Earlier this week, 2019 Overwatch League MVP Sinatraa retired from competitive Overwatch and left the San Francisco Shock to join Sentinels’ inaugural VALORANT team.
He was the league’s poster child, as well as one of the top DPS talents in the game. And yet, Sinatraa only had bad things to say about the direction of the Overwatch League.
Sinatraa’s departure could start a trend of both tier one and tier two Overwatch players leaving the scene to join VALORANT teams. Overwatch League players quitting the game to play VALORANT is not inherently a cause for concern. It’s to be expected that high-level players from a variety of esports will flock to VALORANT in search of their big break.
What’s so odd about Sinatraa leaving, though, is that he didn’t need a big break. He was already the league’s MVP, a 2019 World Cup champion, and an OWL grand finals champion. If someone who’s on top of Overwatch League competition is willing to leave for an esport that’s still in beta, something is wrong with the Overwatch League.
In fact, Sinatraa didn’t even mention VALORANT as part of his decision to leave Overwatch. In his TwitLonger, Sinatraa only talked about the problems with Overwatch.
“I don’t know what the real killer was for me, maybe it was 2-2-2 lock maybe it was bans I’m not sure,” Sinatraa said. “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.“
The Overwatch League has changed significantly over the past year. The 2-2-2 role lock was implemented just before the OWL playoffs in 2019, which was a huge change for teams. More recently, the Overwatch League implemented a weekly hero ban rotation, which further limits the options for OWL teams while also decreasing the week-to-week predictability of the meta.
Although these changes have improved the experience for fans who were tired of stagnant hero metas, it seems like they’ve affected how much the pros enjoy the game. Players are burning out at an alarming rate, even without the travel requirements of the Overwatch League’s homestand format.
On its own, Sinatraa’s departure from Overwatch isn’t very concerning, but his reasons for leaving definitely are. If the Overwatch League can’t keep its most valuable player, it could lose anyone, at any moment, to the next big thing. That’s bad news for the long term viability of the Overwatch League talent pool.
Blizzard should be paying attention because the Overwatch League is bleeding and needs healing.