Last night, fan-favorite Timo "Taimou" Kettunen made his highly anticipated return to the Overwatch League against the New York XL. The young Finn had not played in the starting lineup this season and had vented his frustration about it on twitter, which he later took down.
It also seems his time on the bench didn’t dull his skills. Throughout the match, he dominated his counterpart on NYXL, Jong-ryeol "Saebyeolbe" Park, even though the Dallas Fuel ultimately lost a close game. Still, there’s a lot to learn from watching the game through Taimou’s point of view.
The match starts on Oasis City Center, and after a close first fight, Dallas takes control of point A on the back of Taimou controlling NYXL’s tanks with multiple hacks. Having won the first fight, Taimou has a big ultimate advantage on Saebyeolbe and opts to use his EMP immediately. Hiding in a side room, Taimou initiates a fight in an unorthodox position and hits several people with his ult. Both of New York’s supports are quickly taken care of as a result of this decision.
As the map continues, Taimou manages to charge a very quick second ultimate while SBB is still sitting on his first one. Now lapped in EMPs, SBB looks for an EMP himself, but in a huge play, Taimou manages to completely shut down the fight by catching the South Korean with his own EMP first.
NYXL, now down by a serious amount of point capture percentage can’t muster a comeback. Taimou finishes the point with two more EMPs used than Saebyeolbe, outclassing him here.
On Gardens, it is once again Taimou who comes up with the important first, flanking kill on Saebyeolbe (sadly not captured by the observer), which eventually helps the Fuel to gain control of the point.
Still in the neutral, NYXL reengages and kills Closer. For Fuel to retain point control, they need a counter-kill quickly. Dallas once again focuses on Mano, and while his HP drops, Taimou baits him into an unfavorable position, quickly disposes of him, and translocates away with less than 20 HP. This allows the Fuel to hold onto the point for valuable capture percentage.
As both Sombras get their EMP and use it at the same time, New York wins the fight due to a Graviton Surge advantage. With the Fuel at a 70% point control, NYXL finally gets the percentage ticking up for them. Dallas takes a neutral fight and gets two ultimates out of NYXL for the price of a mere Nano Boost from Jonathan "HarryHook" Tejedor Rua, who during this point also lands two very clutch sleep darts on Mano.
NYXL goes for another play on the back of a very quick second Graviton Surge by Yeon-kwan "Nenne" Jeong, which captures much of the Fuel. Mano smells blood and jumps in to cleave through the crowd of enemies. In a judo move of a play, Taimou once again makes the clutch call to solo EMP Mano, who dies due to heavy focus fire and a clutch Winston bubble by Ashley "Trill" Powell to keep Mano from being healed.
Baited in by Saebyeolbe’s EMP engagement that hits nobody, Mano once again finds himself alone in the middle of the Texan team and gets sleep darted, hacked, and taken out.
Throughout the point, Taimou found several ways to hack or EMP Mano to keep the main tank from applying his usual pressure, which at times led to important kills that eventually helped the Fuel close out Oasis.
On Dallas’ attack, the Fuel lose the first fight, but both Trill and Taimou get a valuable tick by back capping. Down the line, this will be important.
The second fight turns into a poke battle, in which the Fuel manages to bank a lot of ultimates. New York’s one win condition would be to have Saebyeolbe hit a huge EMP on the stocked up Fuel. Taimou, being aware of this, once again manages to capture SBB in his own EMP. This contributes to his opponent’s demise, as he can’t translocate to safety away from Zachary "ZachaREEE" Lombardo, who finishes him off.
Reacting to Harryhook landing another sleep dart on Mano, Taimou hacks the maintank and Dallas takes point control.
Due to the previously gained tick by Taimou, NYXL is left with little time to re-engage and even ends up wasting a large chunk of their own ultimates, including SBB’s important EMP. The Fuel take the point with relative ease. During this attack, Taimou once again charges his ultimate almost to completion, lapping Saebyeolbe for the second time in the series.
Dallas tries to snowball, but due to impressive defense play, NYXL can hold on to the point. While Taimou used his ultimate during this engage, he leaves the point with an incredible 60% ultimate charge. This allows the Fuel to have an EMP available with limited poke during the very next attack. Seemingly randomly, Saebyeolbe gets picked up once again before the fight even happens, and the Fuel flood onto the point with a man advantage.
New York now needs to stall until their team captain can respawn, so they take a defensive position on the corner of the point. Since both Sombras have their ultimates ready, it once again comes down to who can pull the trigger and hit the other one first. And yet again, it is Taimou who gets one-up on Saebyeolbe, which the Fuel can convert into a point capture with a solid three minutes left on the clock.
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For their defense round, the Fuel choose the Orisa, Hog, Junkrat, Widow, Mei and Mercy composition which we got to know from Anubis last year. Saebyeolbe has another blunder by stepping into a Junkrat mine trap, which kills him instantly. Taimou has a quiet first two engagements while he lets his team take care of the opponent.
