Reigning Overwatch League MVP and 2019 Overwatch World Cup champion Jay "Sinatraa" Won will retire from competitive Overwatch and instead now compete in VALORANT as a part of esports organization Sentinels, sources familiar with the player's plans told ESPN.
Sinatraa is parting ways with the San Francisco Shock, the only team he competed with in the Overwatch League and the one he led to win the Overwatch League Season 2 Grand Finals championship in Philadelphia in September. His last game with the Shock took place on March 29 vs. the Los Angeles Valiant.
The Sentinels could not be reached for a request for comment. The San Francisco Shock declined to comment but confirmed Sinatraa was leaving the organization in a Twitter post after the news of his departure broke. The league also confirmed the news to ESPN in a statement.
"We appreciate the great play and personality that Sinatraa brought to the community, we'll miss him, and we also wish him the best for the future," the statement said.
Sinatraa published a post on TwitLonger in which he explained why he was leaving Overwatch. The statement reads in part, "straight up just lost passion for the game. idk what the real killer was for me but maybe it was 2-2-2 lock maybe it was bans im not sure ... i did not make this decision in 1 day it took a full month of non stop thinking every day and sleepless nights from being so stressed."
Sinatraa, widely seen as the face of the Overwatch League in the West, will join Sentinels, which previously operated the Los Angeles Gladiators until the end of the 2019 Overwatch League season and in the League of Legends Championship Series as Phoenix1. Since settling a lawsuit between Sentinels and Gladiators ownership Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Sentinels have continued to compete in Fortnite, Apex Legends, Halo and Hearthstone. They are also the home of 2019 Fortnite World Cup champion Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf.
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Sinatraa's options for entering VALORANT as a pro were limited because the Overwatch League barred retiring players from signing with the parent or sister organization of any competing team, sources said. In sinatraa's case, whose Shock operate under NRG Esports, he could have played for NRG, which is putting together a VALORANT squad of its own, but not the parent or sister organization of any other team in the league.
The Overwatch League and its sister Call of Duty League have barred their players from competing in amateur VALORANT tournaments that have occurred over the past two weeks, according to sources. However, several Overwatch League commentators participated in the VALORANT bootcamp Riot held at the end of March.
Sinatraa is the first star Overwatch player to make the switch to VALORANT, League of Legends developer Riot Games' new tactical first-person shooter. Since its beta release several weeks ago, Sinatraa has consistently streamed his VALORANT play on Twitch, and on Saturday, said he had a big announcement set for later this week.
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Before becoming one of Overwatch's most successful players, Sinatraa played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive online, and in a 2018 interview with Blitz Esports, said that Counter-Strike pro Jake "Stewie2K" Yip was his idol. In Overwatch, Sinatraa became partly known for his play on Tracer, a high-speed DPS character known for needing precise aim.
In mid-2018, Sinatraa signed a contract with NRG Esports, who later founded the Shock, for a $150,000 per year salary, and made headlines as one of the highest-paid players in the game before the then-17-year-old could even compete in Overwatch League. He competed for the Shock once he turned 18 near in the middle of the OWL's inaugural season and finished a lackluster year for San Francisco. However, with roster, coaching and management changes, as well as more time for a young core roster to jell, Sinatraa and the Shock would go on to become the best team in the Overwatch League in their second season.
In the past few weeks, VALORANT has drawn many comparisons to Counter-Strike, due to its gunplay, bomb defusal game mode and similar tactical gameplay. Upon release, Riot partnered with Twitch to distribute beta keys to viewers of the game on a limited number of channels, from those that competed in the bootcamp. ESPN and some of its esports staff participated in said bootcamp. VALORANT then eclipsed Fortnite for single event concurrent viewership on Twitch, topping out over 1.7 million viewers on Twitch.
The game has received major interest from esports franchise owners around the world, with teams such as T1 and NRG quickly looking to field players in the game.