By Nickolas Carroll
Alex “BigALL” Marconescu is a star on Mizzou’s nationally ranked Overwatch team and began his competitive career long before collegiate esports.
It all started when Marconsescu’s family migrated to Missouri, from Romania, and he began playing Team Fortress 2 as a kid. He was a part of the competitive scene in the old-school popular game until his friend told him that he wanted to make an Overwatch team. At first, he was not interested and had no intention of leaving his favorite game. But, one day, he decided to at least give the new game a chance. It was on this day in 2016 that he fell in love with Blizzard’s team-based shooter game.
At first, he was just playing casually and played in some small tournaments with a group of friends. The more he played, the deeper he dove into the competitive scene and began to have a goal to play in the Overwatch League, the professional league for Overwatch, produced by Blizzard.. In 2018 he started playing in the Overwatch Open Division in an attempt to make the jump to the Contender’s Division. He was on the grind; honing his skills, attending a local community college, and working a part-time job. He mentioned, “I was getting maybe three hours of sleep, I hated it, but I needed to make some money.” As he continued to improve he finally began to play like a contender. “We were super successful, we beat academy teams (paid contenders) and placed 4th in the division that season,” Marconescu said. It was at this point he decided to quit his job and put more of his time towards school and gaming. With the extra time, he was able to improve exponentially and even get a tryout for the Overwatch League.
After a year of community college, he transferred to The University of Missouri to study mechanical engineering. He decided on Mizzou to stay in-state and try out for the Overwatch team. At first, he was totally focused on schooling as gaming fell to the backburner. “When tryouts came around I knew I was going to make it, I mean my track record was pretty good,” He said confidently. Since then Mizzou has had tons of success and is considered a top-tier team.
When asked to compare the two experiences, he said, “It was a lot more fun playing as the underdog, [and] unless you’re playing the top three or four teams in college it’s pretty easy.” Marconescu also talked about how playing as a tier two semi-pro team doesn’t offer much financial compensation, especially compared to scholarships that are becoming more and more available in the collegiate scene.
He hasn’t considered the role of competitive gaming in his future, as he is more inclined to search for a career in his studied field. However, he did say that “I do love the game and it’s still hard to just give up, I think I’ll come back to it casually in the future.” He left with some advice for those who are interested in playing Overwatch competitively, “The gap between contenders and pros is awful in this game, I would point people towards playing in college because there is more money and opportunity available.”