Seagull quits the Overwatch League for streaming: Will more pro players follow his path?
Earlier this week, the Overwatch world was shocked to hear that the most famous North American player to play the game has quit the Overwatch League in favor of growing his stream and personal brand this coming season. Brandon ‘Seagull’ Larned has long been regarded as one of the most decorated and battle hardened players Western players in Overwatch since the start of the scene.
In his announcement, Seagull made it clear that the reasons for stepping down were both financial and emotional, citing a need to focus on mental and physical health as he plans to continue growing his brand and building a strong connection with his following. With the biggest name in North American Overwatch stepping down from the pro scene, could more players follow in Seagull’s footsteps?
Smart for business
For most high level Overwatch players, the pursuit of competition en route to being a pro player has always been a feat to achieve for anyone looking to get into the scene. Seagull walks away from his Overwatch career as a member of one of the most dominant Overwatch teams ever assembled in Team EnvyUs, that also won the APEX tournament in Korea during their prime.
The road to success in the Overwatch League hasn’t been as easy, or as lucrative, for the American flex player as he’s seen his new teams fortune with the Dallas Fuel dwindle since the start of the season. The lack of playtime and mismanagement through the first three Stages were a big hurdle to overcome both mentally and physically for a lot of the players on the roster, and Seagull was another casualty that dipped in morale and performance because of it.
Although Seagull and the Dallas Fuel enjoyed a slight resurgence in Stage Four, on top of capturing a Stage Playoff spot, the reward was too little too late for a team that was left on the outside looking in once playoffs rolled around. Making money as an Overwatch pro when wages haven’t been fully guaranteed was a definite gamble for Seagull as he suffered a financial toll for his team failing to achieve their goals throughout the year.
With all the reasons laid out for stepping down from Dallas Fuel after his stream announcement, it’s a no brainer why the most popular face in Western Overwatch would take his chances and commit to streaming full-time in an attempt to maximize his profit from the game in the following year. Being a Twitch partner for three years and only utilizing his stream for a total of one year during that time period was another key reason for his departure. For a player of Seagull’s stature, it’s only right that he made a decision that would benefit his health and his pockets.
More to follow?
With Seagull stepping down from the league as well as the Overwatch World Cup later this year, it’s only right to question if any other pro player is also contemplating this switch given the strength of their fanbase and the monotony of their situation in the OWL.
When it comes to high-profile, visible streamers that are most likely doing better financially than they would in the Overwatch League, the biggest name that comes to mind is none other than Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel also formerly of the Dallas Fuel. The controversial pro player turned full-time streamer has been absolutely killing it on the Twitch platform as he has eclipsed the popularity of his specific game and has steadily been making a name for himself as one of the most prolific streamers on Twitch overall.
Whether you agree with his antics on stream or not, there is no denying that xQc has crafted himself a definitive lane within the Overwatch and Twitch communities that has far exceeded the impact he could make as just an Overwatch League pro. Not only that, but his connections and insight within the league has done wonders for him and the league itself as he single-handedly bridges the gap between the casual viewer and pro gamers with his eccentric take on the news that circulates from the OWL.
Even though he has been virtually blacklisted from joining the league again, xQc’s participation in the Overwatch World Cup as part of Team Canada will be a big step in adding some visibility to his gameplay at the highest level as he looks to compete for his national team. With a good performance in the World Cup, there is a slight chance that the Overwatch League expansion teams will be looking out for a main tank veteran that can anchor their team with quality communication and solid plays.
Another player that may be on the fence about playing professionally or streaming next year is Sweden’s André ‘iddqd’ Dahlström of the San Francisco Shock. Iddqd is also one of those players who’s star power is eclipsed by his team’s struggling results. Although SF Shock are undoubtedly in a better place than the Dallas Fuel after Season One, the possibility of making serious money given the visibility of his name will be quite difficult if San Francisco continue to struggle next year.
As of right now, Iddqd is the 7th most followed streamer from Overwatch as his numbers, nearing 280k followers, speaks for itself. With a fanbase of that size, making a permanent switch to streaming may just be in the cards if the motivation becomes strictly financial for the Swede later in his career. Iddqd will have plenty of time to deliberate over a decision of this magnitude over the World Cup as he gets ready for glory with an otherwise stacked Sweden roster this year around.