Team Ireland gears up for Overwatch World Cup in California

Celtic Wolfhounds head into international esports competition as hopeful underdogs

Members of Team Ireland visit Down Syndrome Ireland

Members of Team Ireland visit Down Syndrome Ireland

 

A team of Irish esports players is gearing up for the start of the Overwatch World Cup in the United States, with the three day event kicking off on Thursday.

Team Ireland, aka the Celtic Wolfhounds, is hoping to make its mark on the competition, which pits expert players of Blizzard’s team-based first person shooter from around the world against each other at the BlizzCon 2019 event in Anaheim, California.

The Irish team is compiled through a mixture of a community vote to choose key team roles and open trials.

“Anyone can be part of Team Ireland,” explained general manager Andy Bohan. “It’s not just about if you can get the most kills. It’s also about if you are good at strategy, for example.”

Players must also prove they can work well together, leading to the final A-roster that has travelled to the US.

Along with Mr Bohan, coach Brian Scriven and community leader Connor Lockwood, the travelling team includes seven players who have made it through trials and team practices to be named as part of the roster.

That includes rising star Liam O’Donnell, who is one of the three “tanks” – players who protect allies and are equipped to take damage – on the Irish team. The 18 year old from Kildare has been trialling for a couple of the Overwatch League teams in the US, and has the potential to be the first professional Overwatch player in Ireland.

Adam Treharne, a DPS (damage per second operator) whose job is to inflict damage on rivals, has also gained a large following on streaming platform Twitch.

Team Ireland funded its trip to the tournament through sponsorship deals with Marvin.ie and Royal Court of Breifne, and by selling jerseys. Although the required funds have been reached, the team will keep selling the jerseys until November 30th with the proceeds to be donated to Down Syndrome Ireland.

Unlike some other esports tournaments, the prize fund won’t see a million dollar payday. Blizzard hasn’t officially revealed the prize pool, but last year saw participants earn a flat fee of $16,000 each. The appeal of the World Cup is pride in representing your country, and bragging rights for the winners.

The Celtic Wolfhounds are underdogs going into the tournament, but the team has been performing well in Europe.

“The team we have built is beating teams like Spain, which has Overwatch pros, in practice sessions,” said Mr Bohan. He classes the team as “mid-tier”, with a decent chance of success. “Give us a couple of years.”