I remember when online gaming was a tiny, tiny thing in Romania. You couldn’t even call it esports. People played Counter-Strike 1.6, Warcraft, Starcraft and the original Dota at the local internet cafe and there sometimes were events where the winners got free drinks.
A few years later, Romania quickly grew into having multiple international esports tournaments per year, the best teams in the world on stage and crowds that fill entire venues. This year, thanks to PGL, Romania will be the 4th country in the world that will host a Major tournament for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The best 16 teams in the world will battle for the 250.000 USD prize, thus placing Romania between the most important names in esports.
But it doesn’t end here. Romanian players have started to conquer the ladders of the most important esports and few of them have become core players of some of the biggest teams. Armand “bOne7” Pittner is one of the most respected Dota 2 players, Dima “Rdu” Radu has quickly became a Hearthstone legend and Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu is the first Romanian player to qualify for the biggest League of Legends competition: the World Championship. In the first year in the LCS (League of Legends Championship Series), his team, H2K gaming, has managed to reach top 3 in the European Ladder. I talked to Odoamne, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.
Radu Postolache: It is known that e-sports are getting more and more popular every day. How can you describe the view people had on e-sports when you first got involved in the scene and how is it viewed now?
Andrei Pascu: When i first joined the scene, esports wasn’t anything important. It was still seen as something casual that only kids would do as a passtime, but as years passed by, it was given more and more importance due to the high number of viewers, sponsorships and generally money invested yearly. Today it is seen as a really popular industry.
RP: You are not only the first Romanian player to be in the League of Legends pro series (LCS), but your team managed to qualify for the biggest tournament in LoL. How do you feel knowing you’re one of the pioneers of the Romanian e-sports?
AP: It feels great, i didn’t expect to qualify for the World Championship on my first year as a pro. I just hope more Romanian people will treat esports as something serious and try to go pro instead of being happy just by being good at the game.
RP: Is it easy for a Romanian e-sports player to go pro, compared to players from other countries?
AP: It might be harder for Romanians to get in the pro scene just due to the environment they develop in as players, it’s a lot less serious overall but if they are dedicated they should have equal chances as any other nationality.
RP: Would you recommend any aspiring romanian players to try to go pro?
AP: It’s worth trying, you don’t really lose anything. The only time you need to make a decision is when you go pro: do you want to abandon studies and pursue your dream?Everyone should try to make it.
RP: How did your Romanian friends react when you started playing LoL professionally and how do they react now that you are in one of the best teams in the world?
AP: My real-life friends didn’t take me seriously until I first went to an international event, after that they changed their view on me as a person. Right now I think they see me as a serious person since im pretty sure nobody expected me to get this far.
RP: Did you know a few schools and high schools in Sweden now have official e-sports classes? How do you think having e-sports classes in Romania would be seen, and do you think it would be succesful?
AP: I don’t think esports classes would be taken seriously in Romania. People would just play random stuff and not care at all, just because that’s how they will see it, just as a longer break from normal studies.
RP: How would you react if the principal of your former high school would ask you to teach e-sports?
AP: I would feel honored but then again, I don’t think people would take the course or myself seriously and I don’t think that should be a proper course teached in school. Everyone should look to develop themselves.
RP: How do you see the Romanian e-sports scene in 5 years from now?
AP: Maybe a bit more active and with hopefully more amateur and pro players in every game, but I think it will be a long process that will go really slow.
RP: Do you have anything to tell our readers?
AP: Nothing much, just thank you for reading this interview and supporting me.
People like Odoamne are making us proud. Tomorrow he will be representing us in the LoL World Championship. Let’s wish him and his team good luck and all the best.
Who will be the next one to follow in his footsteps? Will the next Romanian esports star be an ace at League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:GO? Maybe something entirely different? Only time will tell, but with esports’ fast growth in popularity in our country, we can only hope it will be soon enough.