This man is the whole epoch, the hero of youth, the captain of Gambit Esports team. The story of Ukrainian CS:GO player Daniil "Zeus" Teslenko.
It is now when requests to take a photo are heard at each corner. Especially in Kharkiv. It is the place where Daniil was born and here each youngster knows him. But there could be no Esports career at all. Back in 2008 he thought he would give up professional gaming. His father held a profitable business of car reselling and he started to help him. During the year of coworking with the father he at the same time was training playing Counter-Strike 1.6, but during the whole period didn't earn even $10. He changed several teams. DTS first, then Kerch.Net. Nothing was just right. Nowhere had he stayed for a long time.
But Zeus always wanted to play. At the end of 2009 Sergey "starix" Ischuk found him and offered a place in the new team Na'Vi. The line-up was sponsored by Kazakh entrepreneur Murat Tulemaganbetov, who was known then as Arbalet. The old Kharkiv fellow from pro100 and Virtus.pro Ivan "Edward" Sukharev was also invited to join the team. So the choice came whether to accept the offer or to refuse gaming.
"I had to leave the dad although I held a great position then and had perspective opportunities. I do remember that talk. I told that I wanted to try myself and it was a chance for me. Dad supported me and wished good luck although it was tough. I held a lot of responsibilities and dad was to look for someone to replace me", – Daniil recalls.
Each schoolchild can be jealous of Zeus's father. He never punished the love for gaming, moreover never tried to limit. 10-year Daniil started to get round computer clubs, fell in love with the games and away we go. He stuck in front of the screen either in his spare time from morning till night, or instead of the lessons. Aged 11-12 he went to a club overnight for the first time, to play with guys. The father arrived to see where he played and with whom. He neither minded nor limited. Daniil will thank for that a lot of times.
"My father is a wise man. He knew that he should support my choice and there was no need to ban me from doing what I liked and what I was good at", – Zeus tells.
He reckons pro100 to be his first serious team. Ukrainian cyberathlete gang was gathered in 2004. Daniil performed in the team together with Ivan Sukharev, Mikhail "kane" Blagin and brothers Dmitry "raz0r" and Eugene "KEKC" Petruhno. The first serious success at CIS stage was the third place in ASUS Cup. Virtus.pro prevented them from advancing to the final. In one year young Zeus with the team will push "The Bears" away. At that time that was great success for the young team.
Then many attempts to perform at championships will follow, among them the Esport Olympics, the legendary World Cyber Games. They did not always win, but at the tournaments of ASUS and WCG UA series the bullets flew as they should. In 2007 Europeans and Scandinavians began to break away from the others in terms of skill level. So they should be caught up with somehow, but broadband internet was absolutely poor in Ukraine. It appeared only in Kiev but in other cities one was to be content with skirmishes with bots. The brothers lost the motivation and they focused on getting higher education. Three men were left. And here one option appeared. "The Bears" invited Ivan Sukharev to join them. He came with the team to the championship in France, came back defeated and invited Daniil to Moscow.
Zeus jibbed. He wanted either to move to the new team with a three-man stack, as it was planned, or to deny the offer. While Virtus.pro were thinking how to make Daniil join them, he came back home, to Kharkiv. Finally, Alexey "Lex" Kolesnikov and Ivan Sukharev came after him to persuade him to sign the contract. Misha Blagin no more minded their shift. Without the decent Internet, sponsor and wages you won't go far. But Daniil leaves nobody behind.
Moved to Moscow, rented a flat in Mitino paying for it an enormous sum. But it was few kilometers away from Clicknet netcafe, which was the home for the best gamers from Moscow. Although still it wasn't working at the International stage. They were inferior in all respects. All in all, in 2008 the organization asked Viktor "Sally" Filimonchenko out of the team and invited the old Teslenko's friend, Mikhail Blagin, instead of him. Refreshed and started the second round.
The same ill-fated 2008 became notorious for a crisis. The wages were cut, moreover Dota player Vasiliy "JoliE" Pepelyaev fished for living in the flat. The guy was asked to take care of the flat during the residents' departure to San Jose, but he hosted parties while they were away. Of course no one thought about cleaning. So when Zeus and Edward came back it was reduced to ashes. No it wasn't burnt but it was so messy that the guy was given a reprimand. Although he was given the second chance before another trip. Finally neighbors got fed up with the binges. They called out the owner. He came and found Vasya with an unknown mob. Of course he saw neither Ivan nor Daniil as they got out for yet another tournament.
