example being in the Contenders Qualifier. What do you think was the issue with regularly performing at such a level? Did you have any special preparation for that particular qualifier?
We really didn’t have any special preparations, but everyone knew that this is where we have to give all we got and everyone managed to play at their best. I think the issue with performing at this level consistently is that we didn’t get enough experience against strong opponents. We very rarely got scrims with high-rated teams.
We saw you at the world cup Qualifier with Norway's team, but other than that, you've been a bit absent from the highest level since leaving TO. Please tell us what have you been up to since then and what are your Overwatch plans for the future.
Since then the only thing I’ve done is grinding. I`ve been improving myself as a player in every way I can. I’ve mostly been playing ranked and trialing with different teams and I have no plans of giving up until I am in OWL. Currently, I'm playing with Angry Titans and we will qualify for Contenders. To be honest, I don’t do much at all IRL. I pretty much just play Overwatch, watch anime and listen to music. I’m not really an outgoing person.
You've played at a high level for quite a while now, but what meta have you found to be the most enjoyable for you to play and why is that the case?
I enjoyed the 2-2-2 meta before Mercy came in the meta, the one during Contenders’ qualifiers. I guess I enjoyed that meta because I finally felt I was getting pretty good at my main hero, Tracer.
As someone who’s played in local tournaments in the past, do you think, with OWL and Contenders being so important, those will remain the valid avenue for players to prove themselves in the future? Have local events continued existing in Norway and the rest of the Scandinavian region?
I think the tournaments outside of OWL and Contenders might not give as much exposure, but it will definitely give experience to players who didn’t qualify for contenders. I think they can also help getting exposure too [on occasion], which could help you get into an already existing good team.
I don’t know much about the rest of the Scandinavian region as a whole, but Norway has something called Telenorligaen. It is a Norwegian league that hosts [popular] games like Overwatch, CS:GO, League of Legends and etc. There are two seasons per year. In the autumn season, I played with a team, which I actually never scrimmed with, but played the official games on Sundays. We ended up winning the whole league and shared $3600, which isn’t too bad.
As someone who’s had some success and has become known within the top scene, do you have any advice for solo-queue players who are looking to transition to team play?
Honestly, I think I was very lucky. It’s very rare that someone goes from a high-ranked player directly into a top tier team. I think the key is to play so well people cant help to notice you. Make them recognize your name.
Lastly, for new Overwatch fans who might not have seen you play yet. What would you say are your strengths as a player and can you point to a specific game where they can be seen best?
I think my strength is in my mechanics and exploiting the enemy team [when they make mistakes]. I don’t really have any specific games to point to, but I’ll make sure to qualify for Contenders so you can watch me there!
I'll leave the final words for you.
I would like to thank every single person that still supports me and I hope you keep supporting me in the future. I will play my best so that I can play in OWL in the future.
If you wish to keep up with Stefan and make sure to catch Angry Titans’ matches , you can follow him on twitter, watch him on twitch and join his discord server if you’ve any more questions for him. For example, he’s an avid anime buff, but the author wouldn’t know the first thing about anime to ask him about it.
(Picture credits: Activision Blizzard, OGN)
About the author:
Hello readers, I go by the ID RadoN! I’ve been following different games within the esports industry ever since finding out about it in 2009. The titles I follow closely for the time being are Overwatch, CS:GO and Quake, while occasionally dabbling in some other games as well. If you wish to reach out, follow future content, or simply know more about my thoughts on esports and gaming, you can find me on Twitter at @RadoNonfire.