5 Questions with: Kirill "cnz" Golubjov

cnz during Quake Pro League Season 1 Stage 1 Finals.                                Picture: Quake Pro League


What is happening right now in your life when there is no active QPL competition?

Nothing special, I just came from vacation in Spain. I am concentrating on my working process right now.


What are your thoughts on last finals?  

The last stage was good, I managed to take 7th place. But finals were a bit unpredictable for me. I was in a good shape and was feeling well the first day, I thought I could take higher place than I finally got. My first match versus nosfa was a bit nervous, but I had a plan and I already knew before the match started that I would win. On the first map versus Cypher I couldn't make frag for a long time, his +back was very effective. There were several situations, when he had low hp, but I couldn't catch him, because of Slash's speed. The last map Cypher hit incredible rails, that helped him to win 2-1. After that I had to play my third match in a looser bracket versus Coollerz. [which he won 2-0] My nervous system was already on a high level, that is why I couldn't fall asleep till 7 a.m. that night. Because of this, in my next match versus Spartie the next day I had slept only 4 hours and felt very bad.


What are your plans this fall until QPL starts again?

I think my plans are predictable for next 3 months, I am going to do my job and play quake as I did before. Also I hope we will all meet on Myztro LAN this November.


Where do you see the Quake competitive scene in a year?

It is hard to say anything about Quake scene right now, but I believe we will still have tournaments and a Pro League in a year.


Any tips for players who want to become good like you?

I do not think that I am a player who can give tips and advice, but if you are asking I would recommend to stay calm if something goes wrong in game and try to analyse everything you do on the map. Sometimes it is very important just to stay for a moment and think about your next move in Quake.

In 5 days, it has been 3 months since 31-year old Kirill “cnz” Golubjov from Estonia joined Dragonborn esport, marking the beginning of a new chapter for the Swedish organisation. Expanding to Quake is the biggest investment the organisation has ever made since being formed in 2017 and has attracted attention from all over the world. Kirill has now settled nicely with the purple colours, but the interest from the fans has remained high and many people have asked about the Estonian's backstory. Dragonborn's Head of Quake, Jakob Jansson, sat down with the Quake legend.


The year is 2001, and Kirill has his first encounter with Quake 3 Arena. Acquiring basic skills was no problem even in his young age, especially since having his brother sitting next to him was a common sight. Together they experienced the early days of Quake, and it is here that Kirill’s passion for the franchise began to grow. “I am not sure for how long I played, but I think it was something like 1 year” Kirill says.


                                             Kirill playing Quake 3 Arena with his brother spectating, circa 2001-2002


It was not until 2011 that Kirill returned to Quake again by giving Quake Live a try, with which he had a 3 year-run between the years 2011-2014. In April of 2014, Kirill had his first notable achievement in competitive Quake as he made it to the Quarterfinals in the Pro League of 125 FPS Season #14, taking down players like Anton "Cooller" Singov in his run.
However, it would be 3 years before cnz would surface for real in 2017, this time in a new game.


With a new game, Quake Champions, being released in 2017, Kirill saw his opportunity to compete again. He wanted to attend as much as he could, and was seen competing in various cups, qualifiers and eventually Tier 1 events. In other words, he took every opportunity he could to showcase his knowledge in the arena. In the end of 2017, Kirill got his first chance at the big stage, as he travelled to Paris to attend ESWC 2017. After finishing first in his group, he went off to the Quarterfnals where he was taken down by Myztro Gaming’s Adrián "RAISY" Birgány. Many would still consider this a successful run for the Estonian. He had showed what he was capable of, and held his head high awaiting the next big opportunity.


                           Kirill playing against Polish player Pikawa in the group stage of ESWC 2017. Picture credit: Infuscomus


Just a month later, his chance came, as DreamHack Winter 2017 hosted a BYOC tournament, open for everyone to play, where the top 2 players qualified for the main event. Cnz finished 9-12th after going down 0-2 to Swedish Sebastian “Spart1e” Siira, but once again, he had attended a tournament together with several top players. He was now seriously starting to become a well-known name in Quake Champions.
Kirill continued attending as many events as possible, most notably he flew to Dallas in August of 2018 to play QuakeCon 2018 together with Cooller, which further increased his reputation since Cooller was already at this time a legendary name in the Quake scene. More notable tournaments included PGL Quake Champions Open in Bucharest and DreamHack Winter 2018 in Jönköping.


