One for the future: Jamppi
The second Finnish player featured in our "One for the future series", and the sixth overall, is Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen, SJ’s AWPer, who has been making a name for himself with high impact performances at a grassroots level.
Jamppi's genesis dates back to 2014, at the height of Kenny "kennyS" Schrub’s peak as an AWPer, when his friends stopped playing PlayStation 3 and picked up Counter-Strike on PC. To not get left out, he downloaded the game and started playing, eventually enjoying it more and more with time, although it wouldn’t be until years later that he would start to take it seriously. Like many current professional Counter-Strike players, Jamppi played sports competitively growing up, and it wasn’t until he stopped playing ice hockey seriously in late 2016 that he took on Counter-Strike head-on.
He started competing earnestly when he and some friends created REHTI, the first team he ever played for and whose tag he still sports on occasion during FPL-C sessions. His first appearance on the HLTV database came when REHTI qualified for King of Nordic Season 7, which they played representing Finland, and despite only winning two out of six maps he was able to score a 1.20 Rating and a 1.38 Impact Rating. He then played his first LAN just shy of two years ago, Connection LAN, in Seinäjoki, Finland, where he managed to garner a 1.22 Rating and a 1.48 Impact Rating during his team’s three group stage maps.
"I learned a lot about what it is like to play competitive CS with a real team, and about practice schedules, etc.," says Jamppi of his time in REHTI. "It was a really good experience for me since we managed to play like three LAN events. Overall, it was a great time and we are all great friends now." After another King of Nordic run and a 3rd-4th place finish in the fourth season of the Finnish Esports League following a defeat to Jani "Aerial" Jussila’s SJ, Jamppi’s best opportunity to showcase himself on LAN at a local level came when they qualified for LanTrek 2018. In the end, things didn’t quite go how the youngster would have wanted, as he had to play the event injured. "Three days before the event I somehow managed to break my right wrist," he recalls, "but I really wanted to play there. I couldn't even move it, so I played with 15 sensitivity. After the first day, we had to play the semifinals against HAVU, and that was fun with a broken hand.”
Despite an understandably subpar showing at LanTrek 2018, things panned out for Jamppi as he had already piqued enough interest to garner an offer from SJ the following month when Aerial joined ENCE and Joonas "aune" Rantala retired. "We needed a ‘new’ start for the team,” says Lasse "ZOREE" Uronen, who was playing for SJ at the time of Jamppi’s signing. "There were not many players to pick from, so we decided to give a chance to up-and-coming players." It was then that Jamppi and Tuomas "SADDYX" Louhimaa, his teammate in REHTI, were offered a contract with SJ, although it was in fact SADDYX who was first approached after standing in for them in the Thunderpick Invitational #1. “At the time, there weren't many up-and-coming talents in Finland who caught our eyes,” continues ZOREE, “and we wanted some young blood in the team, so it was pretty much a no-brainer to pick up Jamppi." With the young sniper signed, ZOREE gave up the AWP, taking up rifling and moving on to play as the team’s lurker to accommodate the newcomer.
During the early days with SJ, Jamppi struggled with consistency issues as he adjusted his play to his new surroundings. He played a good first online event, the Betspawn Cup: Nordic vs CIS, in which across 12 maps he garnered a 1.25 Rating in SJ's 3rd place finish, but then had a not-so-hot 0.98 at the Thunderpick Invitational #2, in which they went out in 9-12th place after five maps. As far as online competitions went, a good measuring stick to see where Jamppi stood was ESEA MDL, in which, despite being in a team struggling with roster issues that ended in 18th place, he was able to finish with a respectable 1.07 Rating and a 1.13 Impact Rating in their 8-8 run during the regular season. At that time, Jamppi admits that he was going through what he considers his hardest time as a CS player, since SJ “had like three roster changes in two months, and that was really depressing. I did not have any motivation at the time, but I took two weeks off from the PC during Christmas and I got it back." After a second-place finish to HAVU at the Finnish Esports League Season 5 Finals, SJ fell to Jesse "KHRN" Grandell’s and Mikko "xartE" Välimaa’s Minttu in the Grail Quest 18 semi-finals. The veteran duo signed with SJ immediately after that, displacing Samuli "Twixie" Herrala, who had just replaced ZOREE, and Verneri "BONA" Junkala from the roster, galvanizing the lineup that has remained together until this day.
