Paul 'Jonny REcco' Whyte, formerly of Team Infused, recently rose to prominence by placing third in the UK StarCraft II World Championship Series (WCS) tournament, qualifying for the WCS European finals, and later also qualifying for the TeamLiquid StarLeague 4 (TSL4).
Jonny REcco's potential has long been clear to the UK StarCraft II scene, but this was the first time the 16-year-old Zerg player demonstrated his skill to the wider StarCraft II community. Now REcco has been added to the roster of Team Dignitas, the UK's biggest team of pro-gamers.
On the team's recent acquisition, Team Dignitas manager Michael 'ODEE' O'Dell told us Team Dignitas had been looking to add a Zerg with world-class potential to its line-up because it previously only had Chile-based KiLLeR. As a UK team, says O'Dell, Team Dignitas is always interested in UK players.
On joining the squad, REcco said: "Joining Dignitas will give me a lot of motivation and will help me to improve in many different ways. I'll try my very best to give top performances as I represent Dignitas while I am with them."
TSL4 victory against troubled NaNiwa
The announcement of REcco's addition to the Team Dignitas roster was made on the day of his first TSL4 match against NaNiwa, one of the strongest international competitors. Though many observers wrote off REcco as a no-hoper against the high-profile Swedish Protoss player, a few saw potential for an upset in the opening round. Those believers were rewarded when Jonny REcco swept NaNiwa 3-1, advancing to the round of 16 in convincing fashion.
Post-match, the normally stoic REcco admitted he was worried after his loss in game three and that his hands were shaking after winning the final match. He also said he had been worried when he saw his first round opponent would be NaNiwa.
He said his preparation for the match against NaNiwa included watching replays and vods of NaNiwa's Protoss versus Zerg battles, including his Global StarCraft II League games against DongRaeGu and his WCS Sweden matches.
Fans may have noticed NaNiwa has been having particular trouble with the Protoss versus Zerg match-ups of late--an impression echoed by REcco, who said NaNiwa was playing an outdated style. REcco also said NaNiwa was a little on tilt in this match-up after his recent losses against Zerg in the GSL and WCS. NaNiwa himself said he played these games straight after his elimination from WCS Sweden and was very disappointed.
First overseas LAN woes
Despite REcco's initial group containing formidable opponents such as DreamHack Summer winner MaNa, many had slated REcco as the favourite to win this initial group stage. Before the games started, REcco seemed calm and confident when speaking to hosts Geoff 'iNcontroL' Robinson and James '2GD' Harding.
Losing his first game 2-3 to Korean Terran ForGG was not a huge upset, but REcco's following performance against Polish Protoss MaNa was not up to his usual standard. Although his loss against the expert Protoss was not a total surprise, it was the manner in which it was delivered, REcco losing the series 0-3 to be eliminated from the tournament entirely.
Perhaps nerves got the better of REcco at his first big overseas tournament, but fans will hope to see a better performance from him at the upcoming European WCS finals. Before the tournament, REcco had said his dream match was to face and defeat mighty Korean Protoss player MC. It seems he will have to wait a little longer to test his mettle against the Protoss President.
REcco "young and feisty", says manager
It seems Team Dignitas has had its eye on REcco all year and, due to the teenager's growing skill and presence, has been looking to add him to the squad for the past two months. As for the upcoming overseas tournaments, team manager Michael O'Dell says he just wants Jonny REcco to play his best and that he expects some nerves from a young player at his first big overseas LANs.
Team Dignitas is hoping to help Jonny though the experience with guidance from veteran team mates Apollo and Bischu. We are told to expect to see Jonny at big tournaments in the future--but as far as progressing to Korea goes, it is still early days for the young player.
There have been some mutterings in the community of bad manners, rage, and unsporting post-game comments on the StarCraft II ladder from REcco. Team Dignitas says if this is an issue they will help to fix it. "He is young and feisty, these are things he will learn to channel positively with us" said O'Dell.
On the subject of the 16-year-old REcco's continuing school education, O'Dell said Team Dignitas considers education vital, and will always encourage team members to stay in school and get their academic qualifications.
O'Dell also confirmed Team Dignitas is looking to contract NaNiwa, formerly of both Team Dignitas and American squad Quantic, to its roster. This would be a big pick-up for the UK team as its current roster lacks a top-end tournament winner--something NaNiwa would add to the group.
If you caught the recent TSL4 games, let us know what you thought of them. Do you think the teamless NaNiwa will be headed back to Team Dignitas and, if not, where to next?
What did you think of REcco's performance in the ASUS ROG tournament? Has this young player been over hyped or did his nerves just get the better of him? You can also follow the ASUS Republic of Gamers tournament on the official Twitch streams and ESVision stream.