Xizt retires: "I am very happy with what I accomplished as a player"
The in-game leader of the legendary Ninjas in Pyjamas squad that dominated the early days of CS:GO, Richard "Xizt" Landström, hangs up his mouse at the age of 30 and looks towards a new role in esports.
Xizt has announced his retirement as a player, bringing to an end a 12-year career during which he competed in two different versions of the game, won numerous titles, and represented organizations such as fnatic, NIP, FaZe, and Dignitas.
"My career has had its ups and downs, but looking back it's been an amazing and unforgettable journey," Xizt said in the announcement, thanking all of his teammates and the fans across the years before hinting at his plans for the future: "I'm not walking away from CS yet!"
Xizt's breakthrough as a player came in the final years of CS 1.6. He was ranked among the top 20 players of 2010 and 2011, setting himself up for a transition to CS:GO where he would become a part of Ninjas in Pyjamas, the first team to create their era off the back of an astounding 87-0 map win streak on LAN. He placed as high as No. 6 on the best players of 2013 ranking.
As the main caller for the team he represented from 2012 to 2018, Xizt went on to win over 20 LANs with Ninjas in Pyjamas as well as the ESL One Cologne 2014 Major. He lifted three IEM trophies, including one as a stand-in for FaZe, won a home event at DreamHack Masters Malmö with an MVP-worthy performance, and claimed titles at events such as Copenhagen Games, StarSeries, and ESWC as well.
Tenures with fnatic and Dignitas that followed his exit from NIP weren't as fruitful for Xizt as he had hoped for. Since his departure from the latter team in September 2020, he has been inactive as a player, which left him a lot of time to consider his next step.
"Making the decision to stop playing wasn't an easy one, but it's something that I have thought about a lot for the last couple of years, and now when I had time off to reflect it became clear to me that continuing playing wasn't an option," Xizt said in an interview with HLTV.org.
"The past few years didn’t really go my way and I didn't perform how I wanted to in-game. Being as unsuccessful as we were in fnatic and Dignitas, compared to earlier years in my career, really took a dent in me and my confidence. I wasn't happy and was mostly just irritated when playing the game, which also translated to real life and I didn't feel like myself whatsoever.
"There were definitely a lot of factors behind me retiring, but I honestly think the biggest one was that, in the end, I just lost the motivation to keep grinding the long hours, which you obviously need if you want to be in the top, and playing in the lower tier 'just to play' isn't something I want to do."
An event that happened 10 years ago was the first one to come to Xizt when he was asked about his fondest memories as a competitor. "My first big tournament win with fnatic in CS 1.6," the IEM 5 European Championship Finals in Kyiv, Ukraine, where was the MVP as well.
After that, Xizt notes the Cologne Major with NIP that happened three years later: "Winning a Major was our biggest goal and after losing two finals in a row prior, I don't think anyone expected us to win Cologne, but we grew as a team game by game and it was amazing getting that Major win together." Unsurprisingly, creating their own era also has a high place in his memories too: "The 87-0 record and the whole NiP era we had early on in CS:GO is unforgettable for me."
In terms of other favorites, Xizt highlighted the victory at DreamHack Masters Malmö 2016 on home soil. "The crowd was totally bonkers and so loud that we could hear them screaming 'NiP, NiP, NiP!' in the booths. Stepping out of the booths and receiving the trophy in front of our Swedish crowd was special."
"Also, winning IEM Sydney with FaZe after getting kicked from NiP and beating Astralis 3-0 in the final was amazing."
Looking back at his career that he started as a teenager, now 30-year-old Xizt feels fulfilled. "I have had a lot of great teammates during my career and made a lot of friends. I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to have my hobby also be my work while traveling the globe."
"I am very happy and satisfied with what I accomplished as a player. Being a part of the legendary NiP team and also doing it as an IGL isn't something I could have dreamt of when I was a kid. The game of CS has given me so much, not only in terms of winning tournaments, but I have grown so much as a person and I have got to experience the world by doing what I love. Of course, there are always what-ifs, maybe I could have made different decisions towards the end of my career, but in the end, I am really proud of what I have accomplished."
While Xizt has decided to not play anymore, the veteran is convinced he has more to give in the industry. "I love CS and esports," he says, which makes it natural for him to stay and transition to a new role. "I am open to the opportunity to coach, do analytical work or team management, preferably in CS:GO where my expertise is."
"Now that I have had time off to reflect and refuel, I am very motivated and willing to work my ass off to win tournaments again, but in a different role," Xizt concludes.
Xizt's accomplishments in CS:GO include:
THOR Open 2012
DreamHack Masters Malmö 2016
ESL One Cologne 2014 (NIP)
Other tournaments won
DreamHack Valencia 2012 (NIP)
ESWC 2012 (NIP)
DreamHack Winter 2012 (NIP)
AMD Sapphire CS:GO Invitational (NIP)
THOR Open 2012 (NIP)
NorthCon 2012 (NIP)
Mad Catz Vienna (NIP)
TECHLABS Cup 2013 (NIP)
Copenhagen Games 2013 (NIP)
RaidCall EMS One Spring 2013 Finals (NIP)
ESEA Invite Season 13 Global Finals (NIP)
SLTV StarSeries VI FInals (NIP)
ESEA Invite Season 14 Global Finals (NIP)
DreamHack Bucharest 2013 (NIP)
Copenhagen Games 2014 (NIP)
DreamHack Summer 2014 (NIP)
ESL One Cologne 2014 (NIP)
ASUS ROG Winter (NIP)
DreamHack Masters Malmö 2016 (NIP)
StarSeries S2 Finals (NIP)
IEM Oakland 2016 (NIP)
IEM Oakland 2017 (NIP)
IEM Sydney 2018 (FaZe)