Sinatraa retires from Overwatch. His legacy lives on.
I remember you camping at the spawn doors. It felt like during this period of your career, you would not want to be anywhere else; in your opponent’s faces, proving that they couldn’t match your skill to save their lives. As much as it was a tactical decision to increase the number of fights needed for the offense to get to the objective - first and foremost - it was a manifestation of a team’s temperament with you and Dafran at the helm of it all. As soon as an opponent dripped the faintest sign of weakness into the water, you were on them like tiger sharks. Your potential as a mechanical player was apparent, but we hadn’t met the leader you became yet.
When the Overwatch League started, your story became a headline before anyone had even played a single match yet and months before you were eligible to. Too young to compete at the start, you still became Mr.150k, a mighty vote of confidence from your former coach Brad "Sephy" Rajani. While he wasn’t able to personally reap the benefits of putting this trust in you on the server, you honoured him by becoming the player that he knew you could be. Many didn’t share his vision, but they were also missing knowledge of the key feature that would become instrumental to your success, your leadership and your grind.
Becoming a leader
The first stage under Crusty turned out to be rough. Those familiar with your situation knew it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. Half of the teammates that came along for the season 2 ride were already there, more would follow during the offseason. Shock’s management committed to building a great team with elite players and an amazing coaching staff. From Crusty to NineK, from Architect, Moth & ChoiHyoBin to Rascal and Smurf, and eventually Viol2t and Striker; they made a commitment to excellence. With all the world-class talent that your roster was stacked with, you – the one perceived to be a toxic and bad teammate – became the leader in front of our eyes.
Much like your own story, your team came with all the talent but had to stumble first for the world to see. After an average start into season 2 in which you only qualified for the stage playoffs by map difference, we got a taste of what the Shock with you in the front row was capable of. You were so unbelievably close to winning the stage 1 finals, but fell short to a miraculous Titans comeback, setting us up for a narrative that would follow us throughout the season.
Champions must suffer first
Having fought all the way to the final, you completed Rialto with exactly a minute to spare, which at the time was considered a safe cushion that all but promised victory in most instances. On the other side of the arena sat an opponent that had experienced the defeat of a final all too many times. The Vancouver Titans during their time as RunAway had gone through the motions on several occasions but had finally broken the spell of the kong-line shortly before joining the Overwatch League. Armed with the knowledge of how to win a final, and perhaps more crucially, how to ward off the feelings of a crushing defeat, your opponent brought it back in sheer unprecedented fashion, setting a record attack time on the map. You visibly tried your best but when all was said and done, you were left to throw your hands up in the air in disappointment. The camera caught you looking over at your opponents celebrating in ecstasy. Many teams and players would’ve broken at the sight, having been there for that moment but letting it slip through your fingers. Not you. No, not you.
Coming back with selfless energy
In inferior parallel universes to this one, the story of the Shock and perhaps your own ends here. You never bring it together to the same degree again and we see the Titans run off with the season title into the sunset.
Instead, your hunger seemed to be at unprecedented levels. Rumours were circulating of your grind and brushed off as nonsense. While other teams looked away from hybrid rosters and thought that going full Korean was the way to go, your team was determined to make it work, with you as the heart, Moth as the brain and Super as the soul of the team. You didn’t start to beat teams, you started to demolish them. With Selfless spawn camp energy, you stomped through your opposition, not dropping a single map through all of stage 2, seemingly fueled by the loss of stage 1. Metaphorically, you were still at the spawn door, with us too mesmerized by your play to care for much else.
In the stage 2 finals, you took your revenge over the Titans and had finally arrived at the top of Overwatch. In a beautiful dance of a match, you lead your team to their first big victory. Again, many teams would have been satisfied with the experience but you just started showing off. I wonder what would’ve happened to your team’s motivation had you won the finals tout sweet. It might have very well been necessary for your later success. Regardless, you marched on at the same stern speed, only tumbling occasionally like against the Dragons unorthodox composition in the stage 3 finals. Still eyes firmly on the trophy, stage 4 rolled around with completely new requirements to you and your team.
Role lock and a completely different meta had arrived and we saw less of you but when we did, you played a lot of different heroes. Striker seemed to have gained priority as a starter and while your team dropped maps, you didn’t drop games. For you personally, it might have been a trying time. You had gone from one of the most valuable players in the league on Zarya to only being slotted in on occasion in the next meta. Perhaps eventually you will tell us what this time was like.
New meta, new Sinatraa
The playoffs came around and in good Overwatch League style, another meta composition followed. This time, the meta asked teams “Do you have an elite Doomfist?” You had played a solid Genji before in your career but you weren’t exactly known as a projectile player. Indeed, your profile as a player seems heavily misunderstood. Many consider your champion pool to be small, I look at your career and see someone that could grind into any character they wanted to if time allowed for it.
Doomfist didn’t just become an important hero in the playoff meta, it became by far the most important. Out of seemingly nowhere, you pulled out a Doomfist that only your adversary on the Titans, Haksal, could rival. Once again, you were at the helm of the Shock and despite once again having to suffer an incredibly close loss against the Reign, perhaps because of all the lessons learned over the season and the years, you were able to get up and dominate the rest of the playoffs. Due to your outstanding Zarya and your otherworldly Doomfist, you rightfully earned the MVP title. Later on you would take the United States to a World Cup victory, once again becoming the MVP of the event. But it was more than just titles you brought to the world.
Thank you, MVP
From being an exciting young American prospect with a bit of spice to him to a world class individual player and emotional leader and eventually a champion, your story is one that permeates the hearts and minds of your fans and viewers, inevitably becoming part of them. You were all that Krusher99 promised to be; trying his hardest, sometimes failing but never giving up until you got there. You represented us in mainstream media on several occasions, a part of society that still smirks at the idea of playing video games for a living and you helped dissolve some of the prejudice that our scene still has to face. What you achieved in your Overwatch career will forever be ingrained in esports history. You achieved all of this and then you turned 20.
From dominating North American Overwatch for a hot minute before Overwatch League, to being the face of the league and idol for many, we saw you grow up and become a genuinely better person in front of our eyes. You dedicated most of your fruitful and important teenage years to our world and our world owes you a lot for it. I would’ve loved to be able to see more of you in the Overwatch League as you could’ve certainly gone on to become the greatest of all time, but I’m content in following you on your next journey. Being so fully honest with yourself, that even the things we may be the best in the world at might not bring us happiness, is another lesson of yours I cherish.
I understand and feel you; Passion should not, cannot be forced. Thank you, MVP.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment