Interview with rising talent WaXeN on Romanian esports, his ‘first true esports love’ and UK esports ‘going back to where it should have been’

With a commanding stage presence, a background in Counter-Strike 1.6 and bags of passion, Romanian caster and host Vlad ‘WaXeN’ Catusanu has all the ingredients to reach the next level in esports.
He first caught our eye in the British Esports Student Champs broadcasts a few years ago, and now has the World Esports Championships and Epic.LAN to add to his name. We caught up with WaXeN at Epic 41 recently, where he cast some Valorant and CS2, to find out more about him, his favourite Romanian players, and his love of grassroots – no matter how big a stage he reaches.

While Vlad might not be as well known as some of the big esports hosts out there (yet), he’s a bit of a competitive gaming veteran, having played Counter-Strike 1.6 back in the day in his home country of Romania.

“I loved playing video games when I was younger,” he tells Esports News UK. “Then I was about 12 or 13, I would go to internet cafe lessons – essentially ICT lessons, but private – and we wouldn’t really learn ICT. We’d just go there to play video games in a LAN environment! 

“Everybody would just play Counter-Strike 1.6 – that was my first true esports love. And I played in EGL around 15 years ago – they were the prime league in Romania. They did a national gaming league, essentially the equivalent of the Premier League, but for esports in Romania. We signed up, we played a few seasons, then Counter-Strike Global Offensive came around and we did a transition.”

As the years progressed, WaXeN found his passion for performing, and thought, why not combine this with his love of esports – to present and perform on stage for esports crowds?

“The first esports work I had like this was in 2016 when I was still in Romania,” he explains. “With my move to the UK to study for university, that facilitated that. Yes the UK esports scene hasn’t been as big as Sweden or Denmark over the last 20 years, but it’s still much bigger than the Romanian one. So that’s how I started to slowly find my spot in esports in the UK, with the help of British Esports of course.

“[Former British Esports executive] Elliot Bond is at GiantX now and is doing a great job. When he was at British Esports he was one of the people who pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and pursue this as a career.”

Vlad has been working freelance with the British Esports Federation for a few years now, and has worked at three live Student Champs finals, where he has worked as an interviewer, host and caster.

“The collegiate level is one of my favourite opportunities I have, and it’s interesting to see how the scene has grown over the past four years,” he adds.

“Not just at the tournament organisational level, but at the player level. In the first few years you’d get one or two teams on a completely different level, but nowadays you have 10-12 teams per esports title showing us they can play at a high level. And they may find themselves in a tier-two slot competing with some of the best.”

From British Esports, he has branched into other tournaments, including the NSE’s British University Esports Championship, European Halo League and the International Esports Federation (IESF) World Esports Championship 2023, which saw Wales compete.

“No matter how many big events I’m going to have the opportunity of casting and hosting, I still want to be connected to [the grassroots,] the very basis of what makes esports great. And that’s why I love being here at Epic 41, because they understand what esports was like 10 years ago, and I still feel those vibes I grew up with and I love it.”


Last year’s IESF World Esports Championship was held in Iași, in Vlad’s home country of Romania.

“It was incredible [to be part of the IESF event in Romania], going home and being in front of a home crowd,” he says.

“I was there as a Dota 2 caster, one of my favourite video games, alongside Counter-Strike and Valorant. And I had the opportunity of hosting Mobile Legends Bang Bang, the most streamed and watched esport in 2023 – they have a huge community in South-East Asia, and the highest numbers in the World Esports Championship, so it was an honour to play a small part in that role as well.

“A lot of people in Romania don’t know me for my work as an esports caster, as I mostly present and cast in English. Then people were like, ‘wait, you’re actually Romanian?’” 

And ten years ago, WaXeN actually competed in qualifiers for the World Esports Championships.

‘CS has been at the forefront of Romanian esports since the millennium’

As someone who grew up in Romania, who are some Romanian esports players and teams that have stood out to WaXeN?

He says: “Counter-Strike is the game that has been at the forefront of Romanian esports since the beginning of the millennium. 

“Over the years, when I was younger, TeG (The Elder Gods) were one of our best Counter-Strike teams, back in the 1.6 and Source days.

“Afterwards we had NightEnD, our StarCraft II player. He was a top three player for a few years around 2011 I believe. And Ivan ‘iM’ Mihai is doing an amazing job in CS2 with Navi. 

“I have to mention Odoamne in League of Legends too. Fun fact, if you translate Odoamne’s nickname in English, it means, ‘oh God!’

“So we’re getting more and more Romanian talent. In CS2 if you look at the top 20 or 30 list, we have a handful of pro players, we have volt playing with GamerLegion etc. I think he’s Romanian but has lived for a big part of his life in the UK – I saw him doing an interview in Romanian the other day.”

Epic.LAN, grassroots and future goals

WaXeN had been working on the Valorant and Counter-Strike tournaments at Epic.LAN 41.

“It’s been amazing,” he says. “It’s my first Epic.LAN in person. It’s a tournament I’ve been following over the years, on and off, especially when I was younger back home in Romania.

“I always loved the bring your own computer type vibe – something we didn’t have back home. I always watched the events in Copenhagen and obviously Epic.LAN itself, and aspired to be here one day – and here I am!

“For me, this is the first time attending an event I grew up watching, and it’s everything I could’ve dreamt for and more. It’s exceptional. I feel like in the UK, the scene has grown so much only because of events such as Epic.LAN. I think they had almost 40 CS teams competing here, Valorant had I think 14 teams. 

“So the scene is growing and we saw the success that Into the Breach had at the Paris Major last year and now the community is getting bigger and bigger. We have Mezii playing for Vitality, one of the top teams in the world. 

“UK esports is going back to where it should have been for, well, a little over ten years now.”


“One of the things I really love is working with grassroots across Europe, because this is where I’m based. No matter how many big events I’m going to have the opportunity of casting and hosting, I still want to be connected to the very basis of what makes esports great. And that’s why I love being here at Epic 41, because they understand what esports was like 10 years ago, and I still feel those vibes I grew up with and I love it.

“Nowadays everything is very polished, those are the standards we want to get sponsors and we have to be very clean. And I love that side as well, but for me it’s a yin and yang, we have to be good but we still have to stay true to ourselves. So that’s my goal in esports.

“I’d love to have the opportunity to attend more international events and showcase what I can do on stage as a host, and hopefully, more opportunities in the games that I love, which are Counter-Strike, Dota 2 and Valorant.

“Thank you so much for having me and I’m a big fan of Esports News UK! I love seeing your articles pop up from time to time on live feed, keep up the good work, and I hope we can meet up soon, maybe at a different event for a different type of interview.”

Flattery will get you everywhere, WaXeN! Good luck and we look forward to our next chat.

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