Jamppi played one of his most memorable matches in November during the Bucharest Gaming Week invitational’s closed qualifier quarter-final against Valiance. SJ lost the series 1-2, but Jamppi finished with a 1.19 Rating, 1.32 Impact, 0.88 KPR, and had a stellar map on Train where he went 38-17 to help his team grab the win, 16-14, forcing the series to go to a third map. Jamppi has since kept grinding, showing that he is a level above his current opposition, particularly on LAN, with only a two-map thrashing from ENCE at Telia Esports Series Season 1 putting a dent in his otherwise impeccable record up until Assembly Summer.
As far as local tournaments are concerned, he managed to get a 1.35 Rating at Assembly Winter followed by a 1.36 Rating at LanTrek 2019, and he also acquitted himself well in Denmark, where he played the Copenhagen Games BYOC qualifier (1.28 rating) and the B tournament (1.56). In a close two-map final at the FEL Season 6 Finals on LAN against HAVU, Jamppi got a 1.50 Rating to beat SJ’s local rivals in what he considered his biggest achievement to date, at least before qualifying for the Arctic Invitational. "It was my first win ever,” he says, "and against our great rival, whom we had lost to over five times in finals or semi-finals. All of my family was watching me at that LAN, as well." Assembly Summer saw SJ get upset by KOVA—who had also beaten HAVU—in the final, with Jamppi scoring a slightly above average 1.07 Rating, a rare dip in form against local opposition this year. Jamppi’s last event to date just came to an end, the Finnish Championships 2019, and represented his team’s biggest feat so far as they qualified for the $115,000 Arctic Invitational after once again defeating HAVU in the grand final. This means that Jamppi and his teammates will now have have the chance to face at least one of FURIA, CR4ZY, or Cloud9 on LAN in the best-of-three single elimination bracket.
All in all, Jamppi has exploded as one of the most exciting prospects in Finland and in Europe, constantly putting in big performances that have not always been accompanied by good results as SJ have struggled to make a mark on any European competition, and even locally at times, despite having the country’s biggest up-and-coming talent in their ranks. The Finnish AWPer has also steadily been improving, with an astounding 1.32 Rating and 1.50 Impact Rating on LAN in 2019 as well as an 87.2 ADR and a 0.90 KPR. Online, Jamppi hasn’t been able to keep such impressive numbers, with a bigger load of matches against stronger opposition, but with a 1.22 Rating and a 1.34 Impact Rating, as well as an 81.6 ADR and a 0.80 KPR, SJ’s AWPer keeps punching well above his weight class.
When enquired about Jamppi’s style, his longtime teammate SADDYX said: "Jamppi is super aggressive and he always makes plays that enemies usually don’t expect, like going through smokes with the AWP and so on. He reminds me of kennyS in 2014." The young Finn, who has a sticker of the French star on the scope of his AWP, says that "he was one of the best players when I started playing, and I really liked his style of AWPing," although he adds that he doesn’t look at one specific player for inspiration. "I watch demos from a lot of different AWPers, trying to catch some tricks or picks or how they react when something happens so I can learn from that." As an aggressive player who soars when confident, playing such an aggressive style is something that can be a double-edged sword, especially if he is to move on to play against more experienced opponents that will punish him when he overextends and won't allow him the space to rely on his flicks and flair. “When I was more inexperienced,” explains Jamppi, “I was even a little bit more aggressive, and that was probably the biggest reason I was always so inconsistent. But as I watched more demos and got more experience against better teams I came to know, most of the time, when to do aggressive moves and when to play passively.” ZOREE agrees with the sentiment, stating that "Jamppi has the individual skill, but he is too aggressive sometimes, so knowing when to go passive and when to go aggressive will be something to work on."
Jamppi’s aggression comes out in different ways, not only pushing for YOLO plays and crazy shots, and although the Finn has a certain panache when it comes to shooting through walls while tracking enemies, flicking, and shooting so fast it’s hard to know if he’s even scoping his AWP or not, the aggression more often than not is one with less flair and involves a lot of walking around scoped when riflers are closeby and pushing deep into parts of the map that aren’t controlled to try and surprise unsuspecting enemies that are mid-rotation or completely unaware that they could be caught off-guard.
