The rise of Reynor: Behind the scenes with the StarCraft II sensation
At only eight years old, Riccardo Romiti pulled a game from a shop shelf, enamored with the portrait of a grizzled space marine emblazoned upon the box. Three years later, he would sign with a professional StarCraft II team and skyrocket to fame in the European StarCraft scene. Now, at only 18, he’s a laureled prodigy and world champion—and only the second ever non-Korean to receive the title.
Catch up with Riccardo “Reynor” Romiti, the 2021 IEM Katowice champion who became a StarCraft II professional at the age of 11, and learn more about his rise to fame, his secret to winning, and what he intends to do now that he’s #1.
Childhood of a Champion
Reynor’s first foray into the Koprulu Sector was over 10 years ago, when he received a copy of StarCraft II at the age of eight. “I purchased the game together with my father,” Reynor recalls. “I remember I had to pick out a gift, and we went to a game shop. I chose StarCraft II because I liked the cover of the game box.”
Reynor spent the next three years quietly climbing up the ladder in StarCraft II, balancing his life and the prime of his childhood with the ever-increasing skills and fame he began to accrue as he neared the rank of Master, the second highest League in the game. To him, growing up playing the game was something he has always considered an amazing opportunity. “This game helped me in my real life so much, it’s hard to even describe. I learned English quite well–mostly thanks to StarCraft II—and my memory got a lot better after I started playing it.”
Years spent watching professional players engaged in whirlwind matches of high-stakes StarCraft inspired a young Reynor, who had only just begun his venture into a storied realm of esports that had already cultivated a number of legends. Reynor enjoyed watching Jens “Snute” Aasgaard, a Zerg player from Team Liquid, in particular. He considers Snute one of the most “solid” and influential StarCraft legends. “His play was always on point with his use of droning and mass queens.”
Inspired by these legendary StarCraft players that had paved the path before him, Reynor struck out on the heels of his icons and began his ascent to stardom.
Zerg Rushing into the Limelight
At the age of 11, Reynor’s ladder climb to fame escalated when he reached the rank of Master. His rapid rise in both skill and stardom culminated in mYinsanity, a Swiss esports organization, reaching out to him. “Since I started watching pro gamers, I’d always wanted to be one of them,” says Reynor. He recalls it as one of the most defining moments of his childhood. “I think when mYinsanity contacted me, back in 2013, was when I realized I could absolutely chase that dream. That experience was really important to me.”
The same year, Reynor competed in the Italian LANs [local area network tournaments, where players are connected to the same network in one arena, allowing them to play against each other over a private connection] and debuted at the DreamHack Open tournament in Bucharest. He would go on to conquer the Italian StarCraft II scene, competing in and winning numerous LAN tournaments over the next five years. At only 16, he managed to qualify for the StarCraft II World Championship Series (WCS)—the youngest player to ever do so—and clawed his way into the top eight.
The secret behind his prodigious rise through the ranks of StarCraft legends? “Brain and speed! Ahah, I’m just joking. I do think I’m pretty fast, and that’s one of my strong points,” Reynor says. “But, I have also been playing a lot. That helps, because at this point, I have a solid understanding of the game. And I think my play style has changed a lot over the years, too. When I was a kid, I was way more aggressive than I am now. I was definitely playing with less brain. Now, I still have a very aggressive play style compared to most other Zerg players, but at least my plays make more sense now than they did three years ago.”
His speed (and brain) lent themselves to his win at the 2021 IEM Katowice tournament, where he prevailed over the competition and secured his place among the esports stars, becoming the first non-Koren champion at IEM in 11 years and the second ever non-Korean World Champion. Now that Reynor’s landmark IEM victory has placed him firmly on top of the world, he has one goal: “Obviously, I want to win everything else!” he says. “I just hope I can keep doing what I love most—and that’s playing StarCraft. And thank you, to the community, for supporting us as pro gamers. It means a lot. You are the best community by far; let’s keep playing and watching this beautiful game!”
Log in to StarCraft II now to receive a free Reynor portrait commemorating his victory!