Just Play the Game: An Interview with Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni of the Los Angeles Gladiators

Benjamin Ville Aapeli "BigGoose" Isohanni / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

I actually cheered when the Gladiators won.

Yes, I did. Not only because it was the first win a Los Angeles team attained, but because I have good friends who are also Gladiators fans who shared a similar pain us Valiant fans did up until that point. So I was obviously curious, despite shaking off the rust that most teams had to have done from the off-season, as to what actually happened to finally make the Los Angeles Gladiators contenders once again and not be a part of the semi-finals slump squad that includes the inconsistent London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion along with the currently winless Los Angeles Valiant.

Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni, a native of Finland known for his stellar Lucio play, especially in this new meta, was a big part of that. I spoke to him after their win over the Guangzhou Charge last stage, which was not only important because of the win per se, but also because it was a display of how we all knew the Gladiators should be playing: efficiently and decisively. We spoke about the upcoming changes to the game, which map the Gladiators really shine in, and the question he hates getting the most (which of course is the very one I asked).

Congratulations on your win! At least LA got a win!

Thanks. I mean, we don’t really care about the wins vs. the losses. I think what was important was that we finally got to play our game.

 

That was actually going to be my first question. There was clearly a significant difference in how the Gladiators played today and how you you played before. What changed?

It’s really hard to say. I think we always practice and play on stage almost the same. But these small little things sort of snowballed into something better this time. At the end of the day, we tried to find our mistakes and our strengths and remember them so when we do go on stage, we know to nix the mistakes and simply play better.

Baptiste – Courtesy Blizzard Entertainment

 

With Baptiste coming in, as a support main, do you think he will make much of a difference in Stage 2? Do you believe the GOATs meta will die sooner rather than later?

For the meta, I don’t think Baptiste will be the main reason why the meta will change, but the patches will eventually change the overall game. I don’t think GOATs will ever die, but it will always be a niche pick, especially for counter play. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen. There will be so many changes, including Baptiste’s debut that will make an effect, but we don’t know what that will be, especially since there are so many strats available.

For example, if you play on defense on a Hybrid map, say to capture a point, you have to take into account all of these comps, and then you have to have a singular comp that is very good against all of them. You simply have to come up with the best comp possible. And then the meta is going to revolve around the counters. So there will probably be about three or four general comps to be played.

 

One particular thing about today’s match against Guangzhou was Hotba’s surprisingly effective Pharah play against your composition. Yet the recovery your team showed was pretty surprising as well. How were you able to do that?

I think that KOTH maps are in favor of the Charge, but especially Nepal; Busan would have been a much different case. We generally knew what they were going to play on Nepal, but because we weren’t 100% sure, we can’t really practice against that. It makes it hard to decide which comp to counterplay. I think in the end we could have played better, but our advantage is definitely in KOTH; because unlike in payload maps, where you have a moving objective, you can’t just have one person push the payload while you battle with the GOATs meta, because they will die quickly. With KOTH, it’s a single point to capture, and the battle is generally in or around that area, which is where we tend to shine.

Rialto. Source: Blizzpro Artist: Blizzard Entertainment

 

I think that the best example of your resilience was on the last map of Rialto, where you held the Charge to overtime in both rounds and ultimately won the map, despite the odds being against you. Watching it was definitely stressful on my end; it lasted for quite a while, so I can’t imagine how you guys felt.

Once you lose the fight, and they cap the point, it’s like (snaps), and you move on. You focus on the next fight. If you keep looking at the rearview mirror, it’s game over at that point. You can’t think about what went wrong and what you could have done better when the game is still going. Just focus on the next objective. I think it’s very important for all the teams to do that. I think that most teams can do that.

 

Yeah, there seems to be a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on these days…

I think the only way you wouldn’t be able to do that is if you were getting stomped or if you don’t know what the problem is. I can see why that would affect some people in that way.

 

I’m sure you’ve given multiple tips about Lucio, given that you are one of the best in the league, and given the shifting metas and play styles and overall individual takes on how to utilize him, but what is the one tip that you feel is imperative for all aspiring Lucio mains to remember when choosing him in the menus?

I think that the number one tip always is to see what comp you’re playing and what comp the enemy team is playing. You need to think about win conditions. You have to know your role and know what part you have in the plan. Sometimes, it may be something like speed boosting and protecting your Zenyatta, sometimes you have to make dive plays. Lucio is a very context heavy hero and that’s the best thing that you can remember.

 

Fair enough. I ask that because people need to be reminded that it is a team game and that while it seems like you have to be the one carrying the big plays, you have to work together.

It’s too hard to give tips in general for heroes, because you don’t know what heroes the player is good at and bad at depending on who they choose. And even if you did know, playing in a team environment where you don’t have much control over what your teammates do makes it very difficult to provide something general.

 

I just wanted to see how the pros feel about this type of question because I’m sure you along with everyone else in the league get ask, “How do I get better?” and having not realized that it’s context heavy and ultimately dependent on you and your team.

Yeah, I just really hate those questions, “How do I get better at X hero?” I’m like…

 

Play? Like the game?

(laughs) Exactly! The best answer is to play a lot.

 

Well, now I know what not to ask you next time. So finally, seeing the Gladiators fans out there like Gladius who have stuck behind you despite the struggles your team has had this season. Is there anything you want to say to them going into stage two?

I would like to thank all of the fans who stuck with us despite being a losing stage. I know how hard it is to cheer for a losing team; I don’t know how to put it in words. I’m glad we managed to pull out the last two wins this stage and I hope we can do better in stage two.

Brittany
Brittany "Briggsycakes" Gonzalez is a litta bitta switcha hitta Trinirican winna from Philly/New York who now resides in California as the Los Angeles Valiant's official hypewoman/meme victim. She can easily be bribed with apple pie and macaroni and cheese and thrives when writing about her own personal experiences regarding humanity's place in the esports/social media age. Don't @ her unprepared. Follow Briggsy on Twitter here.
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