Seven years. Four teams. Three domestic finals. Rogue’s LEC Summer victory was a long time coming for top laner Andrei ‘Odoamne’ Pascu, who has finally arrived at the goal he’s been chasing his entire career.
Esports is a pretty young industry.
Especially in League of Legends, you’d be hard-pressed to find a professional player over the age of 30. There have been hundreds of players who have passed through the competitive circuit, entering at ages as young as 18, spent a year or two at the top of their game, and then unceremoniously retired or moved to another league. All before the age of 25.
There are those who have stuck around – and Rogue’s top laner Andrei ‘Odoamne’ Pascu is one of them. He’s been a stalwart of the European League of Legends scene practically since its inception and has consistently been one of its better-performing players.
But in all seven years of his career, he never once won a domestic title.
His greatest claim to fame was an incredible Worlds 2016 semifinal run with the now-disbanded H2K back, who were the best-performing Western team at the tournament despite not even being the first seed from their region.
But he did not even play in a domestic final (outside of regional Worlds qualifiers) until Spring 2021, where he qualified for a finals series versus MAD Lions. He’s arguably been one of the best Western players to never quite make it for the past eight years, and his career has been tinged with heartache.
That was, until he 3-0’ed G2 Esports in the LEC Summer finals and lifted the first trophy of his esports career at the age of 28 — after 478 games on the competitive stage.
To understand quite how momentous this Rogue victory was for Odoamne, let’s start from the beginning.
He began his career like a lot of professional players — bouncing around no-name organizations playing in online tournaments for cash prizes.
In 2014, he joined Cloud9 Eclipse, the European branch of North American organization Cloud9 – competing in multiple FaceIt challenger invitationals and the EU Challenger series, the tournament a tier below the EU LCS.
He was with that team for a mere four months before joining H2K Gaming, with whom he reached the EU LCS in the second year of his career. The team finished in third place in both the regular season and the playoffs of both Spring and Summer 2015, barely qualifying for the 2015 World Championships, where they failed to make it out of groups.
But 2016 was the year that H2K, and Odoamne, really kicked things up a notch. Their regular seasons in Spring and Summer were uneventful, qualifying for playoffs in both splits and making it to Worlds 2016 as the EU LCS’s second seed.
Nobody expected much from H2K heading into that World Championship. That was, until H2K topped their group with a tiebreaker victory against LPL representative Edward Gaming and beat CIS representative Albus Nox Luna in the quarterfinals, making it to the semifinals.
They were not the first European team to make it to the semifinals – both Fnatic and Origen had done so the previous year. But they were an underdog story. Nobody expected them to do anything close to as well as they did that year, and it was a landmark moment in the careers of every single one of those players. Odoamne included.
But 2016 was very much a case of pride coming before the fall. 2017 was an uneventful year for Odoamne and H2K in which they did not qualify for Worlds, and he left the team in November after having been with them for almost three and a half years.
From there, he briefly played for Splyce but left the team after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Championship. He moved on to Schalke 04, where he failed to qualify for Worlds in either 2019 or 2020. He had officially hit a career slump, and there were doubts as to whether he’d ever reach the high heights of Worlds again.
Things finally started looking up in 2021, when he left Schalke 04 to join Rogue. With Odoamne in the top lane, Rogue qualified for their first domestic finals since entering the league at the start of 2019. It was also Odoamne’s first-ever final in a major tournament anywhere (barring a rogue Rift Rivals victory with Splyce). It did, ultimately, end in a reverse sweep loss to MAD Lions, but it was a start.
Summer 2021 came and went without Rogue qualifying for finals, despite having finished the regular season in first place. It was arguably this year where Rogue’s reputation as chokers began – a reputation that Odoamne has hotly refuted time and time again.
Spring 2022 brought disappointment once again, this time in a 0-3 finals defeat by G2 Esports. The second near miss in as many years, on one of the best regular-season rosters in the LEC. Faith in Rogue’s ability to pull off a successful playoff run was at an all-time low heading into Summer 2022.
Their playoff run got off to a strong start with a surprise 3-2 victory versus MAD Lions, keeping them out of the gaping maw of the loser’s bracket and propelling them straight into a matchup versus G2 in the second round of the winner’s bracket.
That strong start was short-lived, with G2 dismantling them 3-0 and sending them to the loser’s bracket. They’d be going to Malmo, but they’d have to break through the impenetrable wall of a playoff-buffed Fnatic to make it to the finals.
It’s safe to say that Fnatic were the favorites heading into that semifinal – both from an analyst’s perspective and for the hordes of Fnatic fans in the Malmo arena. And with the first game going dominantly in Fnatic’s favor, that presumption looked to be pretty accurate.
Game 1 was, frankly, pretty rough to watch. It was one of the worst games of the split for Rogue’s mid/jungle duo, who went a combined 3/11/6 on Vi and Ahri. It was a poor start, but it was the kind of game that had arguably come to be expected from Rogue in all-important situations.
But as if from nowhere, a switch flipped for the team in game 2 – and from there on out it was smooth sailing as they cruised their way to a 3-1 victory over FNC.
And even though he was relegated to Ornn duty, Odoamne still managed to solo kill Martin ‘Wunder’ Hanssen in lane while diving under his tower. The old man has still got it.
Only one more barrier stood between Odoamne and the goal he’d been chasing since 2014. And that barrier was G2 Esports, who’d defeated Rogue 3-0 only one week prior to the final.
With LEC analysts predicting G2 victories across the board, expectations on Rogue were minimal to nonexistent heading into the matchup. Even after they won the first game of the series, it felt as though the entire arena was waiting for the hammer to fall, and for G2 to pick up their game and take the series 3-1.
But that didn’t happen. Guided by a motivational speech from Odoamne before the start of every game, Rogue won their first-ever LEC title, and the first LEC title for every single player on the team.
Watching the LEC Mic Check for that final, fateful series, is a beautiful encapsulation of Odoamne’s role as a player and a person in his esports career.
Before every single game, he was the levelheaded voice encouraging his team forward. During tense in-game moments, he directed the flow of every shot called, stopping his younger teammates from panicking or overhyping themselves.
Holding back tears on the stage of the Malmö arena, Odoamne lifted a trophy eight years in the making. In multiple post-game interviews, he explained how none of it even felt real – even going so far as to say that he could barely remember anything from the moment G2’s nexus exploded in the third game.
And everything he’s been through in his career was, in the end, worth it. The reverse sweeps, the playoff disappointments, the years of slumps — every doubt led up to this, one of the greatest moments in a pro player’s life.
During his post-game interview with Laure Valeé at the LEC finals, he told the crowd that “there were times where I was like: ‘I don’t want to be remembered as one of the great tops of EU but the guy who was just always a loser and never won anything.”‘
And he won’t be remembered that way. He’ll be remembered as the player who, after years of trial and error, finally got it right.