The CSGO exodus to VALORANT continues apace, with news breaking in the last hour that Nathan "NBK" Schmitt will be transitioning to the Riot-owned FPS from Counter-Strike. His announcement came on Twitter by way of a 45-second video, in which the Frenchman stated that "memories are meant to stay in the past".
This move might represent the biggest name to depart EU CSGO for the new shooter since the release of VALORANT, and arguably the biggest name overall. Ethan leaving Evil Geniuses was massive for the NA scene, but NBK’s legacy in Counter-Strike and history of success will no doubt turn heads as orgs look to build rosters for their futures in VALORANT.
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On a personal level, NBK has been without a team since departing OG Esports, having played a crucial role in helping Vitality enter the CS space prior to leaving that squad. Both departures were somewhat marred by hints and rumours of power struggles within the team and the economic impact of COVID may have limited opportunities for him to return to the game he came up in.
The decision also speaks to growing confidence in the future of VALORANT after initial worries it could end up like Overwatch, as a money sink for VC investors that never fully works as an esport. The VCT event in Iceland, won by Sentinels, saw massive viewership from across the esports world, and will no doubt have got many pros in NBK’s position wondering if the grass is greener over in Riot’s pastures.
NBK made his CS debut back in 2009, playing Source for teams like ROCCAT and the legendary VeryGames, and has represented pretty much every big org associated with French CSGO. Famed for his versatility and intelligence, he was an early advocate for use of scoped guns like the SSG and AUG, which went on to dominate the pro scene when others caught up, and were eventually nerfed as a result.
We await news of his destination as a pro, but with the likes of Spencer "Hiko" Martin, Shahzeeb "ShahZaM" Khan, and Sam "DaZeD" Marine getting pro contracts in that game, NBK should have no trouble finding a home. Team Liquid has a European lineup with the French-speaking ScreaM as their star, but as a fluent English-speaker NBK won’t be limited to French teams, and may choose to play further afield after a CSGO career spent entirely in the EU.