The Oceanic region is largely known for producing Blank Esports, runners-up in the inaugural season of the Pacific Championship and qualifiers for BlizzCon whilst representing Australia. However, the region has its own healthy competitive scene, made up of players from Australia and New Zealand. Drawing talent exclusively from this scene, Team New Zealand's roster features representatives from Masterminds GC, Masterminds Blue, Athletico Black and Scylla Esports.
New Zealand's World Cup roster was built around a core made up of two players from Masterminds GC, namely CantuS and HooWoo. The duo have played together since the formation of the Snakes roster that was picked up by the Masterminds organisation, with CantuS playing the role of flex support and shot-caller and HooWoo starring in the flex position. Both contributed heavily to Masterminds GC’s victory in the CyberGamer OCE Circuit LAN.
The rest of the team was then decided upon through a process of trialing individuals in scrimmages. WILLx and Signed make up the team’s DPS players. WILLx was also a member of the Masterminds GC squad that won the CyberGamer OCE Circuit and will represent the organisation in the World Cup despite leaving Mastermind’s active roster. Similarly, Signed has a LAN victory under his belt with Athletico CAMO in the ESL ANZ Championship, currently playing hitscan DPS for Athletico Black. The team’s Lucio player, birdy, was teamless at the time of Team New Zealand's formation and has since joined Masterminds Blue as a support player.
Main tank Legabril rounds out the roster. Legabril’s inclusion is one of the more interesting aspects of Team New Zealand, as he was picked due to his high rank in matchmaking as a tank player. Despite having a wealth of DPS players to choose from, New Zealand lacks professional tank players competing in the Oceanic scene. Thus, Legabril was chosen over players such as Wuvo and ColourHex, who have competed at the top of their region, albeit on roles besides the main tank position. Since being chosen for the squad Legabril has signed with Scylla Esports, gaining valuable experience through scrims with his new team alongside practice with Team New Zealand.
Difficulties were experienced when attempting to organise practice for the World Cup squad, as players had split commitments to their professional and national teams. Despite this, Team New Zealand managed to balance their schedule to ensure a satisfactory amount of practice. The bulk of their scrims have been against rosters from South-East Asia, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
A monumental task lies ahead of the New Zealanders, who share Group G with Team Brazil. USA and Taiwan. Making it to the Round of 16 is likely out of their reach due the stacked group they compete in. However, Team New Zealand can have a significant impact on the fate of the other national squads in their group, especially if their opposition underestimates them. Even a single lost map could prove to be the difference in making it out of the group.
The Santa Monica qualifier will also act as an opportunity for players on the team to experience their time in the spotlight, with once little known players to fans such as oPuTo from Team Thailand or Aktm from Team Japan earning fame through their play in World Cup qualifiers. Members of the New Zealand squad will be able to advertise their prowess to a large global audience that dwarfs the viewership of events in the Oceanic region.
The Team New Zealand roster is:
- Dale "Signed" Tang (DPS)
- Wirihana "WILLx" Owen (DPS)
- Daniel "HooWoo" McIntosh (Flex)
- Andrew "Legabril" Medlicott (Tank)
- Bailey "Birdy" Metcalfe (Support)
- Paul "CantuS" Vantlutlen (Support)