As with most sports, esports requires the requisite star power to succeed in the mainstream and the Overwatch professional league has taken a major hit recently to its star-starved roster; after just a month into his debut season, Overwatch League competitor Daniel "Dafran" Francesca has quit.
Francesca's first season started off with a bang, as his style of play led to some spectacular moments. The early season success was due to his unique ability to readjust on the fly. Many players wouldn't dream of skiing over roofs to get into enemy territory. Francesca's quirkiness on the field convinced his teammates to adopt this strategy. The different styles he used in his gameplay even flummoxed the commentators. Francesca leaving the league is a shock to the fans who were eagerly awaiting his arrival into the pro ranks.
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Francesca's issues trace back to 2017, according to Kotaku. Blizzard gave him a lengthy suspension in 2017 for streaming a softcore anime porn game. Francesca referenced that suspension in his official farewell, "At least we are leaving maturely and gracefully after finishing stage 1, unlike the throw4dafran Nekopara Selfless incident." This isn't the first time Francesca said he had quit his team. Before the start of the second season, he claimed to have quit Atlanta Reign, only to rejoin later. In reference to this incident he called it a "dumb mistake." This isn't the first time a player has quit OWL, Brandon "Seagull" Larned previously retired for a full-time streaming career. Another notable OWL pro, Felix "xQc" Lengyel was released from his team after controversy and ultimately focused on streaming.
Next up for Francesca is a return to streaming. Streaming on Twitch is a very lucrative way for esports pros to grow an audience while making a profit. Atlanta Reign will continue to be partnered with Francesca, but this time as a streamer. The pressures of performing in OWL leads to burnout, stress and even panic disorders for the pros. To compete on this level requires teams to stick to rigorous practice schedules and weekly scrimmages. Overwatch's competitive scene has led to a myriad of unfortunate events occurring, such as "Ellie" leaving her team. That situation was complicated due to "Ellie" being fake, but situations have occurred regarding contracts, as in the case of Team Lucky. The mental grind of being a pro, seemingly was a factor in Francesca's exit from the OWL scene. As a streamer, Francesca's capable of making his own schedule and working from home.
Overwatch continues to look for their transcendent star; as of now, it won't be Francesca, but the quality of play remains strong. For Atlanta Reign, it's a useful marketing tool and an association that will strengthen the team's bonds with the community. As Overwatch continues to grow as an esport, it remains enjoyable to watch because of the influx of talent. With more people playing video games competitively, maybe someday esports will make it to the Olympics. Like with most sports, revenue and star power will be the main factors pertaining to growth.