I don’t give a damn what my stats look like
“Every day I can see Jamppi getting better and better.” This comes from Team Liquid’s coach, Sliggy.
If you’ve kept up with Team Liquid’s fraught, awkward, and mostly unstreamed run through the past few qualifiers, then you’ll know a bit about Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen’s growth. As a player, he leans into a high-risk style that opens up himself and his entire team to sudden successes and failures.
Basically, he’s the kind of player who isn’t afraid to peak.
He’ll check corners, take duels, make wide swings, and try to land a no scope with one of the most temperamental (unscoped) guns in the game—the Operator. Well before Valorant, he did this in the Finnish CS scene for SJ and eventually ENCE. At that time, he was one of CS’s most promising rising AWPers.
Of course, that all came to an end when Jamppi got hit with a ban from Valve-hosted Majors for an anti-cheat flag that was linked to an account he’d given to a friend. Valve’s ban basically shut him out of the tier 1 organizations in CS and forced him over to Valorant. He’d finally receive an unban this year—right in the middle of Europe’s Valorant qualifier and the biggest FPS tournament he’s ever been in.
“He’s such a fast learner,” Sliggy continues. “Honestly it’s been really satisfying and fun just to sit behind him and talk about some of the stuff that he does and honestly just watch him grow in this game.”
You see that fast learning in the qualifiers, where Jamppi is electric off of only playing this game for 2-3 months. His skill with the Operator is sharp at long and close range. His play is still very high-risk but now it’s seeing more reward. Compared to past qualifiers, there are less moments where he’s handing a man-advantage to the other team off of a bad duel and more moments where he’s firing Liquid up with a strong forward play or steady lurk.
The steady lurks and more patient sides of his gameplay come to show in his agent pool. His trademark Jett is what enables him to play combat Operator. Her mobility lets him push out into enemy territory to get a surprise pick then dash out before he’s traded out. His new Killjoy lets him try a style that’s more focused on denying space and ambushing opponents.
For Sliggy and many CS fans, this lethality is what they knew Jamppi for. However, a big part of Jamppi’s value as a player, now and since the ENCE days, is in the way he motivates his teams.
“The kid’s great, man. The only thing we kind of knew about him before we picked him up was his skill. I didn’t realize how good the whole palace was, like the mentality, the motivator. He’s everything the team needed. He’s great.”
An Interview with Jamppi
What got you into esports? How did you find the world of the FPS and did you have any interest in sports before that?
I used to play ice hockey for about 10 years, since 2006 and I stopped playing in 2016. Probably got into esports at like 2015. I got CS:GO in 2014 but back then I didn’t even know what was esports. I will say at the start of 2015 I started to watch my first pro games.
What’s your confidence level in the team and how likely do you think a TL win at Reykjavik is?
Of course I don’t wanna sound cocky but I think we have a pretty good chance to win it. I think that level we showed [at EMEA Finals] is not even our full potential. Like, the chemistry we have in our team is super good. I’ve never experienced anything like this before in my teams, that everyone gets along so well together and we have fun together when we hang out.
And [there’s] the individual skill we have right now. I think we peaked at the right times when we were playing the qualifiers but I think we have improved still so much from those. I’m really hyped about the tournament.
Does it feel like a team of friends in a sense?
Yeah, maybe. It’s not always a good thing that you have friends in your team but it’s like a good level of friendship and working together.
Is there any player that you’re looking to face at Iceland?
Mmm, not really. Maybe I’d just want to play against Sentinels. It’s not just one player. They’ve been dominating the NA scene so I would like to face them.
What did it feel like to win a European major and go on to your first international major but all in Valorant?
Hmm, of course it’s good but maybe if you told me this one year ago maybe it was not [chuckles] what I hoped for. But right now I’m super happy and just like I said a couple days ago, I'm super committed to this—Valorant—and I just want to win everything.
It was so close, we went in both qualifiers but then we made it after all, so it’s a super nice feeling after tough losses before.
You got unbanned in CS but it came at like the weirdest time. What was your feeling? What was your feeling around that when Valve dropped that ban?
It was kind of mixed feelings, I would say. Of course I was super happy, it was like a kind of relief—[something] off my shoulders—when I got the unban thing but it came at a bad time. It mixed my mind a little bit. You know when you basically fight for the unban for so long and then suddenly when you’re in an important Valorant qualifier and you get unbanned and you start to think, “What if I go back to CS?” and stuff like that.
But I thought about everything and then I closed it out for the qualifiers and I think I did pretty well, even.
What won you over to Valorant? What’s keeping you in Valorant?
