While Team Ireland ultimately exited the World Cup after just one best-of-five series, the experience was certainly valuable for the players and staff of the Celtic Wolfhounds. One such player is eighteen-year-old Liam O’Donnell from Kildare who is one of the country’s most promising talents. Before his stint with Team Ireland, Liam had played extensively in amateur leagues. Once the national team announced they would be holding open tryouts, Liam jumped at the opportunity. When asked to describe his experience with Team Ireland, the Kildare man was nothing but positive. “My experience with Team Ireland was amazing. It started out rough with the tryouts, as most open tryouts do, but once the team was selected and we were scrimming consistently it was really good”.
Despite being the youngest member of the team, Liam was designated as the “in-game leader” for the team. This meant that it generally fell to him to quickly formulate a strategy amidst the ever-changing chaos of an Overwatch game. Though many would consider this to be a daunting task, Liam took it in stride. “Naturally, as the main tank, you are always, at least somewhat, the leader of the team as you are the centre. For most of my previous teams, I have been that kind of leader. I didn’t find it daunting at all actually, whether it had been previous Overwatch teams or previous soccer teams, I’ve always been a leader”.
Losing in the first round after so much preparation and effort must’ve been disappointing, especially considering Iceland was a team that Ireland had previously beaten in practice. When asked what he thought of the match, and if the Wolfhounds were simply outmatched on the day, Liam offered an explanation for the loss. “I definitely don’t think we were “outmatched” as we have always gone toe to toe with Iceland in scrims. I think the main issue was that they were our scrim partners and knew our “off-meta” strategies. Because of this, they had an answer for them but I do think if, on the day, we played to what we were capable of we could have beaten them.” The combination of a slight underperformance and an unlucky draw proved to be Ireland’s downfall. Despite the loss, this World Cup has been instrumental in creating community infrastructure for future trips to the event.
As mentioned earlier, Liam is one of the most promising young Irish talents in the scene right now. So much so that back in April prominent Korean coach Yoon “Runaway” Dae-hoon commented on Liam’s play, calling him the next Bumper. For those unaware, Park “Bumper” Sang-beom is one of the best main tank players in the Overwatch League. Liam was honoured to be praised by such a famous coach in the Korean Overwatch scene: “I honestly didn’t believe it at first when I saw the screenshots. It was such an amazing feeling to get recognition from such a big name like that”.
Recognition like that and an unforgettable experience like travelling to Blizzcon to compete in an international tournament would inspire anyone. Predictably, Liam is excited at the prospect of pursuing a career in esports. “The experience of travelling to Blizzcon and playing there has definitely inspired me to pursue this career path. Playing in competitions like that with so much adrenaline flowing and so much on the line is an unbelievable experience that I definitely want to experience again”. He went on to confirm that the next step in his career is finding an Academy or Contenders team to compete at the next level. Keep your eyes out for Liam in the coming months, we may have a future star on our hands.