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He’s played on numerous Call of Duty Teams that have won tournaments, battled alongside and against some of the elite of the sport, and has dropped insane stat lines in nationally recognized events. But ask the world of Call of Duty about him, and the response is surprising.
“Who is Casey “Pandur” Romano?”
The fact that the answer to that question is not well-known is part of the problem that currently persists in the 21-year-old’s daily life as he tries to establish himself in the world of CoD esports.
One of the most underrated and overlooked players in the game right now, Pandur is just waiting for the opportunity to show that he deserves more hype and attention as one of the better players in the game, both historically, and right now.
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From an extremely early age, Pandur was a natural at competitive gaming. He has been making other players look silly since before he was in elementary school.
His father, Bruce “Tebagz” Romano, was a quality gamer in his own right, putting together an extremely impressive World of Warcraft guild and setting up LAN parties for CounterStrike with his friends on a regular basis.
When Pandur turned four, Bruce started letting his son play with him and his gamer pals, trying to include his son in his life.
What he found was that his toddler was a force to be reckoned with.
Whether it was on Warcraft raids or in CounterStrike lobbies against strangers, Pandur was destroying the full-grown adults he was playing against. Players would often yell at the young Pandur, upset with how badly they were getting beaten. When that happened, Bruce would get on the headset and mention to the opponents that they had just been defeated by a four-year-old. Which of course did not always sit well.
As he grew older, Pandur continued to dominate the computer games he played, often beating players twice or three times his age, slowly earning respect from his adult peers as he continued to showcase his dominance.
When he reached middle school, Computer gaming was going out of style, and console gaming was on the rise. In eighth grade, Pandur got an Xbox, adopted the handle of “Panda” (which later became “Pandur”), and began building up his skills on a new platform.
He played in a bunch of tournaments, both local and online, but got his first big break when he was chosen to fill in for Renato “Saints” Forza on the Luminosity Gaming roster for the 2017 Call of Duty World League Paris Open.
In his own words, Pandur was “their last choice, only considered after everyone else had said no”. In addition to being very young and totally inexperienced, Pandur had yet to play in this position.
At the same time, Pandur had an incredible opportunity in front of him, and he was up to the challenge.
As LG made its way through the Open Bracket in Paris, Pandur showcased an impressive beginning to his professional run, including a great performance in a victory over Panda Gaming and a team win over the very talented eUnited squad that had just won the Atlanta Open a few weeks earlier. Beating eUnited sent LG into Pool Play, a huge step for Pandur’s career.
In Pool B, things began to fall apart, not just for the team, but for Pandur as well. The team struggled to a 1-3 record in the pool, falling into the loser’s bracket. As the new face of the lineup, Pandur received a great deal of the scrutiny for the team’s missteps and felt immense pressure throughout, which led to poor play.
After winning their first match, LG fell 3-0 to Fnatic, the group D winner, and finished top 16 in the tournament. This was a disappointing result for LG, and Pandur shouldered a great deal of the blame.
After the event, Pandur was approached by Rogue Gaming, a team which recognized his talent and skill. At this point, Pandur received an invite to join their roster and finally got a real chance to prove himself in a good situation.
Right now, Pandur has certain skills that set him apart from other gamers on the scene. Having survived through the trial by fire that was the 2017 Paris Open, Pandur has developed the ability to perform at a high level under pressure.
A perfect example of this confidence was illustrated in a match from the 2017 CWL Dallas Open, which happened just one month after Paris.
After dropping into the loser’s bracket with a loss in round 4, Rogue’s backs were against the wall. In their next battle with Team Allegiance, Pandur found himself down one map to nothing in a 1-on-3 situation with the fate of the team resting in his hands.
Pandur simply decided he was going to clutch it out. And he did.
After winning that engagement to take map 2, Pandur, along with another member of the team, put the rest of the team on their backs to lead them to the win and a spot in the next round. Pandur has the ability to reset and breathe in the middle of a match, a skill he says allows him to refocus on the fly, and cope with the pressure as it appears.
Over the course of his career, Pandur has earned many achievements and hardware, but one of the highest honors in his mind is the first time he placed pro at a tournament.
As a part of Ghost Gaming at the 2018 CWL Seattle Open, Pandur led his team to unexpected heights. It began in the Open Bracket, where Ghost dismantled all of its opponents and earned itself a spot in a highly competitive group B, which included Optic Gaming.
At that time, Optic was in the middle of one of the most imposing dynasties in the game’s history, yet Pandur and his team were unfazed. They finished second in the closely contested group, including a victory over Optic, sending themselves into the winner’s bracket.
Once Ghost reached the Championship Bracket, Pandur helped lead the team to knock off Team Kaliber, including posting a dominant K/D of 2.14 in map 4 to take the series. With the support of Pandur, Ghost ended up losing only 2 matches; one to eUnited, who finished 3rd overall in the tournament, and one to Rise, who ended up winning the event.
For Pandur, this was a huge milestone in his career, and over the course of the entire tournament his play reflected his impressive gunskill, as he finished the event with an overall K/D of 1.08, best on his squad.
As of this moment, Pandur remains unsigned by any major organization. The prevailing idea is that Pandur has always been the support player to the all-star teammates he has had at various stages throughout his career. As a result, he is often overlooked when teams are trying to improve.
But anyone who doubts Pandur’s ability to win simply needs to look at his track record.
In his career, he has earned over $72,000 and has shown no signs that he is going to slow down any time soon. His current roster, Sage eSports, just placed 5th/6th at the CWL London Open earlier this year. The only question seems to be who is going to decide that they are willing to sign Pandur, because if he continues his current level of play, someone out there will have to take note.
There are still a couple of months left in the season, and a couple more events where a pro team in need of a star can seek out the talents of someone who’s been at the top of the game for a very long time.
For Pandur, his career can go in one of two directions. The first is that an organization, or perhaps one of the franchises that is supposedly around the corner, finally invites him to join their squad. And based on his talent and ability to win, that should be happening sooner rather than later.
If for some reason that does not pan out, Pandur is open to exploring the coaching route, or maybe even going into streaming if that proves to be the best financial decision for him. But no matter what, he will be a part of the Call of Duty ecosystem for a long time to come.
For now, Pandur is going to just keep grinding and keep winning. In between tournaments, he is planning to begin training for a Spartan race, hoping to become the first esports athlete to complete one. Just another accolade for Pandur to add to the trophy case, another accomplishment for a guy who seems to be drowning in them.
Whether you believe it or not, Pandur is a big-time player who simply needs someone to give him a spot on the big stage.
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