Kalle "Zave" Haag Nilsson is a Swedish, first-generation Overwatch player. In addition to being a member of 2016’s World Cup Team Sweden, during his time in Luminosity and Misfits, he competed at the top of the European scene and is one of the few Western players who had the opportunity to participate in APEX during the tournament’s second season. Unfortunately, Misfits run there ended in the Ro16 due to being place in the infamous group of death. They lost to Lunatic-Hai, currently known as Seoul Dynasty, and LW Blue, whose core became NYXL -- who finished respectively first and third in the tournament.
After his recent announcement for retirement from professional Overwatch, we had the opportunity to talk to him about his time with the game, focusing on the time with Misfits and the trip to Korea.
Before we get into Overwatch-related topics, can you share with a bit more about your background and what level did you play at in previous games?
My background is mainly FPS games such as "Call of Duty 2" and "Call of Duty 4" promod that I played at a semi-high level back in the day. I never really competed at the same level I was at in Overwatch; it was just some small online tournaments. I also coached Starcraft for some time for Quantic Gaming and ROOT if someone knows those teams.
Before joining Misfits, you had some success with 2sTroNk, which later on became Luminosity, but how serious were you playing at the time? Was the team approaching it as a full-time job?
Before Luminosity happened, I was still working full time at my job in Sweden and playing at the same time. Some other guys in the team had jobs as well, but we all wanted this to eventually lead to something we could do as a full-time job. Signing with Luminosity was the game changer for me as I quit my regular job to pursue a full-time career in Overwatch.
It's now been a while since the famous three-way shuffle between Rogue, Misfits, and Luminosity happened. Please describe for us how did that whole process go down from your perspective, as it seemed rather sudden and unexpected from the outside.
I think, for me, it all changed when I went and played with Team Sweden for the world cup. After playing with them, I then realized that going back to my old team was just a huge step back and I really wanted to keep playing with high-tier players, like the ones in Team Sweden. I think something would have happened either way, as all the three teams were not happy playing with the [pre-shuffle] lineup that they had. But it all started at the World Cup. After that, we started talking about how we could potentially work this out in the best way possible. We were also all stuck in contracts we did not like and we felt like we wanted a new start.
After a very long and outdrawn discussion between owners and player we ended up with what everyone now knows as the “three-way shuffle” and we went our separate ways. Being stuck in a team house in Canada when all this went down was not helping the situation either.
Upon joining Misfits, you switched from flex-support to the Lucio position and Nevix who had been playing DPS in the months prior to the roster changes became the flex-support. How did the decision to switch positions like this come to be and what was the logic behind it?
Ever since I adopted the “support role” in Overwatch, I’ve always said to myself that I should be able to play any support hero. Prior to this, I had played Lucio during the World Cup and it wasn’t a problem for me to go into that role in Misfits as well. At the time, Nevix also wanted to go back to the support role and was excited to play flex for the team.
What were your personal expectations going into APEX and how did they change after you started practicing against the Korean teams? At the time, was there something different about the way Korean squads play and practice, compared to Europeans?
I had a lot of [high] expectations going into APEX S2. Earlier, when we went to IEM, we got a taste of what the Korean teams were all about. I never felt like they were that much better than us. Everything was so fresh for us still and we all had the mindset that we just needed more practice and then we would be able to beat anyone.
I just think Korean teams overall have more discipline and I could see that they had put in a lot of work. Korean teams always [show] a lot of imagination when they play. They think more outside the box and come up with different strategies that would seem weird at first but make sense in the end. Back in Europe we all just stuck with one meta and tried to just be better than the other team instead of coming up with something new.
What was the overall atmosphere on the team like during the tournament? You guys had by far the toughest group, but I recall going into the final match, against Lunatic-Hai, Reinforce was vocal about his confidence that you could get the 3-1 win to advance. To what degree did the rest of the team share his confidence?
I remember after the first match against LW Blue that I never felt like they were outplaying us. We just did not have that much time to prepare for the playstyle that they had. From a personal perspective and my own gameplay, I felt very confident and never felt like they were so much better than me.
We never had any problems with the Korean teams in scrims except LW Blue and Lunatic-Hai. As we had them in our group, we never got to scrim them as much as we did other teams. But we still felt very confident as our win rate in scrims was very high. We knew that we had put in the hours every day for the past weeks and were confident for sure that we could get a win vs Lunatic-Hai.
You've played two of the Lunatic-Hai lineups in official matches. From your perspective as an opponent, how was the first one, at IEM Gyeonggi, different from the second one, in APEX S2?
Its very hard to say, at IEM we knew nearly nothing about them and we had no practice against Korean teams and their playstyle. The second time, in APEX S2, we really felt that we were on the same level and would be able to beat them this time.
