Today, beloved Overwatch League star Brandon “Seagull” Larned announced his retirement from professional Overwatch after just one season. Larned, who played off-tank and DPS for the Dallas Fuel, will return to streaming on Twitch, where he built a streaming empire of 760,000 followers.
In a statement, Mike Rufail, the owner and CEO of Envy Gaming, the esports organization that fed into the Dallas Fuel, said “We have nothing but love for Brandon,” adding, “We support Brandon in his decision and he leaves us on good terms.”
Overwatch League wasn’t Larned’s first foray into esports. He started out as a professional Team Fortress 2 player, and in 2016, he rose to prominence in competitive Overwatch. He has built an enormous audience on Twitch, making his upbeat personality and high-level gameplay into his personal brand. Larned dropped out of college at Washington State and found success on the streaming platform.
When Overwatch League teams began scouting players, Larned said he got a lot of offers to join different teams, and in September 2017, he joined the Dallas Fuel. In a Twitch stream about his decision, Larned explained that choosing a team was “probably one of the hardest decisions of my lifetime,” but that he chose the Fuel because of “cultural fit, current roster, and how good the org was.”
The Dallas Fuel signed a lot of big-name streamers in Overwatch League’s first season, including Larned, and owner Rufail positioned that as a selling point, telling Kotaku, “We welcome the idea of letting our players be who they are.” However, during the season, which just ended in July, the Fuel was plagued with controversy. Teammate Felix “xQc” Lengyel was let go after making controversial statements about other players. Timo “Taimou” Kettunen publicly used a homophobic slur on stream. By April, the Fuel had also released their head coach Kyle “KyKy” Souder and star DPS player Dong-jun “Rascal” Kim, apparently because he struggled with communication (Kim is Korean). All of this intrapersonal strife didn’t seem to help them play better. The Fuel’s performance was pretty unremarkable throughout the season. They placed tenth out of twelve teams.
Despite this, Larned was slated to play in the Overwatch League All-Stars exhibition game later this year in the Pacific division. Neither Larned nor the Fuel have returned Kotaku’s requests for comment regarding whether he’ll participate.
On his Twitch stream, Larned confirmed he’ll be moving from Los Angeles back to the Pacific Northwest in just a few days. And just like that, the Fuel lost their last bastion of charisma.
Correction - 6:29am, August 8: An earlier version of the story misstated the events preceding the firing of Felix “xQc” Lengyel from the team, conflating them with the slur used by former teammate Kettunen. We apologize for the error.