Zeus to retire after BLAST Pro Series Moscow
The Ukrainian veteran had already revealed in an interview with HLTV.org, conducted at BLAST Pro Series Lisbon in December, that he was planning to hang up his mouse sometime in 2019, "more likely towards the end of the year, maybe [at] the middle."
The announcement comes just days after Natus Vincere were eliminated from the StarLadder Major after losing to NRG in the quarter-finals. In a statement, Zeus said that he believed the team would at least reach the final in Berlin, and admitted that the early exit forced him to accept that he needed to "give way to the youth."
The 31-year-old hopes to finish his career by leading Na`vi to glory one more time with the support of the home crowd in Moscow, where the team will go up against the likes of Vitality, ENCE and MIBR.
"It was a tough decision — I have been thinking about it for a while," Zeus told Na`Vi's website. " There were rumors I could leave after BLAST, but I believed our new roster could win a Major, or make it into the finals at least.
"But we lost early on, and I realize I need to give way to the youth. It’s rough, honestly: I have devoted 20 years of my life to Counter-Strike, and it’s about time to wrap it up. I want to thank everyone who was with me all this time, cheered for me and believed in me.
"This is not an end, but a start of a new path. There will be lots of interesting stuff: I want to develop esports in CIS, build a pro academy, engage with the young. I have lots of ideas. But I will not be coaching, at least for now. It might happen sometime in the future.
"My last event, BLAST, will start in a few days in Moscow. I am inviting every person who can — come and support us. Our eyes are set on the victory."
On Saturday, the curtain will come down on Zeus' career, which began in the early 2000s in CS 1.6. He played for established CIS teams like pro100, Virtus.pro, DTS and KerchNET before forming the iconic Natus Vincere roster that would dominate the scene in 2010.
After some struggles during the first years of CS:GO, Na`Vi enjoyed some success in late 2015 and early 2016, but a series of disappointing results saw Zeus replaced by Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev in the line-up during the summer.
That would remain the biggest achievement of his career as he was unable to replicate the same success in his second stint with Natus Vincere, although they came close at the FACEIT Major last year. Since returning to Na`Vi, the team has won four Big Events, the last of which almost five months ago as they have struggled for form in recent months, even after replacing Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev with Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov.
The former Quantum Bellator Fire and Winstrike player has been working under Zeus' guidance since joining the team and could immediately take up the in-game leader role. After BLAST Pro Series Moscow, the team will have a two-week break from competition, returning to action at the start of next month at DreamHack Masters Malmö.
Mikhaylo "Kane" Blagin (coach)