The life of an esports professional is often short-lived. In a game such as League of Legends, most players consider life after the Rift by their mid-20s. While much of the game’s old guard, like Yiliang ‘Doublelift’ Peng and Søren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg, have now passed the proverbial torch to a new generation, there are those who continue to pursue glory, hungrier than ever. Few embody this quite like Rogue’s latest signing, Andrei ‘Odoamne’ Pascu.
A mainstay in LoL’s European scene since the days of the online EUW Challenger Series, the 25-year-old Romanian has consistently endeavored to make his presence as part of the region’s top lane elite known. First entering the EU LCS with H2k-Gaming in 2015, Odoamne went on to reach the Worlds semi-finals with a monstrously talented roster, which featured the likes of Konstantinos-Napoleon ‘FORG1VEN’ Tzortziou, Marcin ‘Jankos’ Jankowski, Ryu ‘Ryu’ Sang-wook, and Oskar ‘Vander’ Bogdan, in 2016.
Since then, however, Odoamne has failed to make Worlds despite solid runs with both Splyce and Schalke 04. While he might not have reached the same heights as that stacked H2k squad, Odoamne’s consistency and drive to succeed have helped land the veteran toplaner a spot at Rogue; a team which, for the first time in its short history, reached the Worlds stage last year.
At a time when the majority of European teams are looking to fledgling talent to spearhead them forward, Odoamne now finds himself in one of the region’s top teams.
Now, heading into the 2021 LEC season as the most senior player in his position, we sat down with Odoamne to talk about the offseason, his personal ambitions, and his plans for Rogue.
The Loadout: Picking up a little bit from the state of affairs at the end of last season, how was the transition from playing in the LEC studio to playing from the team house?
Odoamne: I was actually kind of nervous going back to playing online, which is kind of funny because there’s less people. But it was bringing back all of these emotions I had when I was first starting my career, because back then online was the only thing we knew so every time I would go into a game I would be nervous. So that brought back some nostalgia, at least for the first couple of games until I got kind of used to it. So it wasn’t really a big deal, it was just a cool throwback.
Are there any lessons or thoughts that you’ve taken from Schalke’s miracle run that you’re bringing into 2021?
Not specifically from that run, but overall from the season I learned to be more selfish, and use my teammates as much as possible without disrupting the balance of the map or the team to put myself in the best situation to be able to perform well.
I feel like it’s a really important trait to have, because I’ve been in really good rosters where I just accepted playing weak side to fit in with the team. But I feel like I’m capable of having a more hands on approach and taking control of games now.
Thinking about your competitive history, firstly as a swimmer, and now as a League pro, what keeps the competitive fire burning in your belly?
I think it’s mostly just habit. It’s all I know because I started swimming when I was five, and up until I was 17 it was my whole life. So up until that point, 80% of my life was just competing and trying to become better. And once swimming stopped and I went into League, it’s the same environment in the way that it still brings the same level of competitiveness, and you still have the same goals and mindset that you need to get better and be better than others.
I feel like it’s gonna be hard when I stop competing, because it’s gonna be like ‘what now?’ Because my whole life has been a competition. Even when I’m going home or taking time off from League, after a week I’m like ‘what am I doing? I need to get back into it. There’s no time to waste.’ At the moment there’s no relaxation mode for me where I feel like I can do something else, and when I stop it’s gonna be a big shock because I’m gonna have nothing to compete for anymore.
I remember from your old H2k spotlight that you were going to go to university if you didn’t make it into the EU LCS. What would you have done, and is it something you would consider going back to when your League days do come to an end?
I’m not sure if I can still do it after my League days are over, but what I wanted to do was computer science. Even though I was really into physical activities, I still enjoyed the geeky side of things so that was my main idea until League took over.
But when I stop I’m not sure if I want to go back to the same thing, because my interests have changed over the years, so I still need to figure out what I want to do when everything stops. But I probably want to still be in the League environment – in the competitive scene – maybe coaching or even just as the waterboy for the boys. Just anything to stay in this environment. It’s gonna be interesting, but it’s still quite a long way away right now.
So let’s come back to the here and now, as once again like in the H2k days, you have that double Polish pivot in the jungle and support. What are your thoughts on playing with Kacper ‘Inspired’ Sloma and Adrian ‘Trymbi’ Trybus?
It’s the first time in some years where I get a roster that I feel is as good as this
I’m really hyped to play with both of them. I’ve already played in the same league as Inspired for nearly two years now, and I feel like he’s up there with the best junglers so I’m really happy to work with someone like him.
Trymbi is really talented and outspoken for a rookie, and has a lot of solid opinions that he sticks by. Most of the rookies I’ve seen during my career have been more shy silent types, so it doesn’t really feel like he’s a rookie in terms of communication and mindset. There may be a knowledge gap, which is normal for a rookie, but I feel like the mindset he has would make it quite easy for him to bridge that gap.
