Zeus: "I miss the game, but I understand that my days are over"
In our last interview from IEM Katowice, we talked to Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko five months after his retirement to find out how his life has changed and what he thinks of Natus Vincere's recent progress.
The Ukrainian veteran shared his disappointment upon finding out that he wouldn't be the trophy bearer at the Polish event following a decision made by ESL to adjust the broadcast because of the absence of the crowd in the tournament's playoffs.
He went on to discuss the topic of his retirement and the fashion in which he made the decision, which had come under criticism in an interview with s1mple, and detailed what he has been putting his focus on since hanging up his mouse, highlighting his work with his organization, pro100, and the release of the English version of his autobiography "Against All Odds".
We naturally also asked Zeus about his former team's decisions, which saw them bring in Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács before swiftly replacing him with Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy, and their promising results as of late.
What did it mean to you to be the trophy bearer at IEM Katowice? Were you disappointed to find out that it wouldn't work out, in the end?
I was very disappointed at first, but I later understood that the situation was bad for IEM and my friend Carmac, who organizes the event and whom I've known for a long time. I had to support him and told him off the bat that I'd be the trophy bearer even in an empty arena. They thought that teams would be sitting in the arena, but the teams refused to, so the arena would be completely empty. I was upset at first but later things were alright. I'll likely be the trophy bearer next year.
It's been about five months since you stopped competing. What has been your focus since then?
I am currently working with pro100, I am the owner of the organization and I'm in the process of developing it. We made a leap in the past four months, going from top 90 to top 30, and we have the goal of achieving top 15 in the world in the next six months. The team set this goal and we are moving towards it. I dedicate a lot of time to that, plus I was constructing a production studio. We now have a studio where we shoot the Cybershow for my YouTube channel.
Then we also translated my book into English, and I was recently involved with that. It can now be bought practically in every part of the world both as an ebook and hardcopy. We also have the CIS Esports league, which I stopped working on for some time for certain reasons, but I'll resume working on it once more. I also stream. These are my current main projects.
What has the reception to the book been like?
Russian readers said they really enjoyed it and are happy they read it. It's 380 pages long, it represents four years of hard work and it contains a lot of interesting stuff. There are around 20 interviews in the book with various international professional players. People generally really like it. The English audience has only just started buying it and it isn't quite as active in purchasing, but those who have read it have given positive feedback. We'll see how it goes, but 99% of the Russian-speaking audience is happy, and as for the English audience, we'll see, it just came out.
Do you plan on writing a sequel?
Maybe later because it took me four years to write this book. It's very hard, and my current mission is to sell as many books as possible in English because I have sold 20,000 Russian copies so far and everyone enjoyed it. Maybe later, but this book is my life: all of my tournaments and experiences. I would need new experiences, but I've been thinking about little books like short stories or my Counter-Strike skills and experience turned into guides. It's not an easy process.
Do you miss competing or does working on the pro100 project fill that void?
In the first three months, I was in full relax mode, but lately, I have started missing it a bit. I saw Na`Vi, had a chat with the guys and we spent some time together, I felt nostalgic. It felt strange because it seemed like I had just played with them. I miss it. I miss the game, but I understand that my days are over, I have to make way for the youngsters. I am very happy that I have pro100 because if I didn't have it and I wouldn't have any connection to CS, it would be twice as hard for me. Seeing as we work together and they're developing, I'm able to transfer my experience to them, and they listen. I'm happy.
s1mple recently talked about the period when you were about to quit, explaining that it was full of uncertainty in not knowing when it would actually happen. Do you have any regrets in how that decision was handled?
It was a pretty abrupt decision, but at the time of my departure I felt that I was very tired, and leaving temporarily was not an option, I had to leave for good. Having said that, I wasn't playing poorly individually, and I thought that if we won a Major or went to the tournament's final, I could stay. We lost in the quarter-finals and I decided that it would be best to leave. Any moment you choose as your parting one would be difficult, so I decided to leave. Maybe it was a bit abrupt, but that's the way it happened.
What are your thoughts on how Na`Vi have progressed since then and the decisions they made after your departure, initially bringing in GuardiaN and then replacing him with Perfecto shortly afterward?
I think that if we take Astralis, for example, we know that there are established individuals on the team who have been working towards their goals for a long time. They aspired for the No.1 spot, but for a long period of time, they were missing that X factor. flamie, electronic, and s1mple are three players who have been playing at the top tier for a while. We played alongside one another for a long time and we achieved top two in the world. They were missing something, and the other two players who are currently part of the team are young players who have shown good performances and they complement the team. They practiced together and they have everything to be one of the best teams in the world, they were moving towards this goal. The adjustments, as we can see, have been positive for the team. Also, s1mple's return to the AWP was a good decision, we see his previous level, while Perfecto has become a good support. When GuardiaN was AWPing this was missing.
Were you surprised to see them bring GuardiaN back instead of going for a younger player in the first place?
Yes, for me it was surprising because Na`Vi needed a new player and didn't need an AWP; s1mple was a great AWPer, so for me, it was surprising. We discussed Na`Vi on my show and we thought s1mple should AWP, I like the way he's performing. Perfecto is playing support and Na`Vi is looking good right now.