This week’s profile looks at FaZe Clan’s Thomas ‘ZooMaa’ Paparratto.
Once derided as primarily an online player, ZooMaa first began to build a name for himself as a Search and Destroy specialist. During Call of Duty Ghosts, he began to transition into playing respawn game modes as well and attending his first events.
Having qualified for Season 2 of the MLG CoD League, ZooMaa’s squad were acquired by Denial. Although the squad qualified for the international playoffs at MLG Anaheim, a last-place finish prompted a major team shuffle, with the squad rebuilt around ZooMaa.
The new team – now featuring prominent pro players Renato ‘Saints’ Forza, James ‘Replays’ Crowder and Jeremy ‘StuDyy’ Astacio, was an instant success, picking up victory at UMG Dallas on their very first outing together. Despite now being surrounded by high-profile names, ZooMaa continued to distinguish himself as a potential superstar.
It was in Advanced Warfare, however, that he completed his ascent to becoming one of Call of Duty’s superstars. After transitioning with Denial into the new season, ZooMaa would move to Team EnVyUs for a stint before finding himself on FaZe Clan.
The first iteration of the FaZe squad challenged the dominant OpTic Gaming in a couple of finals, but didn’t look in much danger of actually toppling them. After losing in the grand finals of the MLG Pro League Season 2 Playoffs, ZooMaa and Ian ‘Enable’ Wyatt teamed up with Denial duo and World Champions James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks and Dillon ‘Attach’ Price.
The squad would go undefeated against the previously indomitable OpTic for the rest of the season, picking up three championships during which ZooMaa himself was praised as one of the best players in the world.
ZooMaa remains a member of that FaZe Clan squad today, although recently the team have been through their first team change in over two years. Despite their success towards the end Advanced Warfare, the team had a much less successful year on Black Ops 3. Though results picked up noticeably in Infinite Warfare, as the year progressed the team remained without a championship win.
Things finally came to a head after a top-16 finish at CWL Anaheim, and a change had to be made. To some controversy, it was James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks on the chopping block, with Peirce ‘Gunless’ Hillman, one of the rising talents behind eUnited’s success, brought in as a replacement.
The new FaZe roster was unable to pick up its first trophy on its debut, instead coming in at 5th/6th at the Global Pro League Stage Two Playoffs. The squad were arguably unfortunate to run into both eventual grand finalists EnVyUs and OpTic Gaming, but the placement leaves the team still looking to prove themselves as they head into this year’s Call of Duty Championships.
With multiple trophies to his name, it’s difficult to isolate a single greatest achievement for ZooMaa. It’s easier to narrow down a time period – between the formation of the FaZe Clan roster that held until recently, and the end of the Advanced Warfare season.
During that time, ZooMaa helped to push his squad to three major championship victories, taking down the god-squad of OpTic Gaming in all three grand finals. ZooMaa was arguably in his prime on an individual level, and the team became the first to ever deny OpTic Gaming of multiple trophies.
If a single event were to be selected, however, it would probably be the Gfinity Summer Championship. Offering a $50,000 first place prize – one of the biggest pay-outs of the year outside of the Call of Duty Championships – it was only the second event the then-new FaZe had competed at.
Having previously won UMG Dallas, the squad were looking to prove that they weren’t a one-hit wonder, that they could go toe-to-toe with OpTic on a consistent basis. The two teams would meet in an epic best-of-seven final in which FaZe came back from a 1-3 deficit to win 4-3. The match was an instant classic, and also the first time OpTic had fallen short at consecutive events since the addition of Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter and Matthew ‘FormaL’ Piper.
In his rise to the top, ZooMaa quickly developed a reputation as one of the fastest players in the game. While he’s experimented with an Assault Rifle at times, ZooMaa is at his best with an SMG in his hands.
Particularly during Advanced Warfare, ZooMaa was a player to get up in the enemy’s face and force as many interactions as possible, making space for his team and drawing attention away from the dominant riflers. In prime form, ZooMaa would become a one-man wrecking ball, not only taking more fights than any other player but winning most of them as well, almost single-handedly forcing back opponents.
In Search and Destroy, he became known for this aggressive behaviour that it practically became a meme: everyone knew the “ZooMaa flank” was coming, but he retained a remarkably high success rate nonetheless.
Today, ZooMaa is a little more conservative in his play, having amassed more experience at the highest level and learnt when it’s better to reign in the aggression.
Like almost all Call of Duty professional players, ZooMaa is no stranger to a range of social media sites. His largest following is to be found on Twitter, boasting more than 278,000 followers, though ZooMaa hasn’t dedicated quite so much time to content creation for sites like YouTube and Twitch as some of his fellow competitors. An active Instagram makes up his second most popular account, with over 138,000 followers.
Unlike some, ZooMaa generally isn’t a particularly divisive or controversial figure. Typically coming across as humble and honest in interviews, even those who may support fierce rivals are rarely found with a bad word to say about ZooMaa on a personal level.