Have you had a chance to play with your new teammates yet?
Yeah I’ve gotten some games in, though there’s still some work to be done. The thing is, I’m the new person, so I want to be careful in my approach. In my other teams I was kind of the centrepiece when it came to opinions, strategy planning etc. But here I don’t want to barge in and be like, ‘hey guys, let’s do all of these things!’ because I don’t want to cause chaos by disrupting a system that has worked for the team for the past two years or so.
So I’m just taking my time to fit in, understand what the mentality of everyone is, and how they feel comfortable playing. And once I get to that point, I can maybe start giving my input on what I feel is good or not.
You’ve joined a Rogue squad that has just been to Worlds. What does this step up mean to you?
It means quite a lot, because it’s the first time in some years where I get a roster that I feel is as good as this. And I feel like it’s one of my biggest opportunities just because I get to play with players that are so talented – it’s one of those chances that I need to make the best out of and show how good I can be in a better setting. I feel like if I don’t make use of this opportunity, then when will I?
So thinking about the teams that you’ve been a part of over the years, is this perhaps the most promising since that H2k squad?
Yeah, it’s pretty much comparable to that, but I didn’t really have a lot of experience back then. When I was playing with Jankos and the boys I was just trying to play for the team, and I wasn’t really selfish, and I had a lot of knowledge gaps – I didn’t really know how to make use of all the tools that I was given.
And now that I’ve been through environments – for better or worse – there are things that have stuck to me that I can apply, and I feel now’s a good time to make use of all my knowledge because this roster is as good as the H2k roster back then.
Schalke has now picked up Sergen ‘Broken Blade’ Çelik. With the likes of İrfan Berk ‘Armut’ Tükek coming into MAD Lions and Mathias ‘Syzgenda’ Jensen into Vitality, are there any new additions to the LEC that you’re interested in matching up with in the top lane this season?
I’m not sure actually. There are four rookies this year, but I feel like none of them are at the Rasmus ‘Caps’ Winther level where they’re super insane and they’ll make their mark. I feel like they’re just replacing the lower end of top lane talent with rookies and it’s a question mark. But I hope that they’re really good so I can actually have more people to struggle against and get better. If you have no one to do that against then it gets boring, because you feel like you’re not getting pushed and you’re not being forced to get better.
I’m here to win and get back to my level of always being in contention for being the best top in EU
That’s what happens when you go to Worlds, and that’s why everyone is so hyped because you play against people that are better than you and you get stomped for like a week or two. But after two weeks you start beating them and then it just feels good because you got better. So I wish the new top lane guys coming into this league are really good so I can get my ass kicked for a bit.
Are there any players that you’ve actually been surprised to not see picked up during the offseason?
I was surprised a lot about Fabian ‘FEBIVEN’ Diepstraten because I feel like his Spring Split was really good, and I feel like he’s better than some of the EU mids that are making it into the league – there’s a kind of mentality now where they just want to pick up rookies because they think that they might be better than the veteran in a couple of years. It’s fair, I guess. But I’m not sure how fair it is to players like FEBIVEN who are not making a team now because of it.
For Juš ‘Crownshot’ Marušič I guess that there might have been a mismanagement of deals. There was a limbo with what was happening with Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsson, Luka ‘Perkz’ Perković, Elias ‘Upset’ Lipp, and Crownie – three teams for four players or something like that. And when you’re in a situation like that – because I’ve been in a situation like that – it sucks but you have to take the first option you get, or else you’re gonna be out of a job.
It’s a hard situation, but you have to make a sacrifice somewhere – you can’t wait for Fnatic when it is looking at like three other people. It doesn’t really make sense.
And obviously you got the call from Rogue…
Which I’m very happy about! When offseason started I told myself and my agent ‘I want to go to Rogue.’ – that’s not bullshit by the way.
Travelling back to Berlin today to meet the squad and get back to work. Can't wait to get back into it 💪🏻
— Andrei Pascu (@OdoamneLoL) January 3, 2021
And what are you here to do with Rogue this season?
I’m here to win. That’s the most important thing for me this year at least because, coming from all these years where I wasn’t on top, top teams, I feel like I’m here to win and just get back to my level of always being in contention for being the best top in EU. And I’m here to push my org and team to greater heights with my level of gameplay, strategy, and everything else I can bring to the team and the coaching staff.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the Rogue fans coming into the season?
I hope you aren’t super upset by me coming over and replacing Finn ‘Finn’ Wiestål, because I know that he was your baby and you guys were the same team for two years and had great results. But I’m here to hopefully push the team to greater heights.