In 2019, Quake Pro League started, which saw many of the standalone offline tournaments taking a step aside. To no surprise, cnz was seen in literally every qualifier opportunity. Not placing below 3-4th in any one of them, finishing 2nd in 2 and 1st in 1, landed him with enough points to make it to the Quake Pro League Stage 1 Finals in November 2019 in Lucca, Italy. Kirill had to win his first match versus Spart1e to qualify into Quake Pro League, which he confidently swept aside with a 3-1 finish. It was now confirmed. Regardless of his results in the remainder of the Finals, cnz had now secured his spot in Quake Pro League. He eventually lost his next match and finished 13-20th place, but he now had the opportunity to play in the highest tier of competition possible in competitive Quake.


“QPL is the single opportunity to play Quake professionally, so I am very grateful to the organizers for that. Speaking about QPL players, they are all beasts, but everyone can be beaten. I am playing the same way every one of them.”


With Kirill’s continued success in the scene, eyes started opening for the Estonian player. And soon enough, in January of 2020, Russian organisation b100 signed him on a 1-year contract. Here he joined Russian player Alexander “base” Rybin who was also playing in the Pro League, and the two would soon become a great duo and practice partners. “It was the first time I joined an organization, so I was feeling good and motivated.” Kirill says.

Cnz went on to defend his QPL spot except for one stage where he was relegated back to Challengers again after a chain of losses. However, the next stage he immediately qualified back again. Ever since, he has kept his place, and has become a common discussion topic when it comes to his incredibly slow and methodical playstyle.
Perhaps, Kirill’s most notable achievement so far was his 5-8th finish in the Quake World Championships 2020, where he had a superb run, taking down several legendary names before eventually going down to American Quake legend Tim “DaHanG” Fogarty in the lower bracket. He took home $8,500 USD, which undoubtedly marks his biggest earning so far in esports.



                                    Cnz in his match versus DaHanG in Quake World Championships 2020. Picture: Quake Pro League



After a one year tenure with b100, cnz was seen leaving the organisation after they decided not to renew his contract. His now former teammate baSe however, continued his run in the organisation and is still signed to this day. Kirill would be without an organisation until March, when he was noticed by Dragonborn esport’s manager Jakob “DEFENSE” Jansson. The two started discussing, and just a few days later it was official that Kirill had found a new home in the Swedish-based organisation. “I just went to Liquipedia with the hopes of seeing someone in QPL without an organisation. When I saw cnz had recently been released, I took the shot, added him on Discord, talked for 30 minutes, and then it was basically done. It was a quite easy process, and very professionally handled by Kirill.” Jakob says

Since then, Kirill has been on active duty in Quake Pro League. With a 13-16th finish last Finals, he kept his spot with ease and took home $2,750 USD. This stage he is currently sitting with a 0-3 score, with 8 more weeks to go. The Estonian has now gotten used to the competitive environment and the lifestyle of a professional Quake player. Working from home during the pandemic has also been a great opportunity to get more hours of practice.

“A standard day starts with a healthy breakfast, shower and a short walk in the fresh air. After that I am working from home or going to the office. Then I have time to practise Quake or go to the gym. If the weather is good, sometimes I like to cycle in the evenings.“


With the end of Season 2 of QPL coming closer and closer, with no news about Season 3 yet, expectations are undoubtedly high for what is coming next. Kirill has a few ideas for Season 3 of QPL if there is to be one.  

“Firstly, it would be great to hear the announcement about Season 3. Secondly, I would like to see +2 slots from each region in QPL. Speaking about EU competition, many people understand that we have more than 10 players, who would be interesting to follow in a Pro League.”

No one knows exactly what the future holds, but Kirill’s vision remains. “My plans are simple- continue practicing Quake. I want to improve my skill to be better at every stage” he says, finishing the interview.

Article written by: Jakob Jansson @defense_zomg