March 1st, 2021 – celebrations are in order for the Italian esports audience after yesterday the QLASH professional player Riccardo ‘’Reynor’’ Romiti became World Champion in one of the most acclaimed PC titles out there – StarCraft 2, taking down the IEM Katowice 2021 title.
The Italian prodigy made history after becoming the first non-Korean to win the IEM Katowice event since its inception in 2013. It usually sees thousands of people flock from all over the world to the Spodek Arena located in the centre of the city in Poland. However, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 36 final contenders had to battle it out online from the comfort of their homes.
The event took place between February 20th and February 28th and was the final tournament of the ESL Pro Tour 2020/21 Circuit also known as Masters Championship 2021. Simply participating in this final stage is already a great success for most of the StarCraft 2 professional players. The finals had a total prize pool of $250,000 and provided the viewers with a lengthy and intense battle between the very best the world has to offer.
Reynor finished the group stage of the finals in 2nd place out of 6 players and then navigated through four different playoffs in his road to this incredible accomplishment. In the Ro12 he defeated ‘’Stats’’ 3:2, then in the Ro8 had to overcome a 2:1 deficit to defeat ‘’Dark” again with the result 3:2. Amazingly, the semi-final against ‘’Maru” was even more dramatic as Riccardo managed to come back from 2:0 down thus making his way to the grand final with three consecutive 3:2 wins. This showed that even though Riccardo is just 18 years of age, he possesses immense winning mentality and a heart of a true champion.
The grand final was against ‘’Zest’’ and this time Reynor managed to get to a better start and a 3:1 lead before closing out the series with a 4:2 final score. Everyone that follows the StarCraft 2 scene even barely would readily recognize all these legends of the game that Riccardo had to defeat and after the tournament the commentators and viewers alike felt the trophy was in the most deserving of hands.
We had a chat with Riccardo and asked him a few questions. Understandably, he was extremely excited but also tired at the same time. Below the interview and some insights into the mind of a genius:
Q: Hi Riccardo, can you tell us your first thought after you realized you are the new champion at IEM Katowice?
A: Well obviously I was completely overwhelmed and honestly, I wasn’t really thinking. I couldn’t believe it and it was definitely one of the best feelings ever. I couldn’t stop smiling for a long time!
Q: Do you perceive this as the biggest tournament of the year effectively crowning you as world champion and the best player out there?
A: Yes, this is for sure the biggest tournament of the year and it is the kind of tournament everyone wants to win and comes seriously prepared for. I feel like winning here is a pretty big statement I because everyone gives their absolute 100%.
Q: Which was your hardest match and how did you manage to come out on top?
A: My hardest match was versus Maru where being down 0-2 was kind of rough but I felt good even when I was losing because I knew I was playing well, and I just had to fix a few things in my playstyle and I could get him in the following games. Luckily, my change of mind actually worked, and I managed to take it with a very hard-fought game 5!
Q: Did you feel tired at any point, what does it take to stay focused for such a long event?
A: During the group stages towards the end, I was really really tired, and I felt like I had played for 20 hours already. My brain was shutting off, so I had to drink a nice ice-cold red bull and barely pulled through (laughing).
Q: What does it mean to be the first non-Korean to win the Katowice event?
A: Definitely feels amazing to make history but I don’t really think at these types of things too much, especially before the tournament is over. I didn’t even know how much money the top 4 would get and I just checked after the tournament (laughing).
Q: Is there something you would like to say to all the QLASH fans out there?
A: It is so important for me to know that people are cheering for me and hoping I win, so thank you guys so much. I couldn’t have done it without you and of course thanks to QLASH for the support they have provided me with!
Q: What's your personal expectations from 2021?
A: I am a big fan of winning so I will try to keep it up (laughing). But for real, winning this event is such a big confidence boost that I am pumped for the next tournaments to see what I can do and to prove everyone I can continue like that!
Riccardo is such a genuine person that it is always a pleasure to talk with him. We at QLASH are extremely happy with this result but also for Riccardo who is a well-deserved StarCraft 2 World Champion for 2021!