That's how they lost the flat. VP told they didn't mind them as players, but where to live was the guys' own business. They were guilty to lose such an opportunity. Finally, Edward settled down at his friend's while Zeus and kane spent nights in Clicknet. They made kind of beds out of chairs and wires from unwanted mice, jotted down whatever things to make it softer, lied down and covered themselves with anything. As for Daniil, he got an ordinary bathrobe.
At that time no one cared about sports nutrition, eating in a local canteen anything they could. It was great if they at least managed to grab any meal. They had shower once in two or three days at their friends' place, not far. So the three were there, preparing around the clock, Zeus, kane and Edward, who came every day. Other guys didn't forget about the group trainings as well but it could hardly be compared with the efforts put into by the Kharkiv guys.
As the outcome in December they got prize places in two Moscow tournaments. After the victory they shared the money and caroused. At 5am Misha offered to go to the flat (closer to the tournament the guys managed to find the flat), but Zeus wanted to stay in the club a bit longer. After this he went outside at 6am, drunk, caught white Volga with the Caucasian at the wheel. He remembered nothing of what went on except from a conk. He came back to senses somewhere near garages. He had neither money nor devices. He lost $2,500, on the other hand he was alive.
He came back home to Kharkiv and found out that he got excluded from the team. Why? He never understood. The only things he got in reply were unreliable excuses. We couldn't reach you and something like that. That was when he started to work for his father, a bit later Na'Vi occurred, where he was chosen as the captain. Danya himself tells that Misha Blagin was the man who taught him everything, when they played together in VP, he showed his own understanding of Counter-Strike.
"We had a choice whether to enter the university or to play CS. My dad told me then: "Danil, the university in our country won't give you a great success, you'll spend 5 years of your life and no one knows what you'll get in return". I reckon we made the right decision at that moment. There is no doubt learning is light and ignorance is darkness but we need to move forward in our life and listen to our intuition. So one more thanks to my dad for his support", – Zeus tells.
Almost 7 years Daniil spent in Natus Vincere. During the first year the guys won three championships in a row, and it became the record. He was called one of those old players, who remember and kept the spirit of the old school. From the year 2009 the wages increased in dozens of times, and prize funds in thousand times. More than once Zeus relieved the team's alterations, adding to this CS 1.6 was replaced with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Till 2015 he remained the captain and then Sergey "starix" Ischuk, at that moment the coach, took over his post. Still he continued to work on self-development. Time will pass and the famous captain will give his place in the line-up to young, ambitious and perspective Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev. Na'Vi players will tell later that they have always dreamt of playing with Sasha.
The organization offered Daniil a contract and different ways of cooperation but he was at loss. He got upset. Not every day you are asked to leave the team, which you devoted all the time to since its assembly. As a result, he continued to stream and develop his YouTube channel. Danya has long been a role model for youngsters. Over the years, his reputation in the community only strengthened. He is recognized on the streets, in the parks, both in Kharkiv and Kiev, people ask to make selfies with him. He is a simple man, he doesn't deny, if possible. He will always take some time and chat. For nothing.
When there were hard times again, parents and the family with the daughter were the closest. The situation was complicated, but it couldn't be compared with that one, when he had to sleep on chairs. Times have changed, but not the people.
"My parents watch all my matches whether it is night or day. Always cheer for me. Mom prays and asks for our victory and for us to manage everything. My family is proud of me and my brother, – Teslenko explains. - He is by the way a professional footballer. So far, only the champion of Ukraine. His dream is to win the Champions League. He is only 22 so he has everything yet to come. At home we even have a stand with our cups and medals. Once in 3-4 months we gather together at home and spend few weeks with the family. He is very interesting and may be called a wise guy as for his 22. In general, we try to help and support each other, as we are brothers, the closest people in the world".
In October 2016 Gambit Esports announced the line-up update. Together with the loaned Abay "HObbit" Khassenov Daniil Teslenko and his old pal, Misha Blagin, as the coach, came to the team. The first victories came in November. First at Acer Predator Masters 3, then in Sweden at DreamHack. After the final in Jonkoping Zeus will tell: "I haven't taken the first place for ages. All the time I took the second. And here I'm telling: Guys, I've already held the second place. Let's do it". They tell: "Don't worry, we'll take the first". They took not only the main trophy and $50,000 but also snatched the prize for the most valuable player, the award was taken by Abay Khassenov. He was shocked to the point that he couldn't understand what to do with the medal.
While the internet was discussing Danya and his new team's victory, "Natus Vincere" itself without Zeus won nothing except from ESL One New York. Captain, a joker, the the life of the party and the soul of any team has found a new home. But what matters – in his 29 he wins again with passion in his eyes and dreams of winning the Major. Unless he gets the trophy in his hands, he won't calm down.