As someone with experience in both support positions who’s played against tobi and RJH, what made them so good at the time?
They have a very good chemistry between [the two of them] as they always know where their limits are; they are able to do flashy plays and still support the team at the same time. At the time, they were very aggressive and gave you no time to rest or think about your next play. Also, the whole team was always committing [together] to all the calls and you could see that in their play. For example, tobi does some insane bait in which he looks like he is out of position. Then, when we go for him, he manages to escape and as a result of overcommitting, we’ll lose the teamfight.
After APEX S2, Nevix returned DPS and Zebbosai took over the flex-support position. Obviously, you've played the same position a lot. Why wasn't it ever attempted for Zebbosai to return to the Lucio position and you to the flex-support at that point of time?
We needed some sort of a change, that was for sure, but this was probably the biggest mistake we could have made. I was very much against the decision that was made to put Zebbosai in the flex-support role. I think putting Zebbosai, who was the most vocal player in the team, on Lucio instead of me and me returning to flex-support would have been the best move for the team at the time. Nevix is such a good versatile player that he should be in a position where you can use his hero pool more. Zebbosai also did not want to go back to the role of playing main support, so this influenced the decision that was made by [the rest].
But yeah, I think if I had the chance to go back to flex-support and Zebbosai to main support than, we would have gotten better results for sure.
It was intimated by Misfits that you didn't do good enough job as a leader, but obviously, the team already had a number of what the public perceived to be vocal figures in TviQ, Zebbosai and Reinforce. How much you having to lead was something that was planned when the team formed, and how much was it expected because of the team doing poorly and you being the Lucio?
It was never [talked about] that I should be the only caller in the team. I never knew that this was an issue until it was too late and I was removed from the team. Going into the team, I always felt like I had a hard time raising my voice, as there were so many vocal players in the team. I even asked multiple times if I needed to be more vocal or if there was anything more they thought I could do to change that, but I was never told that [me not calling] was the main issue. I could never improve myself if they did not let me in and listen to my calls so I felt a bit outside at that point.
Was it to especially difficult to act as the leader when they were all coming from much more successful teams?
Yeah, I think that was a big point also. It felt like they looked down on me and I was always trying to prove myself to them. Going into the main support role and trying to call was never gonna work out for me. That's why I wanted Zebbosai to take that role [to begin with] and let me do what I do best as a flex-support. At the same time though, I really wanted to prove myself and show everyone that I could play anything. But looking back at it now, I should have fought more for the flex-support spot instead.
In other team esports that I've followed, most teams tend to have one or two vocal callers per team, with the rest of the team only sharing information. In your opinion, what is the best way to call in Overwatch?
I think there should always be one player that has the last call in everything. With that being said, I think it depends a lot on the team and what personalities you have in the team. Many teams have broken up because there were too many people that wanna take up [calling] space that is not there. Teams need to have respect for the shot caller and even if you think its a bad call that they are taking, they still need to commit and trust one and other [to execute].
As someone who's played in both international squad and a number of Swedish ones, what are the benefits of playing on a fully-Swedish roster in Overwatch? Does talking in your native language make communication easier?
I’ve had my best experiences in the Swedish-speaking teams as we had the best chemistry both outside and inside the game. I have always believed in growing together as a team and that happens much faster if you are from the same country and from the same culture for sure.
How difficult was it to maintain the motivation of playing in the lower tier of teams after Misfits, especially after OWL teams were already built?
It was a hard time for me after Misfits as I did not get many tryouts at first. Trying to get trials for OWL when you had no organization was never going to happen for me either, so it made me less motivated to play.
In your retirement post, you said you'll be returning to work full-time but also mentioned that you'll be playing "Battalion 1944" competitively with several other Swedish guys. For those who aren't familiar with the game, please give a little bit more info about it and what got you interested in it?
Battalion brings back that feeling when I first played "Call of Duty 2" back in the days. It's a fast-paced FPS game that’s similar to CoD2 and "Day of Defeat". I think it's going to have a lot of potential in the scene, probably never going to be as big as Overwatch is now, but it makes me happy when playing it so that's why it was easy for me to say goodbye to Overwatch. It reminds me of how it felt the first time I opened up Overwatch during the beta and got excited to play!
I'll leave the final words to you.
As of always thank you for cheering for me during my time in Overwatch and I hope to see you guys in the future! Also, thank you to RadoN for the interview.
(Photo credits: ESL, Activision Blizzard, OGN)
About the author:
Hello, readers! I go by the ID RadoN and I’ve been watching different esports since I found out about the industry 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.
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