After announcing his retirement, does ZooMaa go down as the greatest player to never win a ring?
With an average placement of 5.94 and 6 major tournament wins, it is undeniable that Thomas “ZooMaa” Paparatto is without a doubt a legend of competitive Call Of Duty, however, without winning the elusive ring at the Call Of Duty World Championships, ZooMaa may go down as the best player to never win the big one.
Where it all began
Beginning his competitive career in Call Of Duty: Ghosts alongside Search and Destroy players, most notably future star Thomas “TJHaly” Haly, the team placed an impressive 9-12th in their first LAN event at UMG Philadelphia, immediately solidifying themselves as potential dark horses for future events.
However, his real stamp on the scene was made when his roster qualified for the pro league and were picked up by then-notable organisation Denial Esports. Under the Denial banner, ZooMaa saw his immediate rise to prominence pay off, winning his first LAN event of his career alongside James “Replays” Crowder, Renato “Saints” Forza, and Jeremy “StuDyy” Astacio at UMG Dallas 2014.
During the early stages of Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare, it seemed like business as usual for the SMG star, picking up multiple top-four finishes on the Denial roster that had now added Dillon “Attach” Price to the lineup in place of StuDyy. However, in what seemed like an obvious move at the time, ZooMaa took the offer to join FPS giant Team Envyus with veteran championship-winning players such as Joe “Merk” DeLuca.
Although in hindsight this move would end up poorly for ZooMaa, with the Denial roster that he left behind going on to win the world championships, leaving many to wonder if he was the problem on the roster, given his team's poor 9-12th finish at the event.
ZooMaa would put these questions to rest during the second half of the season after joining FaZe Clan, the organisation on which he enjoyed the most success of his career by far, after a string of second-place performances, losing out to the OpTic Gaming dynasty roster on multiple occasions.
They appeared to be one piece away from being able to really challenge OpTic for the best team in the game. The roster of Ian “Enable” Wyatt, James “Clayster” Eubanks, and former teammate Attach was finally the roster to do that. The team would go on to win three of the remaining tournaments, beating the dynasty roster multiple times including one of the most memorable grand finals in Call Of Duty history coming back from three – one down to win the best of seven series four – three. This would solidify ZooMaa’s position as one of the best in the world and alongside his teammates, potentially the best team in the game.
Following the highest of highs from his Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare season, nobody could have ever expected that ZooMaa would now be on the longest winless spell of his career. Coming close with numerous second-place finishes at events such as CWL Paris 2017 and third at CWL Dallas 2017 on Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare, it seemed that FaZe Clan were always the bridesmaid and never the bride in the competitive Call Of Duty scene. Culminating in a disappointing fifth/sixth-place finish at the 2017 world championships, once again ZooMaa had fallen short on the biggest stage of them all.
This spell would come to an end in somewhat surprising fashion, when his underdog FaZe Clan roster managed to win the CWL Pro League 2018 Stage One Playoffs, defeating OpTic Gaming in the finals in a thrilling series. After two and a half years without reaching the pinnacle of the game, ZooMaa once again tasted glory at LAN.
Going into the world championships of 2018, ZooMaa’s FaZe went into the event under the radar after multiple poor results before the tournament. Although, in what many saw as a shock run, he managed to get his closest to a ring, finishing third at the tournament.
In the past two years following his most recent win, ZooMaa has hinted multiple times at potential thumb injuries hindering his ability, leading him to be unable to perform at his superstar best that fans had grown to know him for. Although, even in his worst spells, ZooMaa and his teams could always pull off an upset out of the blue, which was shown in what now appears to be his final major tournament victory, winning the CDL New York Homestand.
Unfortunately for all involved in the community, the chance to see ZooMaa on LAN has now gone following his retirement, and even more so for the man himself, the ever-elusive ring that would have put his name in the history books as one of the greatest of all time seems to have surpassed him.
Whether or not ZooMaa will ever be able to overcome his health issues and return to competitive play is yet to be seen, but what is known for definite is that ZooMaa will always have a place in the community, either as a content creator with his personality, or as on-air talent with his years of high-level experience.
Images via MLG | Denial Esports