Just the game. I like to play with a bunch of people in the community and our team and our organization and stuff. When I use time at something, I know [whether or not] I can be good at something. When I used time at this I realized that maybe this game is also, you can say, made for me. I really like and understand the game.
I think just, I’m willing to win. I want to win and win as much as I can in my career. It’s all I care about right now.
Is there anything in Valorant that you feel like you enjoy more than in CS:GO? And vice-versa are there things that you enjoy more in CS:GO than in Valorant?
I think in Valorant it was the willing[ness] to learn everything again. It was like you start from the—basically 0. I played CS for 6 years, so you kinda learn a lot of the game but when you come into new game you just had to grind like everyday.
I would say since I started 5 months ago, I would play average like 8 hours a day just to grind the game, learn the game. That’s one of the keys that I enjoyed: to play again a lot. A lot of playing and learning.
Did it help you to learn Valorant, to have a lot of CS:GO veterans on the team—like ScreaM, Soulcas?
I think, yeah. They basically shared like a past. They basically knew—because they had been playing since the beta—they basically knew what [to do]. They’d give me advice on things, what they learned about things when they started.
I think that’s really helpful and it’s part of why I have improved a lot lately—and also our coach Sliggy. He has also been a huge part of my learning process I would say.
With ScreaM being one of the better Jett players in the game, did his being there and having those tips for you, did that influence your Jett at all too?
Mmm, maybe not like [that] straightforward. I first got it from Sliggy. He just told me to play duelists so I played every duelist and then I saw pro games like [with] ScreaM and Mixwell where players like that will play to awp. I mean, ScreaM didn’t play awp but I tried to learn from those Jett skills.
I think he has also given me a lot of tips, some kind of dash things and stuff like that. We have a little bit of a different style, I will say, in Jett but I think it was also a nice thing to have an experienced Jett player on your team.
Your Operator no scopes have sparked some discussion in the Valorant community. Some people say that the way the no-scope Operator works that no scope shots are kind of lucky shots. How do you feel about the no scope Op and how certain do you feel when you’re aiming and taking these shots?
I think it’s just a confidence thing. I think it’s a lot of luck but you need to have the confidence to do it. At some point you know, it’s better to take the risk that you hit the no scope than try to kill the enemy some kind of else way. Because I will say that some points, when you take the no scope and you hit it, it's the right choice and if you try something else you would lose that duel anyways.
How do you use this weapon so effectively without the scope? Is it an understanding of the spray and movement around the weapon or more of the ranges that a no scope is likely to work?
I think it’s more about the range. I think in close range it’s good, you can still hit it a lot of [times]. Also I think it’s a lot about your movement also, I think you can control the spread, where the bullet is gonna hit. You cannot control where it’s gonna be but you can control where the spread will go—like how big is that gap where you’re gonna hit that no scope—with your movement and crosshair.
It’s still full of luck where it goes but you can minimize the gap [spread] of where it’s going.[...] When you are no scoping with the OP, there’s a kind of circle and you try to minimize where it’s gonna hit within this big circle.
Is there some advantage to no scoping because it fires the team up? Because when I hear the comms and you get those no scopes, everybody goes crazy. Is it a good thing for your momentum or for the team’s momentum?
Yeah I think so, but it’s not like I do the no scope to hype my team up. If I hit one of those it gives a lot of confidence to my teammates and also the hype that you can do stuff like that, basically. [...]
You’re just not gonna think about mistakes. I think it’s just a confidence thing that you give your teammates that you can try stuff like that—no scoping—which is most of the time almost stupid to do. Sometimes it gives your teammates confidence to do something.
This is something else I think about looking a lot at your career: it seems like you add a lot to team atmospheres because you’re really excited and you’re really quick to hype up your teammates. Have you always had that kind of attitude or was it something that you kinda learned worked or learned was helpful and started applying it?
I think it’s just who I am. I think it’s the passion of the game, the willing[ness] to win, and I just want my teammates to feel comfortable when they play. Let’s say someone misses, then he’s gonna think about it. “Oh my god, I missed this round!”
I try to hype the team and him up. Let’s say someone makes a mistake, we don’t care if someone makes mistakes—or I don’t care—so I just try to cheer everyone up so they can play like they normally do. [...]
It also feels like it gives more focus, I will say. When they see I am hyped, it might come to themselves also that they need to be more focused and hyped.
Back on ENCE, actually, suNny said that he felt you had this enthusiasm that was impossible to extinguish. I’m curious if you know or if you’ve ever thought about this before. Where do you think that excitement comes from? When did you first start feeling that for an FPS game?
Probably in my first LAN or something when I saw that I enjoyed winning and I hate losing. Maybe not even that. I think it’s been my whole life. When I played Ice Hockey I always hate[d] losing.
