Sinatraa Retires From Overwatch League to Go Pro in Valorant
The Overwatch world was shocked Tuesday when reports broke from ESPN that Jay “Sinatraa” Won would be retiring from OWL to pursue a career in Riot’s nascent Valorant esports scene.
This report was quickly confirmed when the San Francisco Shock announced Sinatraa’s retirement, and the player himself provided a Twitlonger on the situation saying that he had “lost his passion for Overwatch,” and that he had agonized over this decision for the better part of a month.
Why Is Sinatraa Retiring From Overwatch?
For most fans, seeing a star player retire at what should be the prime of his career is going to be a disappointment. This is no different for Sinatraa, who’s decision had fans scratching their heads. But why leave when you’re a part of a defending championship roster, and hold some of the League’s most prestigious awards from last season?
“Straight up just lost passion for the game,” Sinatraa explained. “I don’t know what the real killer was for me but maybe it was 2-2-2 lock, maybe it was the Hero Pool system, I’m not sure. I just know it was hard for me to log on to play and I didn’t have fun in scrims/ranked at all anymore. It sucked, but ultimately I wanted to do what’s right for me. In the past month, I did not give OW/OWL my all and it showed in scrims and even in OWL.”
Sinatraa’s performance in Overwatch League did seem to suffer in the past month. Sinatraa only had 173 eliminations, among the lowest on his team, and only saw about 1:34 worth of playtime as he shared playtime with what has become a crowded San Francisco Shock bench.
From here, Sinatraa has joined up with Sentinels’ new Valorant squad which has some star talent from CS:GO, including ShahZam, SicK, and former Apex Legends pro Zombs.
Overwatch Loses Its Biggest Star in the West
There’s no doubt about it. Losing Sinatraa is perhaps one of the biggest setbacks and blows felt by the Overwatch League since the retirement of Dafran early last season. Sinatraa leaving is arguably bigger than even that monumental move. He was a star player of the League and a hotly contested talent among many different teams. He could have demanded whatever salary he wanted for his career in Overwatch. The fact that even that was not enough to keep him in the game, citing a loss of passion for Overwatch in general, is a worrying sign for the game.
And it’s an ongoing problem for Overwatch. It seems like whenever the title has a player who gains a massive following in the West, that player or face of the game follows the same trend: they retire either to another game, another role, or streaming to build their brand. It’s happened with several players now that should be familiar to anyone who browses Twitch: Seagull, xQc, Jake, Dafran, and now Sinatraa joining that impressive list of players.
Sinatraa was a player who had appeared on The Tonight Show to talk about the San Francisco Shock’s win in Season 2. He was used extensively in marketing for the League. What’s worse is he was perhaps the most hyped player heading into Overwatch League’s inaugural season, with reports showing that he was already among the best-paid players in the league despite not even being old enough to play. While he was initially disappointed with his performance in season one, he quickly grew into his role and became the League’s MVP during the GOATS era of Overwatch League, helping the Shock secure the second season championship.
And now OWL is once again left without a true face of the League in the west. While there are still many popular players remaining in OWL that call the West home, seeing their more successful colleague leave for an esport that hasn’t even touched the starting line yet will likely stick in their heads as the League continues to struggle with viewership issues and an ongoing sense that Blizzard is having trouble balancing their game.
Where Does Blizzard Go From Here?
It’s hard to be in Blizzard’s shoes here. They are months away from launching Overwatch 2 and are struggling to gain viewership and visibility on Overwatch League now that it’s moved to YouTube. They keep losing their biggest and best players to other games, and they have all but gutted their Tier 2 support to the point where even the Overwatch League teams don’t see the point in fielding teams for talent development.
For one, Blizzard is going to have to directly address what they will do for Overwatch League when Overwatch 2 launches, and provide players and teams with a true roadmap for what that looks like. They will also have to solve the problem of finding a new face for the League in the West, and that means that they will have to once again begin producing articles, videos, and other media highlighting the talent they have remaining.
They thankfully seem to be abandoning the regular season format in favor of month-long tournaments, similar to the Call of Duty League. This should hopefully help bolster the mid-season doldrums that fans and teams have felt for the first three years of the Overwatch League’s existence, and make matches feel like they matter again. With increased stakes and visibility, perhaps the next star of tomorrow will be discovered and raised to the status that Sinatraa enjoyed during his time with the San Francisco Shock.