Professional gamer Thomas Paparatto has thanked fans for "an amazing run" after a thumb injury forced him to throw in the towel at the age of 25.
Paparatto -- who goes by the online moniker ZooMaa -- has played "Call of Duty" professionally for eight years.
But he said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday that an injury to his hand meant he was taking a step back from gaming.
"It breaks my heart to step away from a game I put my heart and soul into every single day for eight years," he said, thanking fans for their "confidence and support."
An earlier hand injury that had required him to undergo surgery has returned, Paparatto said, making it "really hard" for him to continue to compete "against some of the best players in the world."
"I don't regret anything and I am grateful to have had a long playing career doing what I love to do at such a high level," he added.
Fellow members of the New York Subliners -- one of the world's top Call of Duty League (CDL) eSports teams -- and other top players tweeted their sadness at Paparatto's early retirement.
"I'll miss you brotha. Seriously, one of my best friends in the whole scene," three-time world champion James "Clayster" Eubanks said.
"I'm so sorry that this happened," Dillon "Attach" Price, who plays for the Minnesota ROKKR team, tweeted.
"It's been an honor to team with you and make so many memories."
Paparatto said that while he would no longer play professionally, he would stay involved in the gaming community.
"I'm not sure what the future holds and will explore all options as I love this game too much to walk away completely."
FROM THE ARCHIVES