There was some points where I was getting so angry because we lost and I don’t think [pauses] I don’t think when you play something competitively, you should learn how to lose. I think you should always get mad—whatever, you lose [a] qualifying game, not important game, some kind of competitive game you play.
I think you should always play—not mad—but it should always feel bad to lose. And of course it’s important to learn from the mistakes and losses. I think you learn more from the losses than you learn from the wins.
You came into the team very much as our go-to Jett player but now we’re seeing you switch to Killjoy as well and build that pool out a little bit. Are you looking to build your agent pool out further?
Of course. I think it’s an important thing to mix it up, that everyone can play a lot of agents. I think it was against Fnatic, someone tweeted about it. Every player in Fnatic and us played 3 agents, except me.
But in the future I think it’s gonna be really key to adapt in many situations. Depends who you play, how you play, so you have many things to improve with different agents but I don’t think it should be too much. I think it’s like a max 3 or 4 agents. I mean it depends how many agents there are in the future, but…
What do you think for you caps it at 3 to 4?
You might get too confused at some point and I think at least for now, how many agents are there? 16 or 17?
It limits the cap at some point. I think sometimes it’s useless [to pick up some agents]. Let’s say we have 2 Viper players right now so it’s kind of useless, [for] me to start learning the Viper. So I think it just limits the agents right now at least. But let’s say there’s 100 agents in 2 or 3 years, I think then you can be learning more agents.
Are there any particular agents that you really like playing or would like to throw in a competitive match if you could?
Yoru. It’s one of my favorite agents to play in ranked a ton. [...] I think he’s a useful duelist at some points.
Do you feel like the character has a good utility with his steps and his ult and his teleport or is there anything else that makes him stick out?
I think the ult and also the flashes. I think the flashes are actually really good because you actually cannot see the flashes before it pops. Just like right before it pops. Especially now when you have Viper walls and Astra walls so extra flashes is always good.
Yeah, and that fits your playstyle really well too. Speaking a bit on the playstyle too, the aggressive playstyle has also been a big topic of conversation and I think it’s because it’s a high risk style that can look really good or really bad just depending on how the game goes. How did you go about tempering your style and how do you find the right moments to go aggressive?
At some point, I don’t give a damn what my stats look like. So sometimes when I just do some aggro plays, the intention of that play is to make space for my teammates and get some information. So I don’t give a damn if I go 0-7 or 7-0 when I do some aggro plays.
Even though some maybe [do] not agree, I calculate the risks of the play. So, what if I get the kill? How good is it for our team? And if I die, how bad is it for our team? Sometimes it also depends on that [risk calculation]. When I’m gonna do some aggro plays is it even worth the risk? Because there’s always the chance of dying to something.
Aside from winning, what gives you the most joy when you play Valorant?
The team atmosphere and just being together with some people. I think that’s the thing.
I’d assume, but was that the same in CS?
Eh, at some teams yeah. I think right now it’s just enjoying the game with basically the same kind of people that I am. I feel very [at] home when I’m playing with these guys. I think that’s, at least for me, that’s the most fun: to play with the same kind of people, who have the same goals and the mentality you usually have.
Bonus round: Guitar Hero
I’m going to ask you what I think will be the most serious question of the interview. Be sure to think about this very heavily. Who is the best Guitar Hero player on the team?
It’s me for sure.
What’s your go-to [song]?
Some kind of Metallica song I think. I think they’re always nice to play. I dunno, I haven’t played that much lately.
Do you do the guitar most, the drums, the vocals?
No, actually. I can play the drums pretty okay but the guitar, that’s what I’ve been playing for 14 years. Since the first one, I think it came out in 2006-2007, for Christmas I think we got it. I was like 6 at the time.
What’s your skill level? Have you done Through the Fire and Flames before?
Yeah I’ve got it 99% but my goal is still to get it 100% at some point.
[To Sliggy] Jamppi, he told me that he believes he’s the best Guitar Hero player on the team and I’m curious, you as a more analytical mind, maybe more objective as the coach…
Sliggy: [chuckles] Okay…
What do you think?
Sliggy: He is outrageous at this game. He’s outrageous, dude. He has it on his PC and he did this thing where he was like talking to me but he wasn’t looking at his screen and he was still getting 100% on certain maps. I was just like, “Yeah man, okay, fair play. You can have it.”
He’s definitely earned the title. Soulcas is pretty good, to be fair, but yeah Jamppi is just ridiculous. It’s like the stuff you see on YouTube man, it’s crazy. Mate, he loves it as well, he absolutely loves it. But I mean he’s one of those guys that is just super talented at a lot of things, it looks like.