Goodbye Professional Overwatch: A Journey Ended
I will no longer be continuing my journey in professional Overwatch. This announcement is probably a surprise for many of you. Because of this, I wanted to write something to avoid any misunderstandings, clarify my situation, and communicate my plans for the future. Hopefully this means this is also the last twitlonger I have to write because writing is not my strong suit, so please bear with me.
To start, I will clear up any possible misconceptions. Yes, I signed with the Chengdu Hunters for season 2 of the Overwatch League. Yes, I moved to China in order to train with the team. No, I am not leaving while blindsiding the rest of the team. I had a talk with management about my situation and they were incredibly understanding. I have also told all my teammates personally well in advance of this announcement. Yes, I have already signed the termination and mutual release agreement regarding my Overwatch League contract.
This decision has definitely been the most difficult one I’ve had to make in the 19 years I’ve been alive. The only thing on my mind the entire past year has been how to better myself as a player within Overwatch League, so this sudden shift has definitely left me with some degree of emotional confusion. There are a multitude of reasons that led me to this decision. First and foremost, I simply do not enjoy professional Overwatch as much as I did in the past. If you were to ask me one year ago how I felt about practicing Overwatch 14 hours a day, I would have gladly accepted the challenge and opportunity. Now, I can feel my mental levels draining extremely quickly while practicing, and I’m afraid I have reached levels of complete burnout for the game. Secondly, the disparity in cultural differences between western esports organizations and Chinese esports organizations were far greater than I had originally anticipated. The differing standards for work hours, privacy, living conditions, off-days, and work ethic were all extremely difficult for me to adjust to. The head coach also requires the team to communicate in 100% Chinese so it took a significantly higher amount of mental energy for me to translate everything in my head into English to understand and communicate. This applied not only to in-game practices, but also to vod reviews of our scrims. (To be honest, communicating in Mandarin was definitely the lesser of my problems. My Chinese reading and writing are definitely lackluster but my hearing and speaking improved strikingly quickly. After studying and memorizing a lot of in-game Overwatch terminology, I am now able to communicate and understand Chinese quite well in-game, at the very least definitely to a level that makes the game not insanely more difficult to play than with English communication.) I’m sure with more time I would have adjusted to these conditions; however, coupled with my burnout and lack of enjoyment for professional Overwatch only further led me to feeling absolutely and completely overwhelmed.
After careful consideration of all these factors, I concluded that the best course of action for both me and the team would be for me to withdraw from competing. Personally, I felt it would not be healthy for my mental health to scrim and heavily practice for at least another 10 months. I have simply lost the passion and motivation that I used to have for competing in Overwatch. For my team, it would be unfair for them to play with someone who wasn’t able to mentally give 100% for practices and vod reviews. It would be selfish of me to continue with the rest of the team when I’ve lost that passion and drive for the game. I only had around a week of practice with the rest of the team, so I felt I was at a crossroads. Had I decided to leave after staying around any longer with the team, it would have been too late for me to comfortably withdraw myself from the team without causing serious in-game issues. Because the team was still in the early phases of practicing with me, I surmised that it was not too late to tell management how I honestly felt. To be honest, my plan was always to return to studying in university. Overwatch League was only an experiment in my life for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try something completely new. If I don’t enjoy competing anymore and have no plans to further my future career path as a competitor in esports, then it is also more beneficial as a decision to just take a break until the next fall semester comes for university. So, this is the end of my journey as a competitor in esports.
I want to give my thoughts and reflections for my journey in Overwatch League as a whole. As cheesy as it sounds, Overwatch League truly changed my life for the better and, in a sense, saved me. Before going into esports, I was a shut-in college student pursuing a major and future I had no passion in. I hated my life back then. Overwatch League gave me an opportunity at a fresh start and also immensely motivated me to change myself, both physically and personally, which has allowed me to become more confident and outgoing in the process. A large part of this was the knowledge that I was going to be seen by the public at least multiple times a week, whether it would be for interviews or media events done by marketing teams. I stopped having the only clothes I wore be clothes purchased by my parents and actually bought clothes for myself. Furthermore, being seen as a public figure of sorts also helped make me a lot more open-minded. Because of this, I cannot be more thankful for the opportunity of being able to play in the Overwatch League. This journey was surreal from start to finish, and I am so proud of being able to say I played in the inaugural season of the league. I had the time of my life, and I hold absolutely no regrets for my decision to drop out of university a year ago to play in OWL. It was the best decision of my life.
As I said before, my plan now for the future is to take a nice break for myself until the next fall semester starts for university. I have currently applied to 3 universities, (UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, and UT Austin) so for now I’m waiting on admission into them as a freshman majoring in business. Who knows, I may return to the esports scene in the future through the business and management standpoint rather than as a competitor. The rapidly-growing esports industry fascinates me, and I would be completely honored to support its growth moving forward. Having esports reach the same level of fame and recognition as regular sports is one of my main motivators for choosing business as my major. I have finally found a major that I can be passionate about. As I’m currently in China, I would like to make the most of this trip because the last time I visited was more than 6 years ago. I’ll be sure to visit my parents’ hometown and go to some famous tourist spots to make this “vacation” memorable. After my trip in China ends and I return home to Texas, I intend on streaming very frequently. I might even be able to finally have a stream schedule. I still intend on playing Overwatch casually and having it be my main game to play when streaming. I think it will be a huge burden off my shoulders to be able to stream Overwatch from a casual perspective rather than from a professional one. I’m confident I’ll be able to enjoy streaming the game much more than before due to the significant decrease in pressure. Streaming will be my main focus during my long break until school starts, so please be on the lookout for that!
Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude towards everyone who has supported me throughout my esports journey: Blizzard, my former teams and teammates, family, and fans. Thank you Blizzard for creating the Overwatch League and having it exceed all my expectations. I will never forget the experiences and memories I made and it will definitely be a story I can tell my friends and family many years into the future. Thank you to Royal Never Give Up for being a caring and understanding organization and allowing me to withdraw from the team when I felt it was the best decision. Special thanks to the manager 宝龙 and to Luke for aiding me when I was truly overwhelmed with everything. Thank you to my former teammates on Chengdu Hunters for being so kind and accepting of me. I only got to know you guys for a couple weeks but you guys have become dear friends to me. I’ll be cheering for you guys in season 2, can’t wait to see what you accomplish as a team! When you all arrive in LA, I’ll be sure to treat you guys to a nice dinner sometime. Thank you to my family for being so understanding. Although you didn’t approve of my decision to join esports in the beginning, eventually you guys became incredibly supportive and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Most importantly, thank you to my fans who continue to support me through everything. You guys have made my entire esports journey that much more special. Also, I’m not quitting Overwatch completely so I hope you all continue to support me when I start streaming frequently!
I realize how long this twitlonger has become but I wanted every single one of my final thoughts to be on it. After all, this is the last one I’ll write (probably). If you actually managed to read through everything, I am genuinely impressed and applaud you.
Farewell esports - thank you, thank you, and thank you. A journey that has finally come to an end.
P.S. If anyone that is fluent in both Chinese and English (and has a truly insane amount of patience and time) would like to translate this twitlonger, please feel free to! I realize I have many Chinese fans that support me as well. I would greatly appreciate it!