The god of thunder isn’t dead, but the end has come for Na’Vi’s in-game leader, known as he is by his mum as Danylo Teslenko, and to us as Zeus. In the wake of his retirement, many players and other folk associated with the Counter-Strike dynasty paid tribute to his achievements, calling him a legend of the game, and one of the all-time greats, and all the other platitudes you see on these occasions.
This is partly a factor of the strange convention where a person who would be derided yesterday is celebrated today for their passing, as Zeus’s CSGO career has been a rollercoaster, with all the ups and downs that implies. However, in the case of the likes of GeT_RiGhT and a few other legendary men, it’s also because they remember when the Ukrainian, now in his thirties, used to bring the Sturm und Drang to the server, as well as the noise.
Today, there are many opinions on the Na’Vi in-game leader, and not all of them positive, but the creation of Zeus came long ago, in CS 1.6 or even before. He certainly wasn’t the s1mple of that game, with Sweden’s finest GTR far and away the greatest in 1.6 and probably during the early years of Global Offensive, but for those people who remember Zeus as “the man who finally did something”, it may come as a surprise to see his numbers in 1.6.
Across 483 maps, Zeus had a 1.17 K/F and a 1.11 rating, with his time in game comparable to all but a handful of players. For context, GeT_RiGhT leads those rankings with a scarcely believable 1.41 across 653 maps, with cogu second and FalleN joint-third by rating with NEO, of VP fame. The list of 1.6 stats is a curious mix of names now committed to gaming history and young versions of those whou would become greats in Global Offensive, as the likes of Fnatic’s trace share the space with baby Xyp9x and his bear-man coach zonic.
For Zeus, it’s in the K/D differential where the real story is told, especially in the context of the player he was in Global Offensive. He managed a +1343 overall across his career, and while numbers in isolation don’t say a lot, this article from early 2011 on HLTV gives you a better idea of what he was. Today’s fans will recognise the author, tgwri1s, but might struggle to believe Zeus is the man “who also proved that having [the IGL role] in the team doesn't necessarily mean losing your fragging capabilities”, netting him the 19th spot on 2010’s top 20 list.
Those who saw him most in 1.6 will pay tribute to his intelligence, as even back then he wasn’t the most mechanically gifted player, and there is a theme you can observe throughout his career in that assessment. His all-around skill in 1.6 was parlayed into a career in Global Offensive, and the savvy he showed on the server has carried over into a game where his value has been far more emphatically as a leader than a contributor with the rifles and the pistols, as fans today will know.
Flash forward to today, and the story has become more complicated for a man who has no doubt secured his place in the history of Global Offensive – for better or worse. The Major success in 2017 with Gambit is a high point, as was his time in 1.6, and in both cases he was able to pivot and turn that moment into reward – the financial kind in the case of his return to Na’Vi, a sign of the obvious intelligence of a man realising he needed to cash in while his profile was high, having lived through the fallow times, as well as a player with a point to prove to the yellow and black.
With a .92 rating in the CS:GO era and the context that surrounds it, it will always be easy to pick holes in the player he became, but there are few who can keep up with the ZywOos of the world at the age of 31 (for context, the same as his most famous critic HenryG). When it comes to legend status though, Zeus is a player who carved his name into the bedrock of the game with intelligence, determination and craft, rather than god-given talent, a self-made man who lasted the best part of two decades at the sharp end of the esport, and deserves a place atop Mount Olympus.
Photo credit: HLTV