Overwatch League Discontinues MVP Skins Following Sinatraa Allegations
The Overwatch League is discontinuing their MVP skin program after only 3 years of the league’s existence. While not directly stated as a reason, the OWL reacted to allegations of sexual assault and abuse by Jay “Sinatraa” Won by removing his decals and the League’s decals from the “Alien” Zarya skin created for his winning the MVP award.
Blizzard to Discontinue OWL MVP Skins, but the Reason Is Unclear
Shortly after, snuck into the announcement of Fleta’s Good vs Evil skin for Echo, was this line from OWL PR that has sent the community into a tailspin.
“With the Good vs. Evil Echo skin, the game team wanted to celebrate Fleta’s versatility, which was his defining feature throughout a fantastic 2020 season with the Shanghai Dragons,” the Overwatch League said. “The result is a dramatic design that uses contrasts—sun and moon, light and dark, angel and devil—to reflect both Fleta’s calm personality and his aggressive in-game playstyle. Don’t miss out, as this is the last time a skin will be made for the Overwatch League MVP.”
While it’s possible this is a sign that Blizzard is winding down some of their support for the Overwatch League in-game, devoting their resources to developing for Overwatch 2 instead of making skins for a league that hasn’t been as successful as they might’ve liked, the timing is extremely suspect. On the other hand, Activision Blizzard esports did just get through a massive round of layoffs as a result of the OWL’s and CDL’s shift more towards an online model versus having in-person shows – something that’s apparently set to continue as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on even in the wake of vaccine distribution.
Did Sinatraa Ruin a Good Thing for the Overwatch League?
The allegations against Sinatraa sort of forced the league’s hand. The Overwatch community (and indeed, many communities in esports) have taken a hardline stance against sexual assault, as they’ve had many instances of it running rampant in their scene (Dreamkapzer, among others, come to mind.) While Sinatraa had long since transferred out of the Overwatch League in favor of playing for the Sentinels in Valorant (where is also suspended pending investigation at the moment,) the game did still feature the Alien skin with his decals in tow. Even the video showing the making of the skin has been made private on the Overwatch League YouTube channel, showing that the league would rather distance themselves from Sinatraa altogether, despite his impressive history of play in the league.
At the time of the announcement, the league issued the following statement on Sinatraa and even offered players refunds:
“The Overwatch League is aware of allegations made against former player Jay “Sinatraa” Won. We take any allegations of this nature seriously and unequivocally support victims of abuse.”
The skin is available for refund currently, but only through April 8, by submitting a ticket on Battle.net. Console players can also do this by making sure their PSN or Xbox Network ids are linked to their Battle.net accounts.
All of this begs the question – did Sinatraa ruin what was a great thing for the league, its players, and especially the fans? Is he the reason that we will no longer be getting MVP skins, and future fans of the OWL won’t be able to directly celebrate the league’s best players in game? We’ve reached out to Blizzard for comment on the situation, but typically they have not been forthcoming on these sorts of issues.