Call of Duty gamer Thomas 'ZooMaa' Paparatto says he's stepping back from professional gaming due to injury.
The 25-year-old will stop competing for the "foreseeable future" because playing through the pain in his hand "just isn't possible anymore".
"It breaks my heart to step away from a game I put my heart and soul into every single day for eight years," Thomas says in a Twitter statement,
He plays for the New York Subliners and struggled with injury, needing surgery.
"Going through that process of getting healthy again was one of the hardest things I ever had to do both physically and mentally, which led to a lot of stress and anxiety."
It's "the hardest thing" he's ever had to write, but the wrist and thumb problem has made it tough for him to compete against the "best players in the world".
"I don't enjoy competing when I can't be the ZooMaa everyone knows and loves and feel like it's not fair to myself or to my team to go through all that again, potentially causing more damage to my hand."
Can’t help but get emotional seeing all the support. Wish I could respond to everyone but just know I see all of you and appreciate all the kind words. Love all of you for real. ❤️— NYSL ZooMaa (@ZooMaa) January 19, 2021
Thomas added he was "grateful to have had a long playing career".
"I have met so many amazing people through esports and have made so many friendships I'll continue to cherish for the rest of my life."
There was an outpouring of support from fans and fellow gamers after his announcement.
Damn that was hard to read from Zooma man. I’ve been having wrist/thumb pain and weakness as well and it is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever had to deal with. Not a lot of people truly understand how much it can affect you mentally and physically.— Joe (@Owakening) January 19, 2021
I'll miss you brotha. Seriously, one of my best friends in the whole scene. Got a pic of us up on the wall in my room and it ain't coming down. Nothing but love for you and the fam <3333333 pic.twitter.com/Is0YLrND2y— NYSL Clayster (@Clayster) January 19, 2021
you still the flank god & one of the most enjoyable players i’ve watched play the game. love you brother ❤️ minor setback for a major comeback. im excited for whatever you decide to do next. Godspeed fratello ✊🏽🥷✨— FaZe Temperrr (@Temperrr) January 19, 2021
And he thanked his fans for the "love and support" they showed every day.
"It was the only thing keeping me going through it all."
As for the future, Thomas is looking at all options as he loves "this game too much to walk away completely".
"I look at it as one door closing and another one opening," he adds.