On Tuesday, April 28th, ESPN reported that former Overwatch League MVP Jay “Sinatraa” Won was set to retire and join the Sentinels’ VALORANT team. However, more concerns lie in the fact that Sinaatra’s decisions were limited due to the Overwatch League ruleset dictating his external decisions.
According to ESPN, “the Overwatch League barred retiring players from signing with any organization that was parent or sister to a competing Overwatch League team.” Additionally, rule 1.1.2 of the 2020 Overwatch League Official Rules and Code of Conduct stipulates that the “League Rules also govern the conduct of all direct and indirect owners of entities that own Teams admitted to play in the League.”
These unjust rules allowed the Overwatch League to dictate the actions of its franchisees, which prevented a player such as Sinatraa from being able to play under any of the other OWL franchisees’ sister or parent teams. Additionally, the rulebook also allows the league to govern the conducts of “unsigned players who have previously executed a Player Agreement who have not notified the League Office of their retirement, and any prospective players.”
Lateral growth has been integral to the growth of esports; as new titles are released, it has been common for professional players to switch games in their careers. However, Blizzard entertainment seeks to reap the benefits from such transfers while preventing it from continuing on in the industry. Recently, the Overwatch League and its sister Call of Duty League were even reported to have prevented its players from competing in amateur VALORANT tournaments. The audacity of these rules and Blizzard’s selfish interests set a dangerous precedent for participating franchisees and their players.
Sinatraa is set to join the Sentinels, an esports organization which currently participates in Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Hearthstone, and the home of 2019 Fortnite World Cup Champion Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf. While a complete VALORANT roster has yet to be announced by the Sentinels, this cross-title move is likely the first of many more to come.