“That just comes with confidence,” says Jamppi about his style, “when you feel that you are hitting shots, then you have to use the confidence you have and sometimes it means you can take close-range battles against AKs. That’s just my style as an AWPer, it is important to be as unpredictable as you can so it is hard [for opponents] to read where you are. But it is also important to realize when you have to take the space, and when not to, and I’m still learning that."
Just as complicated as he is to play against on the Terrorist side—especially when he smells blood —, he is on the CT side, although it’s not so much about his aggressiveness as it is the map space he takes up. A pure AWPer that will always try to have a sniper rifle in his hands, Jamppi is mobile and likes to change the positions, something that is well reflected in the amount of impact he has for his teams (1.30 across the 318 maps played during his career, 1.38 in the last three months). All of the impact and playmaking come at a cost, however, and the young AWPer still needs to "find a balance between team play and making individual plays," according to SADDYX.
The sort of positive criticism that will make him grow is something Jamppi looks for, taking his ego out of the equation as he pushes his teammates to say whatever it is they have on their mind that can make him a better player. “I have Plays.tv on all the time,” says Jamppi, "so when I realize I made some kind of mistake during practice or an official match, I always watch it after the game and try to think or ask my teammates what I should have done and what to do next time. I have also told my teammates that if they see me making mistakes, that they will always tell me about it because I’m not the kind of person that can’t take feedback from others.”
When enquired about the possibility of taking on a more hybrid role, Jamppi answers that ”as of now, I would like to play the main AWP, but if at some point there is some kind of situation in which I would have to be a hybrid player, why not?“. The question of switching to a more hybrid role doesn’t come out of the blue, and although Jamppi does like to play the AWP more than anything and will get his hands on it as soon as he can and will play it as much as he can, he also frags hard with rifles when the situation calls for it, particularly with the AK. He has also been seen getting multi-kills on occasion during pistol rounds to tilt the balance in his team's favor, showcasing an ability to hit shots and make plays with more than the Big Green. Within the confines of his role, Jamppi can be seen scoping down mid on maps like Inferno or Dust2, but also playing more defensive roles on either bombsite. In pistol rounds, it’s not uncommon to see him holding down the B site on these maps, or remaining in A on a map where enemies are more prone to making a fast hit, like Nuke.
The question of expanding his horizons in-game is also one regarding his future. As a talented flourishing AWPer, Jamppi's options aren't going to be plentiful if he wants to remain in Finland. Having outgrown the local scene where there are no teams currently looking like they can make a solid push for the top 30, he may well have to look abroad if he wants to keep growing as long as Aleksi "allu" Jalli remains at the helm of ENCE, perhaps even taking his compatriot Otto "ottoNd" Sihvo's route by trying his luck in an international team. If opportunities abroad to arise, no doubt Jamppi's name will be on shortlists around the continent, but it may be hard for the youngster to find somewhere to keep moving up as the international market around the top 30 isn't a particularly dynamic one, something which is reflected by only three of the 18 teams in MDL being cross-border. If he stays in Finland, making a budget ENCE with the best pieces currently available to try and climb up the rankings and play more prestigious events could be an option, hoping to eventually get called up to the big leagues.
Regarding the human aspect, both SADDYX and ZOREE agree on the young AWPer being a good teammate to have, the former saying that “he’s the guy who’s always joking and having fun, I have played with him for a year-and-a-half now and he has never been toxic,” while the latter adds that “he’s one of the better teammates for sure! I really like his personality, he's always happy, doesn't get frustrated easily, and it was really easy to work with him." SADDYX adds that Jamppi "is a really hard-working guy, he always plays like 80 or more hours in two weeks. I respect the guys who are putting a lot of hours into the game, and hard work pays off, like it does for Jamppi.” As a player who also streams fairly regularly, it’s not uncommon to see the Finn putting in work outside of the allotted practice time with the team, as he is a regular in FPL-C lobbies.
While getting better at the game and being dedicated to his craft is very important, Jamppi does not neglect his health or mental wellbeing, stressing that "it is important to have a great mindset". That is why he plays tennis and golf weekly, to avoid thinking about CS all the time. A natural talent with a grounded mindset and a solid work ethic, the young Finn is taking huge strides towards realizing his ultimate goal: "to compete against the world’s best and to play the biggest tournaments.”