Riccardo ‘Reynor’ Romiti is one of the best Zerg players in the world. At just 18, the Italian has already won IEM Katowice, 2019 WCS Summer, Dreamhack Masters Fall and a slew of other tournaments. He hit Master at the age of 11 and he started playing in regional LANs shortly after. Now, just seven years later he stands on top of professional Starcraft – even besting the most talented South Koreans that stand in his way.
Now rated as the third-best player in the world, Reynor is looking to make another deep run in this year’s Starcraft 2 tournaments. The Italian was kind enough to talk to us about his career so far and discuss his favourite moments from the past seven years. Join us as we look back on his rise to glory and the rivals that have helped push him to the top.
Not an overnight success
Some players have a moment where suddenly everything goes the way they want it to. They suddenly feel that it's clicked for them. Maybe it’s a perfect meta or a unit that they can micro to absolute perfection. However, for Reynor it was a little different.
“On my up days, I feel like I can beat everyone, that’s usually when it clicks, just when I feel like I’m playing good in my mind – I become unstoppable," he says. "Over the years I just improved gradually, I don’t think there was a single moment where I got very good from one day to the other.”
It’s moments like these where Reynor is truly world-class. He was able to beat Korean superstar Joo ‘Zest’ Sung-wook in the finals of IEM Katowice earlier this year after defeating three other top Korean players on the way to the trophy. At this point Reynor doesn’t really have any else to beat as he has already played everyone at his level. However, he does mention that a “new challenger would be great”.
While Reynor has beaten all the top players in the world at some point, he does still have rivals. He says that currently, his biggest rival is Joona ‘Serral’ Sotala, the Finish Zerg player who represents Ence and is the holder of the number one spot on Aligulac.
I like to think that I’m always on top of my game when it matters the most
“There is a new kid on the block named Clem, rumour on the street says that he’s not bad either – so I’d like to start to include him in the future” Reynor adds.
Clément ‘Clem’ Desplanches played Reynor several times in Xel’Naga Finest tournaments last spring. For now, though, Serral is Reynor’s true rival. Both Zergs have played more than 110 games against each other, with Serral winning most of them thanks to a 57 percent win rate. However, in their last six matches, three of them were a 3–2 victory for Reynor.
Reynor adds: “We’ve played against each other in so many finals, you wouldn’t be able to count the number of them on two hands."
No regrets, never give up
Even in a title as old as StarCraft 2 [the game was announced by Blizzard when Reynor was just four-years-old], staying on top of your game is very important. A lot of players will have a one-off good performance and then slowly fade away in the tournament standings. On the question of how he stays on top of his game, Reynor explains that it’s about being consistent in your practice.
“Even I'm not always on top of my game throughout the year, but I like to think that I’m always on top of my game when it matters the most,” he says. “So the tip I’d give is to stay somewhat consistent and if you want to take a break I’d stick to a one-month maximum.”
Every player has regrets, such as if they just did this one thing differently, what would their career have looked like? Even Reynor, a player considered one of the best in the world, has many – and he’s still a teenager.
“In some finals, I would have liked to pick a different build order. There are so many scenarios like that, so it’s hard for me to single out a specific one,” he says. However, most of his memories are happy ones, with his personal highlights being his victory at IEM Katowice and reaching the finals of BlizzCon 2019 after beating Serral.
For 2021, the Italian Zerg is looking forward and hoping to see offline tournaments returning. However, like everyone else, he is unsure if that will happen. “If we do go back to offline, I would love to go do a HomeStory Cup event again, those events are absolute bangers – I just love them.”
HomeStory Cup events are known for their casual approach to tournament play. Players normally get to play in a very relaxed atmosphere, which is why it’s understandable that it’s one of Reynor’s favourites. In the last HomeStory Cup, Reynor got second place, narrowly losing to Serral in the finals.
As a final tip for younger players that want to follow Reynor’s path to professional gaming, he says that it’s important not to get angry or tilted after losses. He explains that losing at games is the only way to learn and reflect on your mistakes.
He says: “StarCraft is a very hard game so it’s a must to lose at the start, just keep practising and you will get there eventually. If you want to start and only think about making money, then it’s not worth it, you need to enjoy playing or you won’t be going anywhere professionally.“
In a battle for the title of best Zerg in the world, Reynor is still fighting for that top spot in tournaments like IEM and Dreamhack this year. Will he be able to best his rival Serral? Stay tuned.