Team Italy come into the Overwatch World Cup 2017 as underdogs in Group C. They will have to face a star-studded Sweden, the complete roster of Blank Esports representing Australia and a Portugal team featuring two Laser Kittenz. An unenviable task awaits the Italians in Sydney, but they have most definitely assembled a talented set of players.
You may not have heard of these players, but they have been grafting on the fringes of the European scene for a long time. The lack of high profile tournaments in Europe has limited their chances of exposure, but they have continued to take what practice they can through ESL and Gosu weeklies, many of which they played on the same team, No Heaven.
carnifex, link, fighteR and Nisa all competed on No Heaven, giving the team a good base to build around. More recently half of the Italian roster competed for UB Team, who impressed during their TaKeOver 2 Qualifier run despite failing to make it to the main event. This team featured Nisa and link again with the addition of Bimbz on support.
The final piece to the puzzle was Cerys on main tank from epok team, who recently finished third at the ESL Italia Championship. carnifex and fighteR took first in this tournament under the team One Trick Ponies and have now joined Cerys on epok. The Italian squad has a rich tapestry of overlapping roster histories which should infuse them with a natural team chemistry. Whether it will be enough to upset any of the other teams in their group remains to be seen, but Overwatch has been a game littered with upsets recently. They'll begin their campaign against host nation Australia on Friday.
To gain more insight I spoke with the team's flex player, fighteR:
Could you start by telling me a bit about yourself and your teammates?
fighteR: So I'm currently studying and carnifex has a part-time job, the other 4 are full-time players, Nisa and Bimbz are our supports and they are playing in the same team (UB team), carnifex and I recently joined an Italian team (epok), Cerys also plays for Epok and link is currently a free agent. I'm the Flex player, carnifex is the hitscan, link the flex DPS/flanker and Cerys the main Tank. We all have past experience in other fps games and everyone is good friends with each other.
Four of you played on No Heaven together for quite a while right?
f: Yeah, Carnifex and link were on the "original team". I joined last July and Nisa on September/October.
So I imagine you have a good understanding of how each other plays, have you had much practice/preparation as a full six yet?
f: We tried to keep a schedule of 2 hours each day with Sunday off. I don't think we have a great preparation but we played enough to understand our strengths and weaknesses, also we have a small community in Italy so we know how every one of us plays.
Could you tell me a bit more about the Italian Overwatch community, I don't really know much about it but saw you had ESL Italia Championship recently that you and carnifex won?
f: Yeah in Italy right now there are 2 major leagues with weekly matches that end in a LAN event. EIC organized by ESL with the last lan event at the Microsoft House in Milan, which me and carnifex won with our last team (OTP), and OPC League which we also won the last edition with the final LAN event in a theater, again in Milan.
That's really cool, more LANs than most of Europe
f: Yeah there's a little competition between these events so it's healthy for the scene.
After missing out on the LAN part of last years event, how are you feeling about getting to represent your country in Sydney in front of a live audience?
f: I think we have a big chance to prove ourselves considering last year we were quite unlucky with the group stage (Russia) and Playoff match (Sweden). I think we are at a good level and we can take our revenge on Sweden and hopefully fight for the BlizzCon spot. I'm not scared to play in front of a live audience instead I think it'll be better for being concentrating on the match.
Without giving too much away, what can we expect from Team Italy in terms play style?
f: Well right now you are kinda forced to play dive, I think our playstyle is about pressuring the opponents to make mistakes without committing to an actual fight.
I look forward to seeing it, good luck and have fun in Sydney. Any final thoughts or shout outs?
f: Big shout out to everyone who voted us on the team and we hope to make them proud in Sydney!
The Team Italy roster is:
- Edoardo "carnifex" Badolato (DPS)
- Andrea "link" Zamperetti (Flex/DPS)
- Mattia "fighteR" Cassai (Flex)
- Enrico "Cerys" Valzania (Tank)
- Federico "Nisa" Portolani (Support)
- Francesco "Bimbz" De Luca (Support)