Romania squeaked into qualification for the group stages of the 2017 Overwatch World Cup. Now that the European country has nailed the 32nd seed, they share a group with China, Hong Kong, and Norway. The Romanian roster only features one player well-known among Overwatch fans worldwide, main tank for the Bazooka Puppiez, Meza. Advancing out of the group stages will certainly be a challenge for Meza and his compatriots from along the Black Sea.
Romania isn't a country with just one established Overwatch pro, however. Team Romania will be playing without Team Liquid Genji shadder2k. Meza, who is not only playing tank for Romania but is also on the country's committee, said about shadder, "While I would've liked for shadder to participate, I do think that his 'replacement', so to say, is a pretty talented player." Meza continued, referring to whether or not shadder's absence giving more unknown players a chance to get noticed was healthier for the Romanian scene, "It's really hard to say if it's healthier for our scene though, I think he would've brought a lot more attention to the team with him also being a big streamer besides a pro player."
Meza remained optimistic of Romania's chances even without shadder's presence on the team. "Even though they aren't really known in the scene, individually each player is very strong and I'm sure that even if we're considered underdogs we might be coming up with a surprise," he said. "For us the main objective is to get past our group, then we will see from there," Meza continued before noting their challenges. "If we qualify in our group as 2nd place it's going to be a tough one, most likely against France which I think is the team that's going to take the Cup home."
Team France is not the only challenge Romania faces, however. "We've been training on average 15 to 20h max per week, but my main team's schedule and the exams of some players did limit our training time a bit." In fact, Meza says that two of Romania's players are studying at university, while another is also working.
Challenges, scheduling, and activities outside of Overwatch aside, Meza is not the only player on this roster with experience in organized Overwatch. mL7 and Ranknomoja share a semi-pro team called IDM, while tsema is on another semi-pro Romanian team called Nexus. Although the Romanian scene is still rather small, Romania's committee was sure to pick from the best for the Romanian faithful. IDM and Nexus are the top two teams in Romania, according to Meza. Meza is confident about the caliber of his teammates and the opportunities the World Cup will give them, adding that he believes some of them might find a chance to get into the Overwatch pro scene after the World Cup is over.
Meza is a man of the people and decided to conclude the interview with, "I just want to thank all the Romanian players that worked really hard when the World Cup was announced. We were only at 36th place in the ranking and it didn't look like we would be able to reach top 32 and qualify for the group stage, but everybody from Platinum to Top 500 worked hard to raise the rating to get us there, we hope that we will offer a good show and hopefully we can finish top 2 in our group."
The Team Romania's roster for Shanghai will be:
- Adrian "cucubau" Cucu (DPS)
- Nicolae "RANKNoMoJa" Savu (Flex)
- Cristian "EMKA" Ratiu (Flex)
- Mihail "Meza" Cristian Păunecu (Tank)
- Mihai "mL7" Lupascu (Support)
- Andrei "tsema" Iliescu (Support)
- Victor "VoVo" Ioan Tutuianu (Team Manager)