On the third wave, Taimou decides it’s time for him to impact the match and takes an aggressive angle. This allows him to pick off Sung-hyeon "JJoNak" Bang. In good ol’ Taimou fashion, he continues to push the angle and forces Hae-seong "Libero" Kim out.
Finally, NYXL catches Taimou with a sleep dart from Jjonak, and Saebyeolbe manages to shut Taimou down, leading to a hard fought point A capture for NYXL.
As the Excelsior push in, the fight seems to tip in their favor, until Taimou stops Taesung "Anamo" Jung’s dance around the statue by hitting him in the head. He then converts Trill’s Halt onto Jjonak into another support kill.
Saebyeolbe, as the Sombra player, is forced to find plays which he has failed to do so far in this match. Trying to harass Trill, he decides to use his Translocator to find a better angle for an EMP engagement. For the nth time, Taimou has his number, as he lies in wait on top of the teleportation device and instantly domes Saebyeolbe for a large chunk of his life total before finishing him off with submachine gun fire. It’s yet another attack where Taimou stops an EMP ready Saebyeolbe.
Without skipping a beat, Taimou takes audacious angles in hopes for a pick. Knowing his limits, Taimou pulls back and a fight ensues that costs both teams many of their ultimates. Now almost in the neutral, it’s once again Taimou who finds a pick onto Jjonak, which delays the NYXL once more. On the last fight, Zacharee scores two big entry kills, and the Fuel manage to close out the second map on Paris, too.
Guess who dies first on Dallas’ attack onto Hollywood Point A? It’s, once again, Saebyeolbe who gets laid out by Harryhook’s right click. This allows the Fuel to take position onto the point and get two ticks before SBB can rejoin his team.
Retreating into the café, Saebyeolbe finds a revenge kill onto Harry, but the fight isn’t over for the Fuel. Fortified in the small room, they wait for an opponent to make a mistake. Guess who makes that mistake? You already know.
Saebyeolbe first bungles his translocator and then continues to try forcing himself onto the top floor of the café, where Zacharee and Won-sik "Closer" Jung are waiting for him. As “SBB LULs” erupt in Twitch chat, Dallas aims to convert this mistake. While Libero manages to kill Lucas "NotE" Meissner, Taimou lands an EMP onto Libero and crucially, Nenne. The Zarya, now with her shield health down, is quickly taken care of. Taimou turns onto Mano, who he manages to hack him before the Fuel follow up with a kill. Dallas get point A served on a platter.
Taimou finishes the fight with 70% charge while Saebyeolbe has yet to use his first EMP. As the second fight breaks out, both teams trade and it once again comes down to which Sombra can find more value. Taimou farms his EMP to completion quickly while Saebyeolbe is zoned with low HP and no entry to use his own EMP. Keeping score, Taimou at this point has used two ultimates, which both turned the tide of battle, while Saebyeolbe is still sitting on his first.
On the next fight, New York’s Sombra finally finds a big EMP and they clean up, even getting a Transcendence out of Harry. The Fuel have to fight out of the neutral and have to try to drag some of the ultimates out of the NYXL. Taimou’s next EMP doesn’t get enough value, and his teammates find themselves with almost no time left in the bank and one last hail mary play to go for.
Armed with EMP, Rally and Graviton Surge, Taimou has to trigger overtime on the cart. Now decloaked, Mano tries to hit Taimou with a Shatter under the cart, but “Mr.Good-Aim’s” reflexes are too quick as he translocates away. Regrouping with his team, Taimou notices a vulnerable time window on NYXL’s rotation, and once again goes for a solo EMP onto Mano, which shows a huge payoff and the Fuel can capture point B.
In the second to last fight, Saebyeolbe hits his second big EMP of the match and Mano manages to convert it into a fight victory with a huge shatter. Left with little time to engage, Taimou is forced into an early EMP that doesn’t manage to make a difference, and NYXL hold the Fuel just before point C.
The Fuel try a page out of Chengdu’s textbook and put Taimou onto Ashe. While he gets a couple of chunky dynamite hits, he has a very quiet Point A and B defense, and eventually switches to Sombra. Dallas’ Hollywood defense dissolves into many half-hearted fight attempts, which neither SBB or Taimou impact very much. New York pushes their opponents without much resistance and push the cart in with ample time left.
After map 3, Taimou is switched out for Dylan "aKm" Bignet. In total, Taimou’s play ranged from tame to hugely impactful, and he should be considered MVP for at least the first two maps. His ability to completely outclass an admittedly struggling Saebyeolbe should give the Fuel hope and increase Taimou’s aspirations for a future starting spot.
Perhaps it is fair to say that Taimou did lose steam on map 3, and that it was the right time to substitute him for the always solid AKM. Nevertheless, Taimou demonstrated in the series that he still has it in him to play at a top level in the Overwatch League.
The game isn’t over till the large man aims.