NRG’s Zayt is returning to competitive Fortnite after brief retirement

Albert Petrosyan

Not even three weeks after revealing that he’ll be retiring from playing Fortnite competitively, NRG star William ‘Zayt’ Aubin has had a change of heart, announcing his return to the battle royale’s competitive ranks for the DreamHack Online Open.

Few Fortnite players achieved the prominence that Zayt did during his heyday; as a finalist for both the battle royale’s Solos and Duos World Cup finals in 2019, the longtime competitive player is regarded as one of the best the game has ever seen.

When he announced his retirement on January 12, the community was stricken with sadness, since Zayt is not only one of the scene’s most recognizable figures, but his outspoken nature also provided reassurance for those wanting Fortnite esports to be at its best.

However, on January 30, he revealed his desire to compete again while also announcing his plans to return: “If I didn’t play DreamHack with Benjy I probably wouldn’t be saying that but, I really miss competing already […] With that said, yes I am coming back.”

Why did Zayt retire from competitive Fortnite?

On January 12, in a brief broadcast on his Twitch channel, Zayt announced that he would no longer be competing in Fortnite: “What I’m going to be doing, which feels really weird to say especially coming from someone like me, is stop competing in Fortnite. I’m going to stop playing tournaments, I’m going to stop playing scrims.”

The streamer ultimately attributed his reason for quitting competitive Fortnite to the lack of having fun. He explained that, in the early days of the battle royale, playing with friends was all about having casual fun, and when the competitive side of the game took off, that was replaced with his desire to win and be the best.

He highlighted his placements at the World Cup finals (fourth in Duos, 35th in Solos) as one of the major turning points of his career, due to the disappointment of falling short of his ultimate goal, which was to win the event.

However, he continued to compete, and even after finally winning the Duos FNCS in Season 2 of Chapter 2, the victory hadn’t fulfilled him the way he’d imagined. Zayt quickly came to the realization that playing the game was no longer fun for him.

“One of the worst things in life would be to have regrets. I was telling myself if I quit the game or retire, I’ll regret it forever because the next World Cup or the next big event – that could be me winning it. Basically, I didn’t have fun playing the game and I didn’t have competing or getting better at the game.”

What happens to Zayt’s post-retirement plans?

Even before announcing his return, Zayt had made it very clear that he wasn’t completely done with Fortnite – quite the contrary, he planned to continue with NRG as a content creator focusing on the battle royale, while also acting as a coach/analyst and reviewing matches live on his stream.

“Before you guys freak out, I’m not leaving NRG, I’m staying in the Fortnite scene,” he said, at the time. “I’m going to become a coach, analyst, mentor type of thing. I’m not going to be a private coach; basically what I’m going to be doing is streaming watching scrims, and when they’re playing, I’m going to explain to you guys what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

It’s not exactly clear how much his new decision to compete in Fortnite again will change these plans; he hasn’t made any comments about whether or not he’ll try to fit in the live coaching and analysis in between his scrims and competitive matches, so we’ll just have to wait and see.